Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the advice coming at you from… well, all the people who use the internet to get your attention?
Especially when the advice is mediocre.
Or a diluted summary of advice that I could be getting from a more credible source, except the person delivering it is acting as if they thought it up because they heard if they provide informative content they can try to sell me something.
Publishing is so easy these days.
Winning my recognition and loyalty is tough.
Last week, I wrote about being undeletable.
This week—and this could easily be based on the fact that I’m processing all the emails I restrained from opening during the Thanksgiving break—I’m overwhelmed by how many senders use a flawed bait and switch approach.
As I open, swipe, delete (and occasionally unsubscribe) on repeat, I’m reminded that only a handful have EARNED the right to sell me something.
What do I mean?
Only a small segment of people (who use the internet to get my attention) have made so many “undeletable” deposits with me via email that when they launch a sales sequence or squeeze a product plug into their newsletter, it doesn’t sting.
It actually feels like something I might want to invest in.
Or a next step in our relationship.
So I’m going to stick to applying my own standards for newsletters and sales emails (which, when done right don’t even read as sales emails) to my own newsletter and encourage you to do the same.
Earn the right to sell your reader something.
Or show them a sponsored ad.
Or mention your product.
Or charge them for your premium content.
Earn it with content they rely on and really want to read.
In today’s issue, I’ve curated some very solid advice and ponderings from experts to help us strategize and improve our newsletters.
Many of them have extensive experience with figuring out what people really want and how to give it to them.
Newsflash: it’s not always what we want it to be.
B2B Marketers, There’s a Disconnect Between What We Think People Want & What They Actually Want
Ray Schultz at MediaPost gives some context to a recent UberFlip survey. 500 North American B2B marketers and buyers participated in the survey, The Experience Disconnect.
Here’s how it breaks down:
How good we think our content is
52% of marketers think they’re doing great (rating of 4) for content personalization
33% of buyers rate irrelevant content as one of the most frustrating tasks when researching a purchasing decision
What marketers say they prioritize: long-form
What customers actually prefer
User reviews, 64%
Product tours, 43%
It’s not a huge surprise that marketers are prioritizing content that, when gated, earns leads, but that customers prefer to be able to learn something without that step.
Related: Check out Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube.
Why Authentic Marketing Will Replace Advertising
Leia Ruseva provides a case for transitioning from ads to what she calls “authentic marketing,” aka content marketing aka telling your brand’s story.
Related: Learn how Facebook’s latest ad tool fail puts another dent in its reputation.
Also Related: And why Instagram is Letting Advertisers Create Posts With Users’ Accounts.
Should Brand Perspective Replace Brand Story?
Just when everyone is wrapping their minds around content marketing concepts and Donald Miller’s StoryBrand methodology, Kyle Monson is saying the editorial approach to marketing should be more about a brand’s perspective than its story.
To be fair, StoryBrand is about positioning the customer as a hero and the brand as a guide who helps her achieve greatness, so this can read as a bit of nuance, but I like what Kyle’s saying about aligning a company around a brand point of view and really focusing on how you serve your audience.
“We’ve spent the past decade applying an editorial approach to brand communications, and we see the marketing world moving more and more in this direction. In my opinion, it’s a future we should all be pushing for, because it’s entirely based on providing value to people, and optimizing for the audience experience.”
He also makes a very valid point about how storytelling alone can fall short of building brand identity.
“So be careful building your content channels around storytelling. A smart POV, on the other hand, contextualizes the world of both the brand and the audience. So what do you stand for? Why do you exist? What do you think about the space you’re in?”
This ties into my intro today and the problem with too much content that doesn’t actually achieve the goal of earning attention and building a relationship.
How Important is Formatting to SEO?
In The problem with the ‘structured content’ mindset, Mordy Oberstein explains why he thinks prioritizing structure (the overuse of headers, tables, bullet and numbered lists, snackable paragraphs, and structured data) is dangerous.
“It’s the notion that good content is structured content. And that is just not true. How a piece of content is structured does play into content quality. Structure, however, is not content quality per se. It’s merely an element.
More than that, it’s not a universal element and this is where I really have a bone to pick with SEOs.”
He goes on to explain, with visual examples, why ranking for Google’s featured snippets doesn’t require a listicle article with perfect headers and that SEO tools aren’t yet able to measure actual readability. It’s enough to make you feel a little better about that really well-written article your software tells you doesn’t measure up.
It’s also more to ponder as we reconsider publishing fluff for the sake of publishing.
How Janel Loi Curates BrainPint
We all have our ways of sorting through content for the next issue. Check out how Janel Loi curates BrainPint.
You might find some news ideas as you read through her process.
What Micro News Startups can Learn From Micro Brands
Phillip Smith provides insights as to why small news organizations can thrive in today’s attention economy, especially if they look to intentionally small brands as a blueprint, in The Future of Journalism Is Tiny, Targeted, and Timely
Related: Read Evan Rutchik’s stance on how publishers can compete with Google and Facebook in Do publishers stand a chance against the digital duopoly?
Want to Sell Newsletter Ads? Here’s What You Should Know
Ryan Sager provides a framework for what to think through if you’re hoping to sell newsletter sponsorships. He addresses some choices you’ll need to make, such as what kinds of ads to sell and how to find advertisers.
Speaking of Formatting, Did You Know You Can Create Headers?
Hey, Curated users. I accidentally figured this out one day and it was a little thrilling.
You can use hashtags to create headers in your Markdown body copy.
1 Hashtag equals a bold H1
# 1 Hashtag equals a bold H1
2 Hashtags equal a regular H2
## 2 Hashtags equal a regular H2
3 Hashtags equal a bold H3
### 3 Hashtags equal a bold H3
4 Hashtags equal a regular H4
#### 4 Hashtags equal a regular H4
5 Hashtags equal a bold H5
##### 5 Hashtags equal a bold H5
6 Hashtags equal a regular H6
###### 6 Hashtags equal a regular H6
It’s important to note that you should use smaller headers (we recommend H4 - H6) if you want Google to read them as intended for SEO.
We’ll get this added to our Markdown Support, but now YOU know.
Opt In Challenge
Download These 9 Last Minute Holiday Deliverability Tips from SparkPost
Inboxes are crowded this time of year. This week’s challenge is to up your holiday email deliverability.
Download SparkPost’s tip sheet for advice like
- Creative personalization ideas beyond just “Hi [First Name],”
- Tactics to prep for increased holiday traffic volumes
- Ideas to keep tabs on what the competition is up to (and how they’re performing)
Like this newsletter?
Let me know. Reply, email me at Ashley[at]optinweekly.com, or find me on LinkedIn to hit me with some feedback. I’d love to know what you think.
Also, I’d appreciate it if you shared it with fellow email newsletter creators. All archived issues will be available on OptInWeekly.com, so you can send them the link to check it out.
Have a great week sending, y’all.
Thanks for reading,