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Your Newsletter Is Killing Your List

by mturk

Earlier this morning I received an email from the PAC of a major political figure and probable GOP candidate for President in 2012.  The subject of the email demonstrates the problem fairly clearly:

Month in Review — February 2010

My goal in discussing this email is not to embarrass the sender, so I’m not going to mention who they are.  The fact is, I see campaigns, candidates, and companies make the same mistake all the time.  So this could apply equally to just about any organization who is simply going through the motions with their email program.

Are You Present For Your Email?

In this particular case, the email wasn’t as bad as some I have seen.  Most of the content did, at least, have to do with the organization.  In many cases, emailers use these “week/month in review” messages to cobble together an assortment of newspaper headlines under the “In Case You Missed It” theory of communications. The message assumes you either a) don’t read, or b) don’t have time to read the news.  Frankly, someone who doesn’t have time to read the news probably doesn’t have a lot of time to read your newsletter. The theory that they missed interesting current events, but have plenty of time for your group, is probably wrong.

As I said, the PAC did, at least, share PAC related information.  The trouble, however, is they shared it in a way that was neither compelling or timely.  There were three feature stories and a collection of headlines from the month.  Divided up separately, they would have amounted to less than one e-mail a week – hardly a burdensome load to keep your supporters engaged.

Two of the stories, however, related to the personal activities of the PACs head – either of which would have been much more interesting if that person had provided a first person narrative.  Instead, a third person shared news of the events in a disconnected and distant way.  Would your supporters rather hear you tell them of your experience? Or would they rather hear your web guy’s version of it?  The post one article linked through to was, if oddly written, at least personal.  None of that personality made it to the email, and the fact is the majority of your subscribers won’t click through to your site.

The other article related to a speech given, but again provided no personal insight about the crowd, the reaction, the sense of excitement – just a link to the speech and a link to the event website.

Tell Me About You

Your email list should tell me about you.  Rather than sending a generic newsletter, if you are a candidate or the head of a PAC, tell me what you think and feel about the race, the event, your progress.  Share with me your thoughts on the state of the state, nation, or world.  I guarantee I will find it more interesting.  I guarantee I will be more likely to read it.  I will certainly be willing to click through to a link if you talk passionately about it; as opposed to just linking to something like a transcript.

Too often campaigns have the opinion that any word issued from on high is sacrosanct.  But your supporters are not waiting with baited breath to read stale links about news that is days or weeks old.  These are people connected to the Internet – a world that moves fast, and forgets even faster.  If you’re not compelling, and your words are not engaging, you have lost my attention.  With email, that also means you have lost subsequent opens and clicks.