Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Electronic Newsletters Are Overused

Newsletters have always seemed to suffer from one anemic deficit or another. First it was paper versus electronic, then ineffective use of the electronic newsletter, then inconsistent use of the electronic newsletter and now overuse of the newsletter.

If you are in business today….you generally get several newsletters a week of one sort or another: some we have signed up for and others …not so much. The issue, (if I can use that pun) is that most newsletters are uninformative, unimaginative and they remain a relic of the print age. Today, with information on demand, the newsletter’s effectiveness has been eroded by competing noise in the marketplace …everybody has a newsletter. Most newsletters are simply marketing speak and do not offer true insight. They are usually an assemblage of new product launches, product support, broadly available statistics, product fixes and self promotion.

Other factors that have dramatically impacted the newsletter are the advent of the blog, forum, twitter, texting, chat functions, FAQs, press releases, social networking sites etc. Subject matter experts are now more accessible and user groups of high profile products offer unique opportunities to gain non-bias information on a product or service.

The print newsletter and initially the electronic newsletter were considered a push medium, in other words the newsletter was pushed out to clients as a marketing and information piece. With the advent of privacy laws, greater interactive design, instant access to subject matter expertise and more graphic design, newsletters have increasingly become “pull” medium where the user signs up or registers for information they want.

Marketers are now resorting to incentives to encourage subscribers by offering VIP treatment, discounts and giveaways. The idea is that if you are offered something of value you will accept regular updates about a product or service in the form of a newsletter. The basic problem with this approach is that the value of newsletter subscriptions is overweighed on quantity rather than quality. The same formula that defines spamming is being used to define the benefits of the business or corporate newsletter. The more subscribers you have the more” impressions” you get for your product, ultimately resulting in greater sales and product awareness.

The basic problem with this formula is just that …it’s a formula. As in spamming, it is a passionless medium, where the information is unimaginative, uninformative and it lacks the basic incentive for buying … emotion. Apple is an example of a product that has created a cult-like status around its products. Generally they are far more expensive and perform similarly to many other products. They main emotional appeal is that through their products you have gained membership into a select group. Apple has successfully tapped into our need to belong.

If you want to engage your audience, you have to invest the time and energy in making the information wanted, needed and even demanded by your customers with the use of in-depth content - delivered in a memorable way.

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