Hello, Hotshot! Happy Valentine's Day! (Almost.)
I wrote you a poem.
A Valentine for Creative Marketers
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Are you, my dearest,
An artist, too?
Do you love Great Copy
Analytics and Ads?
All the Marketing basics!
None of them fads.
Me, too, my sweets!
And don't forget newsletters!
Which every org needs...
(If they only knew better.)
So hugs to you, my creative friend.
(And your violets of blue.)
I'm glad you're in love...
With hot Marketing, too.
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Pop quiz: Do I have a bright future at Hallmark penning niche B2B greeting cards?
Answer: This isn't a real quiz. Keeping day job.
* * *
My friends at Campaign Monitor asked me a few weeks ago to share my best-performing newsletters for a feature they were planning.
Simple question, right? Let's pull on our hip waders and cast a line into the deep waters of the Analytics Pool for the most successful issues...!
Not so fast, Candy Heart.
I stared for too long at their question. That word: "best."
What's "best" actually mean in a newsletter context?
An obvious answer in Email Land is Opens and Clicks. But Email Land is now pocked with privacy-shaped landmines and tech tripwires that have made it trickier for Marketing to accurately measure these basics.
And anyway... are Opens and Clicks truly the goal?
No. Not always, anyway. Here's what I mean:
The obvious answer to the "Best" newsletters would be the holiday gift guide issues (from 2020
). They drove the most clicks and opens.
Subscribers love them. But it's not useful data for me because I'm not a catalog or gift company, am I?
So we're axing these on principle, even if they are the most "successful."
Back to "best" then? We need categories.
Welcome to the 2022 Oscars for Email Nominees, the Total Annarchy Special Broadcast!
I'll let you scan the list of nominees from the past year of this newsletter. Then let's look at what any newsletter publisher can learn from them.
* I made up this metric.
⭐ Newsletter of the Year: TA #80: TikTok with the Best Writing Advice
Not really a clear winner in any category, but solid overall in all categories. Isn't that often what gets rewarded at Awards Shows? And finally:
⭐ Actress of the Year: Lady Gaga (snubbed for House of Gucci, I'm nominating her now)
* * *
Why does my list of Oscar Noms matter to you?
We can take six clear lessons from the bunch of the "best" and apply them broadly across all email newsletters.
1) You can't let one metric mean success. An email newsletter is a relationship, not a single acronym. Patterns over time in several categories are more useful than any single specific metric.
2) Obvious value. Offer clear value to one person in your subject line. How to... might be sometimes dismissed as too basic. But How to still pulls. Although...
3) The From field ultimately matters more than the Subject Line. It's the relationship a reader has with you that will inspire an Open or an Unsubscribe.
4) Not business as usual. Are you surprising your audience? All the winners were different/surprising ("Pumpkin Spice Newsletter," "TikTok Writing advice"). Curveballs are more fun to hit.
5) Current. All the winners tapped into the current zeitgeist/culture ("Hand sanitizer for bad marketing"). References to our collective reality or pop culture builds affinity.
6) Flip off "best practices." Walk your own path. "Write short," the pundits say? Feh. The "best" here were actually among the longest. All story-driven, too.
So: Read all the best practices and advice and How To industry articles like this one.
But then... make your own choices.
Try this on.
See what works for you.
Trash what doesn't.
Adopt what might.
Adapt as you wish.
And P.S.: Don't use popups.
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FREE VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT*