Let’s talk about that bastion of business communication, the newsletter.
Newsletters are emails that are sent out weekly, fortnightly, monthly or any other frequency of the senders choosing. They tend to be newsy (hence the name) and are used primarily for customer engagement (updates, campaigns) and/or promoting products.
We’ve all received them, and we’ve all deleted them.
Newsletter’s haven’t been around for eons for no good reason. They can be hugely powerful. In fact some businesses have built an entire business around them.
But like the car replaced the horse - and a million other cliches that I won’t bore you with - there are moments in history where things just change.
Let’s quickly dissect a newsletter:
- They tend to be long. When did you last see a short one?
- In contrast to a normal email, newsletter emails are very ornate. Images, links, lots of bold, italics, different fonts. They often include a full width branded header image.
- In terms of structure, they vary. The most common most introduction paragraph, a couple more paragraphs of interesting tidbits and then some links of to their website (or somewhere else)
- The mail is sent en masse to their ‘mailing list’ (a list of contacts stored in somewhere like MailChimp).
- Email feels safe - most of us have been sending email for most of our professional lives.
- Once you settle on a newsletter format, it’s just a question of updating that every time you send it out.
- People don’t open them
- It’s not how people communicate anymore
- Newsletters are finicky. However good a template, they still take far too long
So what's the alternative to poor performing email marketing?
It seems the trusty old newsletter will soon be an artefact of the past, left to languish on the best left forgotten shelf along with the Sinclair C5 and kipper ties.
Fortunately there is an alternative. Newsletters and all other forms of mass mail will fall away and in their place appear something much more engaging and real: conversational (or messenger) marketing.
What is conversational marketing?
Conversational marketing is marketing via messaging channels as opposed to traditional channels (namely email).
But here's the thing: messenger channels are conversational.
Ergo, marketing is about to get very conversational. Conversational marketing means:
- You’ll buy stuff via a conversation, not by navigating a website.
- You’ll speak to a business via conversation.
- Businesses will start communicating to us conversationally rather than through the long form 'Dear Sir / Madam, blah, blah, blah, Yours Sincerely' format.
How would it work?
How would you go about replacing your mass mailing process with a messenger based one?
- The first thing to appreciate is that we can do mass broadcast to Facebook Messenger.
- In the same way you use Mailchimp to send mass emails, there exists software (ahem, Chatamo is one such piece of software!) that lets you mass message peoples messenger apps.
What’s in it for the business?
There is one HUGE benefit to the business of conversational marketing. By having millions of conversations with its customers, businesses will know what their customers truly like, don’t like, care about, are agnostic about.
With that knowledge, businesses can design a truly fit for purpose business that is truly customer first. Companies exist because they have customers. But they don’t always act that way. The brands that succeed will understand this and embrace this communication style.
Imagine you were around in 1990’s when you could buy domain names for a couple of dollars. How about picking up sumo.com back then? You’d be a millionaire already (sumo.com was bought for 1 million dollars in 2017).
We’re at that point in history now. I don’t say that as a marketer. I say that as a someone who has spun up countless email campaigns and seen countless newsletters begin and fail.
Email sucks. There is a better way to reach an audience, and that’s via messaging.