I’ve never understood why so many brands turn the choice of unsubscribing from their newsletter into a negative brand experience. Or why purchasing a t-shirt means that the retailer assumes you want to hear from them 5 times a week for the rest of your life.
It’s as old as digital marketing, but the humble email newsletter remains one of the core planks in a marketing strategy. A CMI study found that 93% of B2B marketers are using email to distribute content and an Emarys study found that 81% of small businesses rely on email as their primary customer acquisition channel.
Yet email marketing is one of the most abused marketing tactics around. Too often, permission is distorted, content is treated as an afterthought, and success is tied to short-term metrics.
A rare exception is Hiut Denim, a denim brand in Wales that publishes a weekly newsletter called the “Scrapbook Chronicles”. If you’re wondering why anyone would want to hear about denim every week, it’s because it’s not about denim every week. Following their insight that jeans are the uniform of the creative class, the Hiut newsletter is about lessons in creativity. There are of course links to buy their jeans, but their newsletter is genuinely valuable to read in its own right.
As their co-founder, David Hieatt, put it:
“For me, the newsletter is the most important tool I have in building a global denim brand. Second only to the sewing machine.”
In his book on the power of the email newsletter on his business, David shared a powerful rule of thumb that I think applies to any business or brand:
“If you respect people’s time — and I don’t just mean by saying you do, but you actually do — then you will think hard before you send them a newsletter. You will do your best to make it super-useful. To make it truly inspiring. To make it deeply relevant. To make it as simple as you can. As beautiful as you can.
“The amount of sheer effort you put into it shows respect for your customers’ busy life by not adding to the dross they get sent every day. You won’t have to tell them how much work goes into it, because they will be able to sense it, to feel it, to see if for themselves.
“They will, by your actions, be able to tell that you respect them by only sending something worthy of their most precious asset: time.”
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: