Guess what people don’t love to read:
Stories that don’t have CONFLICT.
I intentionally use emojis in the subject line of this newsletter so I can scan the reply-to inbox and see which issues get the most direct responses.
And, no surprise, the ones where there’s actually a bit of plot in the intro get way more replies than the ones without.
Think about it.
You’ll hear people say, “Oh, that was such a good story.”
What they really mean is, “I was emotionally invested in the outcome.”
So it’s easy to understand why when I shared about my family’s struggle to get to our cruise port in time after a canceled flight, I got messages from people saying they’d stopped everything to read about it.
And it’s also easy to understand why a less conflicted story about how gemstone hunting (and the jewelry made from it) is like curating quality content results in less response. It teaches a lesson, but there’s not really anything at stake.
So… what am I getting at?
Should every issue of our newsletters drive intense emotional response?
I don’t think it’s possible.
Think about your favorite television series.
Sometimes it’s full of drama and surprise.
But there are also episodes dedicated to character and plot development, where nothing seems to happen.
They’re episodic in nature, moving the bigger story forward.
Our bigger story here is the universal conflict of being a newsletter creator.
We live in a land of conflict:
What to write about.
When to send.
How to grow an audience genuinely interested in what we create.
How to connect with that audience beyond the inbox.
All the opens and clicks and metrics tied to the unfolding of a narrative between you and the people who subscribe to the thoughts that burst from your brain.
Sometimes you will be on fire, telling an intense story.
Sometimes you will share little bits of yourself that help your readers without tapping into conflict.
And, perhaps, if you talk to them enough, you can bring them on a transformative journey that feels more like a weekly letter from a friend, where it seems like nothing really happened, but, in fact, so much actually did.
This week’s round up of newsletter tips and insights includes an article about owning the conversation (see Marketing). What conversation do you want to own, and are you doing that in your newsletter?
How Publishers Can Improve Engagement
When it comes to our newsletter readers, engagement is the goal. This week we’re looking at ways to improve engagement both now and in the future.
- “Any story’s a good story if you can get me to read it.” Faisal Kalim writes about how publishers are engaging readers using wire stories in this WNIP article.
- According to Rick Edmonds, the key to engaging mistrustful newsreaders is this: “Do it quickly.”
- Innovation in media is booming, so why is it innovation in email advertising seems to be stalled? Esther Kezia Thorpe with Media Voices takes a look.
- CEO and President of FIPP, James Hewes thinks that publishers have no choice but to adapt to the changing landscape. This WNIP article explains why.
- Are your subscribers frustrated or engaged? According to Madeleine White, it’s a careful balancing act.
- If your newsletter is going to be competitive, it may help if it’s “on-trend.” Sarah Ebner identifies newsletter trends in this InPublishing article.