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Janet Roberts

'Chatty' or 'Cool:' Finding the Right Tone
By Janet Roberts

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How would your newsletter sound if your readers heard it speak?

Do you cultivate a personal, friendly feeling, as if you were chatting with the reader over coffee? Or, do you establish a virtual distance, writing in the second-person ("you") or even the third person?

If you're depending on your newsletter to generate sales or client leads, you might be better off adopting a cool, even detached air, unless you want to end up with "a thousand pen pals" instead of a few genuine leads.

That advice, from Doug Pond, who describes himself as "publisher/editor/writer/janitor" of Subject Line Marketing and Design, apparently contradicts the conventional wisdom that says email communications should be warm and personal in order to get responses.

As with any advice, whether it applies to your newsletter depends on what you use your newsletter for and what your readers want to read.

But, if your reader response isn't what you want it to be, consider changing your tone.

Pond's advice appears in a useful compendium of marketers' real-life experiences, "Marketing Inspiration for 2003: Top Marketers Reveal Their Learnings, published recently by and available to download for free.

The report devotes a chapter specifically to email-newsletter advice, beginning on Page 63 of the paper version, or Page 79 if you're reading it online.

Here's an excerpt from Pond's contribution to the report (Quote 379 of 680):

"I created a business-to-business eNewsletter campaign in which an email link that said 'Tell us what you think' appeared in every issue.

"Out of our list of 25,000 subscribers, a lot of people wrote in to tell us what they thought, which I was very excited about at first ... I thought I'd created a legitimate lead-generating tool!

"Not so. Almost all of the replies were the chatty type. My client pointed out that, while the words 'Tell us what you think' is inviting, the phrase either appealed to the wrong demographic (he said he didn't want to create a Lonely Hearts Club) or the wrong type of interaction from the right market. ...

"We kept the email link in for a couple more issues, and it became clear that we were attracting the wrong crowd. So, I changed the location of the email link and the language to the more formal and impersonal 'Contact us,' and it was an improvement; the chatty emails all but disappeared, and the legitimate leads increased."

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Ezine-Tips for April 03, 2003

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