It’s another Friday delivery of your (favorite?) newsletter about newsletters.
Savor it. There will be no issue next week because I’m taking the week off and moving back to my home state of Mississippi.
I’ll spare you the surge of emotions I’m feeling about leaving Florida, and focus instead on the most exciting feature in our new house (and I’ll attempt to metaphorically tie it into the act of newslettering).
It’s this thing I’ve been wishing for since I began working from home in June 2019. So, you know, two years in the making. It’s an office with… a door!
I feel like a child who is getting her own room for the first time: stinking ecstatic.
You see, I’ve been working in an open concept living room for the past two years and it hasn’t been pretty.
I love my family.
But achieving deep focus while their lives take place around me has been challenging.
Add to that a pandemic and the longest spring break ever (March - September 2020), and you might be able to understand why I’m an adult woman who fantasizes about closing a door. I seriously have daydreams about not getting interrupted in the middle of typing a sentence.
So I’m really concentrating on that door as I box up belongings and say goodbye to the coastal life I love.
Now, how can my closed door fantasy support your newsletter ambitions?
I think I’ve teed up a lesson about distractions—recognizing them and figuring out how to limit them.
And this isn’t just about not having an 8-year-old practicing piano five feet away.
It’s about understanding how you work best and creating that scenario for yourself.
It’s about evaluating opportunities that present themselves and not overcommitting.
It’s about identifying the digital doors you need to close (cough, cough—Slack) and concentrating.
As a subscriber of many newsletters, I can tell you this: the very best ones come from people and teams who prioritize the deep focus it requires to win inbox attention.
Figure out which doors you need to close to keep your subscribers opening.
Today’s issue has a few real downer stories mixed in with some very solid tips and advice.
Maybe I’m a little melancholy about the move or maybe the reports about the state of writing and trust in journalism are suffering from a shadow cast by the pandemic?
As always, let me know what you like or dislike. I look forward to your responses almost as much as I’m looking forward to my new door.
Are You Building An Audience, Or A Community?
Building community as a marketer ranks up there with tactics that are nearly impossible to copy/paste/repeat. And also it’s just plain hard and tough to measure.
You’ll need to be able to moderate, share fresh content, and engage with members to keep it interesting and growing.
In this article, MarketerHire’s Mae Rice explores why successful community building reaps enviable rewards, like loyal customers who don’t just drop your brand the moment a competitor undercuts your price.
She brings in some experienced community builders who explain what it takes to earn this loyalty: namely, that a community will not thrive if it is treated as a sales channel. Instead, it needs to be a space where customers and prospects actually enjoy engaging.
Remember the concept of worldbuilding from last week’s issue? Community building can be nestled within that approach. But do you have the patience and resources to invest in all this building?
Is Double Opt-In Always The Best Choice?
You know what they say about assumptions, right?
In this article, Jason Rodriguez takes a good look at the assumption that email signups should always use double opt-in. You know, the kind that sends you an email and asks you to confirm it’s really you who subscribed.
You might want to consider mixing single and double opt-ins. It’s what the experts at Litmus do.
“We’re marketers focused on growing our subscriber lists, leads, and customer base. As such, we still love using single opt-in where possible. But, we have seen an increase in bot signups and fake email addresses on some signup forms... We implemented double opt-in for those forms.” —Jaina Mistry, Litmus Email Marketing Manager
The article includes a nice pros and cons chart and...
Something you should know about GDPR:
Double opt-in is not required, but clear sign-up forms and unchecked consent boxes are.
Definitely click through if you want some clarity on that.
Newsflash: The Writing Part Of Content Marketing Is Hard
This year’s Mantis Research State of Writing in 2021 survey results are a bit depressing.
Granted, it’s based on 204 responders (less than they’d hoped for).
But that just seems to support the general sentiment writer Sarah Mitchell reports in this article: the marketing and communications leaders who have a stake in this inbound game we call content marketing are all feeling a little “meh” about their work.
Some stats to illustrate the dreariness:
- 70% of writers aren’t satisfied with their work.
- While 61% of businesses plan to increase the writing they produce, only 39% intend to increase their budgets.
- 38% of those surveyed say they’re most challenged by knowing what their audience wants to read, but instead of talking to customers, they rely on feedback from analytics, social media and sales/customer support. Less than half participate in communities where their customers are present.
- Only 34% send all their content for proofreading and only 56% fact-check all their content.
- The competition for attention via content marketing has become pretty intense.
- Writers/publishers are less satisfied when they don’t feel like their work is serving a purpose.
- If you measure the success of content based on the number of leads it creates, you tend to use it more as an MQL tactic than for brand building, which supports a mindset of “good enough is good enough.”
On the bright side, those who are running their marketing teams like media companies seem pretty satisfied with the approach.
Could Human Curation Plus AI Be The Answer For Social Media?
Remember when real humans chose the content we would see on social media? Today, algorithms and AI control the scroll.
In this piece, Amelia Tate advocates for a best-of-both-worlds option.
“In the future, curators could be independent experts in their fields working side-by-side with AI in what Bhaskar calls a ‘blended approach.’ There certainly seems to be a demand for this kind of personal, expert recommendation – 2020 saw an email newsletter boom...”
Potential benefits to a blended approach:
- Less clickbait
- Advertisers can put more trust in platforms
- Creators earn more
- Greater diversity
Quandaries: If we’re speculating a more human social media experience, are we really just saying social media should be more like subscribing to newsletters?
I feel like I just started a “What is art? Is art art?” sort of internal debate in my mind.
Do you want the two to be more alike?
Related: Consider adopting these 5 steps for both content creation and curation.
The Winners And Losers Of Pandemic Publishing
This Media Voices podcast episode reflects on how publishers responded to and performed during the pandemic.
As you might expect, strong pivots often made the difference between winning and losing.
- Travel mags that didn’t pivot fast enough
- Events companies
Set aside some time to listen if you want to hear exactly why these selections were made.
Leaving The Wall Street Journal
Daniel Levitt’s May 21 issue of Inside the Newsroom shares his story—yes, in newsletter form—of leaving The Wall Street Journal. The tell-all positions the decision as a result of a non-responsive standards team that was unpleased with his personal newsletter.
“I told Standards I’d done what they’d asked of me, but I never heard back. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they were slammed with election coverage. But they did find time to email me every 4-6 weeks to tell me I had to shut the newsletter down.”
The whole thing is super meta, right?
Not Really News: People Don’t Trust Media These Days
Speaking of meta, here’s a round up of stories from fairly trustworthy news sources about how untrustworthy people think the industry has become:
Gallup reports that the “percentage with no trust at all is a record high, up five points since 2019.”
What’s New in Publishing unpacks a recent Reuters Institute report “based on open-ended conversations with cross-sections of people in Brazil, India, UK, and the US.”
NiemanLab encourages adding overlays to images that convey misinformation to point out their inaccuracies instead of amplifying their messages.
Want To Earn Revenue With Affiliate Links?
Ali Montag’s guide to getting started with newsletter affiliate links over on the Newsletter Crew site provides recommendations and advice for adopting this model.
Full disclosure: I’m a Newsletter Crew fan, but not an affiliate. 😉
Adjust Your Footer Subscribe Method Text
Cool news, Curated users: we’re chasing last week’s release of settings that support private newsletters with an email footer customization option you might find helpful.
By default, the email footer says “You received this email because you subscribed via the Opt In Weekly site.”
But because you can turn that site off now (and because you’ve been able to embed subscription forms wherever you want, use the API, and import subscribers), it makes sense that you might want to customize this language to be less about publication site sign ups.
For instance, I have one that says, ”because you are a [BRAND] customer.”
To adjust this, go to Settings > Header and Footer > Footer > Subscribe Method Text.
You’ll be able to replace the default with a phrase that makes sense for each publication you send through Curated.
ICYMI: We now have a Curated Public Product Roadmap! Check out our recent releases and what’s up next.
Live Content Strategy Event With Russ Henneberry
Reminder: We’re launching a series of live Newsletter Masterminds, starting with the first one on June 18, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET:
Master Your Newsletter Content Strategy with Russ Henneberry, Founder of theCLIKK
He’ll teach you to
- Strategize newsletter content
- Pick a strong name and domain
- Soft launch your newsletter to test and get feedback on your strategy
What’s a mastermind?
An intimate session where you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and workshop your ideas. Russ Henneberry is the Founder of theCLIKK, a daily email newsletter about digital marketing. He has trained and certified thousands of professionals through his coaching, courses, stage presentations and his book, Digital Marketing for Dummies.
I (Ashley) will be there to cohost. Plus, I’ll spend the final hour (3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET) teaching attendees how to create categories in Curated and use the category-specific metrics located in the Summary Report to guide your content strategy as it evolves.
This session will allow for plenty of direct Q&A with Russ and help you create and position a newsletter that is a must-read for your audience.
Price: $299 (registrants will also receive a $200 Curated credit!)
Opt In Challenge
Consider This Newsletter Course
Your challenge this week is to check out Newsletter strategies for journalists: How to create, grow & monetize newsletters.
Joseph Lichterman, Emily Roseman, and Caroline Porter taught this course live back in February and it’s now available, for free, to the general public. While it’s targeted toward journalists, I’m fairly certain those who don’t identify as journalists (say, independent creators or marketers) will also find it pretty useful.
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 (and sharing?),