Get people to read the newsletters you send them.

email-te I recently saw this interesting post on the 37signals. The post talks about newsletters that are actually interesting to read because they are useful to the customer. They teach the customer something instead of just boring him or her with promotions and other marketing material.

In a past life, I was a marketing, not a customer service person. My job duties and title were all marketing focused. Customer service came into the picture fairly often, but most of my work was marketing focused. As a marketer, one of my mantras was to answer the customer’s constant question of “what can this do for me?”

For example, customers, clients, etc. could care less about:

  1. 100 GB of storage
  2. 1 TB of bandwidth
  3. 24 / 7 customer service
  4. Choosing to make customer service a core element in their company
  5. A huge selection

On the other hand, they do care about:

  1. Plenty of storage (100 GB) to upload and share the files that matter to your business. Avoid the time and hassles involved with emailing large files.
  2. More than enough bandwidth (1 TB) to share those files with anyone across the world.
  3. Get help whenever you need it and whenever is convenient for you.
  4. Have more fun, set yourself apart from the competition, boost your bottom line.
  5. Get everything you need in one place – and have plenty of choices.

I remember reading about an IBM training tactic. Sales representatives were trained to think there was a little man sitting on their shoulder who always asked “Why do I care?” after everything the representative said. It is rather interesting to think of it that way.

Getting back to newsletters, you should be answering the customer’s inevitable question (which they answer is about a second or two after seeing the email in their inbox or in the mail) “what can this do for me?”

If your newsletters can teach or inform, chances are your customers will want to read them. If the material that you’re teaching or informing about is really well done, customers will even look forward to seeing the newsletter.

Here are some general tips for writing newsletters that people will actually read:

  • Have some product specific tips. Teach your customers about how they can get the most out of your product or service. If you have a really useful and powerful application that can do a lot of cool things if you know how to use it (I’m thinking like Photoshop or Microsoft Word), then customers will likely get a lot out of this.
  • Have general tips. Another thing to consider is having general tips relating to the industry that a lot of customers are in. For example, a company I worked with that was known for their customer service provided customer service tips in their newsletter since a lot of their customers were small businesses.
  • Use plain language. I am a big advocate of using plain and simple language. Avoid jargon, product specific terms, complicated words, etc. You are writing for easy reading – not to get into the New Yorker.
  • Make it look nice. I tend to think emails that look nice get read more. See this related post.

If you follow these tips, people may actually read your newsletters. It worked for SmileOnMyMac – they provide tips about how to use their products in the newsletters they send. As a result, people not only read them, but like them.

What are your suggestions for newsletters?

One Response to “Get people to read the newsletters you send them.”

  1. Service Untitled » Creating Passionate Users with Email Tips - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Nov 29, 07 at 7:55 am

    […] This is a terrific guest writer post by Jean MacDonald from SmileOnMyMac. I wrote about the company’s awesome newsletters back in October. […]