Email newsletters are "not for the faint of heart"

As a newsletter publisher, I was heartened by Chris Short's story of a conscientious journey to responsible mass emailing. It shows me that I've been relying too hard on what any one email service provider does. I'm going to become better educated, and I aspire to be as conscientious as he is. I also appreciated the way he mentions his newsletter when networking with people. Things no one tells you when you start a newsletter, 2020-Mar-24

Mail delivery on the modern internet is one of the single hardest tasks out there. First, every administrator and engineer from the network to a user’s inbox assumes your mail is garbage. Second, the number and size of hurdles to sending mail out to thousands of people every week are enormous. Conquering the knowledge of mail servers, DNS, internet routing, networking, not to mention, design, and writing skills necessitate the services that are available to help.


How to reach inactive subscribers through subjects lines

Email marketing guru Dela Quist has a very good point about inactive email subscribers. They are labeled 'inactive' because the email server can't detect any activity, but that tells you NOTHING about the person and what they've read or done with the information you sent. I am friends with a lot of IT professionals who block systems from collecting information from them. I, myself, read some emails with the images turned off because I know that I'll get slammed with needless follow-up emails if I don't. 

  1. Segment inactives.
  2. Review the names as much as possible. You may find people you know to be active in responding and purchasing. 
  3. Segment some more and send GREAT subject lines.
  4. Assume they'll unsubscribe if they want to. 

Only Influencers: Case Study: What is an Email Address Worth and How to Increase Its Value, 2019-Nov by Dela Quist

There are two key learnings to take from this case study.

The first is how valuable your inactives are and the second is how important it is to spend time and effort on reactivation

Start by identifying your inactive subscribers, but don’t remove them from your list, though as the data proves an inactive subscriber is a way better customer than a non-subscriber. What we recommend is to treat the your inactives as a separate, high value segment in the same way as you would your frequent purchasers or 30-day buyers. 


Finally, when it comes to re activating dormant subscribers nothing beats the subject line it is the only thing every subscriber will see... 


How to be a better consultant

I've decided to spend more time concentrating on newsletter and trying to find consulting gigs in the newsletter arena. So I'm trying to find role models, and Tom Critchlow has an amazing approach. 

The Strategic Independent: Yes! and... 2019-Nov-18 by Tom Critchlow

Who’s been in a meeting and been disgusted with people spouting things that are half-true, made-up or masks over the real truth?

There’s a fine line between reacting to a situation in the room and bullshitting.

As a consultant this is especially hard to avoid. Your default mode of operating is the liminal space between industries, businesses and markets. A few times a year I’m forced to learn something new from scratch. This forces us to work in spaces where we’re often the least knowledgeable about a specific business (even if we are experts in the industry… And sometimes we’re experts at a discipline but neither knowledgeable about the business or the industry).

So here’s a little guide to avoiding bullshit:

  • Immerse yourself in the core business mechanics, you should be able to draw a diagram explaining the core business revenue & profit function reasonably well. The more abstraction here the more you risk a fundamental mis-understanding and straying into BS.

  • Become a language chameleon - study and adopt the language, acronyms and buzzwords of the client’s business. If they call it “earned marketing” you should too. If their CMS is called PinkCloud you call it that too. Specificity allows you to avoid confusion and helps you distinguish between the client’s CMS and the market’s CMS (for example).

  • Speak clearly and within your limits. Ask for clarification on points that don’t seem to make sense. No pretending. Don’t adopt the language too quickly! (ha, see how hard this is?)

  • Ask stupid questions. Ask questions about company history, about alternative approaches, about failed previous ideas. Just because people at the client choose not to talk about obvious things doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

  • Defend your ideas but not your points. Be willing to defend your ideas even if some data points get challenged. It’s very common that the number or stat you’re using to support your point will be wrong but that the broader idea still holds. Don’t concede the idea but also don’t try and put muscle behind the numbers - accept they’re wrong but keep pressing on the idea to see where you get.

  • When you get challenged pull out some counter-factuals - when someone is claiming that your data is wrong challenge them with proving the opposite.

  • Keep your eye on the prize for business outcomes, not intellectual debates. Executives are fond of theorizing and debating ideas that stray into the get into the abstract - you can play this game a little but try to be the one to ground conversations in reality.

  • Read widely - analogy is the core of cognition. Don’t be afraid to source things from different industries. This is the kind of cross-industry vantage point that clients find hard to get internally.

These are all ways to avoid bullshitting - but unfortunately there’s one simple way to avoid bullshit - by being critical.

It’s far easier to retreat to the critical, negative position and say why things won’t or can’t work. Except… this is a mistake.

Being positive and optimistic is far harder but more effective.