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5 Ways to “Talk Less” and “Listen More” in Email Newsletters


Today I discovered a new iPhone App called “Talk-o-Meter”. This little app works by placing your iPhone between two people holding a conversation. As you are chatting the app monitors who is dominating the conversation with color bars. As their website describes it, “There are friends, colleagues or even partners who do not notice it, when they dominate others in  a conversation. They just talk too much.”

“Talking too much” and “listening too little” can be an easy trap for online marketers. Take email for example: when you are sitting on a huge email list of people who have opted into receiving communication, it is very easy to be tempted to message them as much as possible. Overlay a direct revenue model like display ads in an email newsletter and you may be even more tempted to log in ad impressions and collect the dough.

But this is not necessarily a post about email frequency. This is more about what tactics you are using to listen to your customers. Here are 5 ways to talk less, listen more or do both at the same time in email newsletters:

1. Tease the Main Article
It may seem simple for some of you more savvy marketers, but you wouldn’t believe how many times we have come across this. If you are producing email newsletters for the sole purpose of driving traffic online, do not post the entire story or article in the newsletter! Use an enticing headline and teaser paragraph to drive a click to your website. By “talking less” you may be surprised by how your subscribers will act more.

2. Add a Poll
A poll can be a great way to engage your audience while learning more about them. We have seen great executions of polls where recipients give feedback on what type of content they prefer or how often they like to receive their newsletters. It creates a way to show your subscribers you want to know what they want and gives you great engagement.

3. Encourage Comments
Some of the best tactics blogs and websites use for repeat visits to articles can be leveraged in email newsletters. We have had great success adding a seemingly dynamically driven teaser line below articles like, “(18) Comments, Join the conversation.”

4. Highlight Problem Resolution
I think many companies miss huge opportunities when they don’t look for lemons to turn into lemonade. What better way to highlight your customer-centric approach than by publishing a complaint and how you resolved it? Actions speak way louder than words and this can be a great branding and engagement vehicle.

5. Not 5 Posts Weekly, 1 Post Daily
This is a scary proposition for many because the first thing you think about is, “How can I manage 5 email sends a week?” or, “Can I afford to send that many to my ESP?” or most importantly, “Will my subscribers unsubscribe by this type of frequency?”

You need to decide those answers for yourself. What I can tell you, though, is there is huge success online with “thing of the day” types of websites– and also great response to “One-A-Day” types of email lists. In fact, I found out about the Talk-o-Meter from a daily email called the Daily GOOD.

This is a great way to talk less. Keep the quality of content up and you may see an ROI that makes all of those initial concerns irrelevant.

Have you tried any of these tactics in your email newsletters? Do you have any other tactics you use to “talk less” and “listen more”?

[Photo above by Alicakes, used with permission.]