Email Newsletters: a Best Practice That Needs to Die

DemandBase has just announced a webinar series called B2B Marketing Best Practices that Need to Die (I will present one of the sessions). Today, I’m working on my presentation for Monday’s lead nurturing webinar 7 steps to finding untapped revenue in your marketing database, where I’m presenting real best practices.

That made me think: in lead nurturing, are there any common “best practices” that are actually ineffective? Yes! For example, the monthly newsletter.

Today’s prospects are “crazy-busy” and “frazzled” according to Jill Konrath in her new book SNAP selling. I totally agree. If you send prospects an email, it better be relevant. If not, your email will be ignored, deleted or – worse – flagged as spam.

Monthly newsletters were a best practice in the early days of email marketing. They were designed to “stay in touch” and offer something of interest to everyone. In other words: it tried to be everything to everyone!

Newsletters break the primary rule of effective email marketing, that is: you need to segment your list to make messages relevant. A monthly newsletter is undifferentiated, and won’t please anybody. Instead, create unique messages for smaller segments of your database.

If you’d like a response to your email, you need to have a call-to-action. That works best if you have only 1 call-to-action per message. Again, this is where newsletters often go wrong: they try to promote a webinar, a whitepaper, and a new product, all in the same message. The result: terrible response rates for all of these call-to-actions.

Instead, segment your audience, figure out what they’re interested in, and send them targeted emails with only 1 topic and 1 call-to-action. And stop sending that monthly newsletter.

Learn How to Create Effective Lead Nurturing Campaigns

To learn more about creating effective lead nurturing campaigns using real best practices, please attend Monday’s webinar 7 steps to finding untapped revenue in your marketing database, hosted by Act-On Software.

Click here to view the webinar recording »

Please consider sharing this post via the buttons on the left. Or subscribe via RSS or subscribe via email.

5 thoughts on “Email Newsletters: a Best Practice That Needs to Die

  1. Jeff Ogden

    Interesting if controversial post, Jep. In the most recent white paper I penned on email marketing, one of the most interesting questions came from the CEO of E-Dialog “When do I NOT send an email?”

    The monthly newsletter is a good example. Generic, broad brush goes straight into the trash, especially foer those of use who use smartphones, like iPhones, Blackberries and such.

    Short, highly targeted messages work today. It is time for email marketing to change. Keep up the great work.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    President, Find New Customers
    Our new home…..

  2. Rob T. Woods

    While I agree that sending out un-targeted e-newsletters is wasteful, some consumers may be genuinely interested in one’s product or brand and want to opt in to a monthly message.

    The thing to be wary of when creating an e-newsletter is the content itself (i.e. is it something useful to readers) and the list (are these double opt-in individuals?).

    While e-newsletters are continuing to change, I surely don’t seem them as something that needs to die.

  3. Jep Castelein Post author

    Jeff, agree. Short target messages are the way to go.

    Rob, agree, if you manage to send out an extremely relevant newsletter every month, there is no need to stop doing that. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 newsletters I see are undifferentiated. So maybe I should say: undifferentiated email newsletters have to die :-)

  4. Joe Z

    Even though anecdotal, I wholeheartedly agree that Jep is correct about “9 out of 10” newsletters being undifferentiated (in other words, without value). Marketers who are not focused to be content producers usually feel pressured to produce content just for the sake of producing content on deadline, or slap up content lifted elsewhere that is not honed for the audience. Or as in many instances, feel bound to “that’s what we’ve been doing for the past X years.”

    Based on data you gather over time from individuals, Marketers are better able to tailor content (including graphics) to those individuals on a frequency and depth that they want. This may seem “pie in the sky,” but the technology exists today; it’s just a matter of allocating the resources to sustain it.

    Your prospects are “crazy-busy” and “frazzled” and so are you; and the transformation into a network-centric marketing organization that gathers, stores, analyzes, shares, and acts upon data is hard but necessary. Otherwise, prospects will gravitate towards where they believe they are indeed getting the solutions they want.

    In addition to providing value in the products we sell, we must now provide value in the *relationship* we are trying to foster. If we provide value to the relationship, which starts before the sale, the relationship will work. If not, it won’t. Content is a critical foundation of the relationship and Marketers must learn to give content to their audience in the context and format they want, when they need it.

    “Monthly” newsletters are nothing but legacy “push” initiatives that need to be revisited lest they just be a waste of time for the Marketer.


    Joe Zuccaro

  5. Pingback: A Layered Approach to Lead Nurturing in B2B Demand Generation | Demand Gen (r)Evolution

Comments are closed.