Newsletters got to know their limitations

Newsletters are a great communications tool. Because usually they stay on topic. And if the circulation list is managed properly they are likely to be at least opened by almost everyone they are sent to. However there are limitations. I regularly get asked to give permission to receive newsletters. And know what I'm going to get. Because they are easy to unsubscribe from I generally give them a go. The mistake newsletters make is sticking rigorously to their own agenda and never trying to make the dangerous leap as to what the audience's interest might be.

My shortlist for dreadful newsletters leads with a newsletter from (wait for it) a company specialising in computer memory chips. Every month there would be a review of the sorts of things that slowed computers down. For which the invariable solution was.. buy more memory! Next..

Then there's Scarfworld.. which offers you a selection of scarves… it probably works for impulsive scarf buyers.. haven't bought one in February yet.

I get a very obscure one I really must switch off which offers obscure Bible commentators – I suppose the principle is that your house wouldn't be big enough to hold the books but electronic versions you can keep collecting endlessly. These letters may work for collectors but for me its a reminder that I don't have enough time to read what I am already being sent. 

Authorship matters a lot. Multiauthored newsletters get me scanning who has written it and giving the chop to some because I expect them to bore me.

Funnel newsletters are more unpredictable. There's a style of copywriting that pulls you in with an intriguing headline then keeps you there for up to 1000 words on the basis that once you've got that far you're much more likely to buy something. Yes but after a while we can see thes newsletters coming. I have a folder full of them which I will get around to reading one day.

Newsletters suffer from fatigue – the PC tips advice newsletter suddenly started offering buy to let advice and I rather lost faith in the online Doctor who started to recommend a fabulous diet which had helped his wife lose weight miraculously after Christmas.

These are memorable because they failed – they became the focus rather than the medium.The good ones I don't notice because they are so useful they become transparent. I keep them because I need them. And of course I respond to them.

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