Got Personality? Infuse Your Emails With Some Too!
Writing for an e-newsletter is not the same as writing for a Web site. No? What’s different about it? Glad you asked …
… according to a study we stumbled across the other day, readers of e-newsletters tend to have emotional reactions to them … more so than to Web sites which users consider more “functional.” Web sites, they say, feel more like tools where they want to accomplish something or quickly find an answer to a specific question — and get out. In contrast, e-newsletters feel “personal” because they arrive in users’ in-boxes, and they tend to have an ongoing relationship with them – at least with the ones they enjoy.
But only with the ones they enjoy.
Unfortunately, writers of b-to-b e-newsletters often believe their job is just to collect enough content to fill … and then they heave a big sigh of relief until the next month when they have to fill all that empty space all over again.
But “filling” isn’t enough. The content has to be enjoyable … or interesting … or intriguing. It needs to have personality. That’s what makes a reader perk up every time another issue of your e-newsletter arrives in their in-box. They need to remember something they read in your previous e-newsletter, something that makes them suspect there will be something else worth reading in this e-newsletter. ‘Cause that’s the only thing that will stop them from hitting that delete button and moving on.
And what’s the best way to instill a little personality into your content?
Try these FIVE tips:
- Got an opinion? Your e-newsletter ought to sound like it’s coming from a person – not a corporation. And people have opinions. Sound off on some of them! One of the e-newsletters we create is this one which begins each month with a “Some Thoughts On …” column. Sometimes it’s about business, sometimes it’s not. Regardless, it’s always worth the read. Make a list of what you feel strongly about and then write about one topic per issue. Your readers will either agree with you – or disagree. But at least they’ll read what you have to say. And if you invite replies, you’ll soon have yourself some good debates going.
- Got some solutions? If you can identify common problems that worry your readers at night, they’ll appreciate your suggesting some solutions. No, you don’t want to be self-serving and promote your own services – at least not all the time. But a healthy handful of “tips and tricks” to make their lives easier positions you and your company as experts. (Sort of like what we’re doing here with our list of five tips, right? J)
- Got any insight? OK, maybe you can’t come up with those common problems (see tip #2) all by yourself, but we’ll bet you anything that the people who deal with your customers and prospects on a day-to-day basis can. We’re talking about your sales people and your customer service people. Talk to them and get their input on what’s bothering your readers.
- Ready to chat? Identify one of your particularly interesting customers and see whether they’d be interested in being interviewed. Readers will enjoy their insights … and the question-and-answer format you can use will include your probing questions or comments as well. It’s an easy way to generate content and one that produces a win-win-win for you, your customer, and your readers.
- Ready to “repurpose”? A particularly useful tip is to generate one article and then make the most of it by using it over and over. Turn on that personality for your weekly blogs … and then extract snippets out of them and run them in your monthly e-newsletter. Not only will you be generating traffic for your blogs by linking to them from your e-newsletter, but you’ll be generating lots and lots of content by “repurposing” what you’ve already written.
And don’t forget … regardless what sort of content you’re writing, write like you speak – and be consistent. After a while, your readers will come to know your writing style – your “voice” — and they’ll read your e-newsletter as if it were coming from a friend or someone they recognize
That may not be your style, but you surely can come up with one of your own
By Paul Hyman, OpenMoves, editor-in-chief