Hey. It's Wil.
I write about the intersection of communications and technology, especially for those looking to build new ways to communicate with their B2B clients. Thanks for being here.
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My latest article is below. More about me is here.
Have you heard all the news about email newsletters?
They are back in vogue!
They are popular again!
They are the new social network!
If you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, you know how wonderful email newsletters can be. Of course, if you’ve been on the internet for any length of time you know how awful email newsletters usually are.
For me, when it comes to email newsletters, I’ve been a Mailchimp fan (even before they were cool). I’ve definitely tried other email service providers along the way. From ConstantContact (it was forced on me, I swear) to Salesforce and SugarCRM (more CRMs with a tacked on email solution, back in the day) to Marketing for Microsoft Dynamics and even HubSpot. I’m sure I have accounts with Revue (they are great!), Medium (I think they are good?) and the newest one, Substack (I haven’t tried them). I think I even created my own email service at one time, mixing a heavily formula’d Excel sheet with Outlook.
Well, today I added another one – Email Campaigns from Squarespace.
Who’s that &*$% guy?
While I started my career in IT, I quickly came to understand my value was in “explaining” technical things. Yeah, I could tear apart an old Novell bindery server and rebuild it as an NDS powerhouse (1GB of RAM!) – it only made sense if I could explain it.
Which meant I had to quickly understand how to tell a story.
Which quickly got me into understanding consumer behavior and messaging.
Which allowed me to rebuild our company server (and eventually to build our very first Linux-based email server). (← See what I did there!)
Email is the best!
I’ve always been fond of emails. Yeah, I’m probably the guy that likes meetings, too (I am!). However, I only like emails and meetings if they are done right. Both need to be simple, actionable and be obvious about their conclusions (and next steps). If they aren’t, they stink and even I want to opt-out of them.
And that’s why I like emails (and meetings). Just because anyone can do email marketing doesn’t mean everyone should do email marketing. For those who landed in the second bucket, it’s quickly apparent. Either folks don’t sign up for your emails to begin with (your brand stinks) or they sign up then unsubscribe (your storytelling stinks).
Not another email provider!
My disclaimer here. Or, disclaimers:
Mailchimp has always been there for me. Creating that nice balance between being incredibly powerful and easy to use. No matter what I ended up saying below, I’ll likely have an account with them until either they or I go away.
I’m a guy who doesn’t have 1,000s of personal email subscribers. Uh oh, which bucket do I land in?!
Yeah, I’m a Marketing professional with a technology problem.
Today, I sent out my first email newsletter using Squarespace (the same folks who host this very fine website). Here’s the one thing I came away with:
“Dang, that was easy.”
— Me. Circa April 14, 2019
There are some confusing parts (wait, where do I look for analytics?) and some odd things missing (wait, can’t I personalize my emails?), yet I keep going back to the thing above. It was super easy.
Back in 2006, I moved from the PC world to the Mac world, and here’s the one thing I remember from that transition:
“Dang, that was easy.”
— Me. Circa August 2006
Not only was it easy, it was easier to be more productive. Spend more time on the things that create value for clients vs. spending time on things that create value for me (I wonder what would happen if I opened Regedit and…). That’s what sending today’s email campaign reminded me of: it’s great that I can spend my time tweaking all these settings but should I be spending my time tweaking all these settings?
I’m not saying Macs are better than PCs for everyone (wink, wink) nor am I suggesting Squarespace is better than Mailchimp for everyone. However, for a guy who realizes his value in life is to figure out how to tell stories in a creative way that leverages technology in order to deliver things (and to opine on how great Hristo Stoichkov and Owen Nolan were), Email Campaigns from Squarespace is worth giving a try.