Newsletter! A letter with the news. That’s probably just what it is. But the consumer doesn’t want to read those! They are too busy on Facebook, reading messages on intra nets and training for triathlons. When was the last time YOU received a newsletter that you read from start to finish with interest and enthusiasm?

Since the launch of the Gmail promotion tab, most newsletters luckily end up there – so that I don’t see them and therefore don’t have to remove them to ensure peace and order in my inbox. Or, more correctly put, I notice them a few times a year when my OCD demands that my promotions folder is also cleared out. A lot of companies also don’t just send one newsletter a month, but up to several a week!?

It should work, but are the customers actually satisfied? Are they happy with the communication they are receiving? The newsworthiness can’t possibly be that strong, considering the amount of newsletters sent.

The perspective must be shifted from what the companies have in mind (and on their shelves) to what interests the customer. Even if that means being silent every once in a while. That allows you to put extra effort put into the communication at other times. And it is okay to send – just as long as there is a high degree of relevance, the content is personal, and the timing is appropriate. Furthermore, companies should look at the customer in relation to their brand.

So, how do you do that?

If the Marketing department sat down with representants from Sales, Customer Relations, Online, Stores, Logistics etc. and brainstormed upon which touchpoints in the customer’s interaction with the brand that could lead to a communication, the board would be full of post-its in no time. And more precisely, the exercise would then be to select on the basis of business value and prioritize based on ease of implementation, which communications that would make up the first phase of a true digital customer experience. A customer experience that isn’t solely measured on open-rates and click-rates, but one that is measured on long-term customer-centric metrics, such as Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Satisfaction.
A customer experience that isn’t solely measured on the success of one channel, email, campaign or physical store, but one that is measured on the departments’ ability to collaborate in order to create a seamless experience across channels and touchpoints.

But what about the products that are still in stock and that have to sell? Fair enough, that’s life. The products must be sold, but what about using data to find those customers that the products that are collecting dust are most relevant for? And stop bothering other customers who either have already purchased the product or through data clearly indicate, that another product would be more relevant. Again, silence is gold. And that silence leads to a high degree of customer satisfaction.

Every send-out – on any given channel – should include messages with a Call to Action. You must make it crystal clear what want with your communication. If it isn’t, you probably shouldn’t send it out. With a large button, make it clear that this is where customers should be doing something. This is where your customers may learn more, purchase the viewed products, update your information, express your satisfaction, etc. 

Is the newsletter dying then? Well, probably not tomorrow … But soon. Companies will become more careful of spamming their customers and better at communicating with more relevance and better timing. In my opinion, changing the perspective from the newsletter to user-driven communication is a huge two-sided challenge for companies. There are plenty of systems that can handle the automation, so this isn’t where the ice is breaking. It is much more of an organisational question!

It requires for the company to decide on going in the same direction. That means:

  1. Having the right people and the right competencies
  2. Having the correct metrics to measure the effects of your work

And of course, this is a lot easier said than done. A single system or change in a system won’t be able to solve the task. It requires – as with many other things – the right people to push the buttons and constantly monitor that the ship is sailing in the desired direction. And the desired direction could be to achieve a higher degree of customer satisfaction and higher lifetime value. Thus leading to more sales and a larger revenue. Objectively speaking, in this day and age the newsletter has become somewhat of a basic – everyone has one. And to turn it around is often a management decision. A decision to reach a common goal across departments and channels. A decision regarding how much – put quite frankly – respect you show your customers.

I feel like the little boy in the crowd in the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Standing with all the excited CMOs, shouting: “But you aren’t doing it for the customers!”.

Because why is it that companies send newsletters? The biggest reason is probably; “all the others are doing it!” Which is always a bad reason. Other answers could be; “to ensure brand awareness”. That makes sense. Then do it in an elegant and relevant way. Surprise your customers by showing them that you listen, understand and adjust. Weave the relevant news into this customer-centric communication, instead of sending out bulk communication AND personalized communication. That causes the good communications such as reactivation, product enlightenment and Net Promoter Score to drown in a large amount of irrelevant communication – or as in my case – to end up in the Promotions tab. Eliminate those and use your hard-earned permissions to delight and to secure that communication from you specifically, are moved to the inbox.

Read our blog on how to take your newsletter to automation

Take me there!