To Click Or Not To Click

Maybe you noticed. Beginning with the January 24th edition of this newsletter, I made a major, significant, pants-shaking change to its format.

I went from including the entire text of the newsletter within the email itself – something I had done for the 15 years preceding – to including just the beginning. In order to read all of it, you had to click a link which took you to my web site.

Some people hated it. Others, when I asked them what they thought, hadn’t even noticed.

Listen To This Post

So why did I do it? What did I learn? And, most important, should you consider doing the same for your own newsletter and those of your clients?

While both approaches have merit, I’ve long been a member of the “no click” camp:

First, because it’s more convenient for the reader; removing the extra step increases the likelihood that the newsletter will be read. Second, because for those who are reading previously downloaded emails “offline” (on an airplane, for example), the newsletter is all there.

Both still true, although I think the offline benefit has greatly diminished in recent years, given how ubiquitous Wi-Fi has become and how many of us use web-based email anyway (Gmail, Hot Mail, etc.).

The pros on the “click” side, on the other hand, have grown significantly in the last few years, something that I think will continue. These include:

  • A move from publication to conversation. 15 years ago, when I began publishing, a newsletter represented the first time the solo professional could afford to speak to a wide group of people, frequently. The variable cost was (and is) nearly zero – the limiting factor in publishing was no longer cost, it was now content. If you had something worth saying, you could say it as often as you liked to as many people as were interested.
     
    But it was largely one way and, even when it wasn’t, the conversations I had with readers were private, just between them and me via email.

    Forcing readers to click, moves them into the conversation – as you can see below, the comments appear directly below each issue. This has several benefits.

    First, more people comment. Prior to the switch this newsletter averaged 8 comments per issue. Since the switch, it averages 28.

    Second, the comments are much meatier. Now, instead of just saying, “nice job” or something similar, many people write several paragraphs. They share their own insights and they cross talk to each other, instead of just with me.

    Finally, because the comments are easily and obviously visible to all who scroll down to see them, they make the newsletter itself more valuable – your comments become part of the content.

    All together, it’s now more of a conversation, less of a publication. I think that’s good for my brand and my marketing.

  • Flexibility and control. 15 years ago, email was on the cutting edge. It was interactive, easily shared and simple enough that you could format and publish it yourself without being highly technical.
     
    Your web site, on the other hand, was a mostly static, locked box whose key was held by your “web guy.” It was hard for the average business person to make changes and updates and there was little happening there anyway.

    Today, while email is still everything it always was, your web site has grown up and blown by it. Video, audio, downloads, product sales – they all live there. Once somebody arrives, everything is available.

    Plus, you, as the publisher, have lots more control. So, for example, while it’s true that most email vendors provide social media icons that you can drop into your emails, they (necessarily) constrain where those icons go and what happens when a reader clicks on one.

    On my own site, on the other hand, I can do things like this, dropping in a “tweet this” bit of hyperlinked text that is prepopulated with whatever words I want.

    Plus, plus, thanks to WordPress and other blog-based platforms, you don’t need the web guy for most of this. It’s become as easy as the other software services we all use every day.

  • Social media. This is probably the most important change and the one which ultimately convinced me to make the switch. Because whether you like or even use social media much yourself, if you’re not leveraging this phenomenon in the marketing of your business, you’re leaving a lot of marketing juice on the table.
     
    When people read your newsletter on your web site, all the social media is seamlessly integrated. They read it, they enjoy it, they click the Facebook “like” icon and they’re done. Five extra seconds of their time and they’ve just told all their friends about the newsletter.

    Sure, they could have still forwarded that same newsletter in email format to one or two or five friends. But with social media, they’re essentially republishing it for you to everyone.

    For you math majors out there, since the switch I’ve seen a doubling in the number of social shares and an 11% increase in the rate at which new subscribers join my list (the result, I believe, of that doubling).

So, the big question. Should you make the switch for your own newsletter?

I’m not sure. One thing I have that you may not is a pretty good size list (6,500 subscribers) and a readership that likes to engage.

If your list is a tenth as large and your readers, for whatever reason, tend to be more passive, you may be giving up more than you gain by requiring that extra click. (For now, I have held off on suggesting to my own clients that they convert.)

Where’s it all going? I don’t know for sure, of course, but I believe that the world has sufficiently shifted – and will continue to do so – in a way that makes the web site the place to be. Sooner or later, I think clicking will be the best format for most newsletters.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below…

 

79 thoughts on “To Click Or Not To Click

  1. Bob Katz

    Hi Michael,

    I had been thinking about the shift you describe for awhile as a way to engage readers but have not ventured there yet. I believe it depends on your readership, as you indicate, and perhaps not time rather than passivity but being the critical factor.

    It would be interesting to hear from other newsletter writers who’ve made the switch what the impact has been on their engagement and ultimately, their business.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Bob! I know, it’s such an interesting question. Just got an email from a long time reader who said, in part:

      “The need to click subliminally suggests more of a commitment which translates to more time (albeit this is a false perception). Still, I won’t do it and I miss your emails. I get them, but I won’t click.”

      This is very typical of whatever negative feedback I’ve heard. People acknowledge that as a practical matter it doesn’t make a lot of sense (we all click things constantly), and yet it feels to them intrusive or annoying or something. Clearly the loss of readers is the cost to the benefit!

      Reply
      1. Kim Reddington

        In my opinion, if someone has an aversion to clicking to continue reading the article, then they aren’t interested enough in what the article has to teach them.

        If they aren’t invested enough to click, are they invested enough in their business, their life, their relationships to learn and grow from the topic of the article? Does this make the person a lost potential client or customer?

        Reply
        1. Michael Katz Post author

          All good questions, Kim. And having lived with this format now for several months, I continue to see it as a situation where, while there certainly are legitimate cons, the pros outweigh them, particularly over the long term (sort of like having children).

          Thanks for clicking and commenting!

          Reply
  2. ken

    Michael,

    Welcome aboard the click-through train… glad to have you! I think it’s win-win for everybody, as you cite above. Care to join me in the club car?

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thanks Sari. Glad you like it (although I suppose only those who like it are still here!).

      Reply
  3. Melissa

    Hmmmm….. very interesting. I like the idea of getting more web traffic to our events/catering company site and our restaurant site. It scares the bee-jesus out of me to have people comment. What if they say crappy things, like so many anonymous posters (#haters) do? Hmmm, and then how to do it. We don’t have a blog based site, but I am able to modify content, just not structure. Anyone else out there who is in the hospitality industry who has done this? And?

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Melissa!
      On the question of people saying crappy things, I go with the philosophy that they are already saying crappy things. At least this way you’re aware of them and can respond. And yes, you do get people who, for whatever reason, come at you with a certain edge. But even those people, if you listen rather than rebut, almost always soften as a result and appreciate the chance to be heard.

      On the format side, I strongly recommend the switch to WordPress (blog-based) site. Not just easier to update, but the social media stuff is baked right in. I switched this site over a couple of years ago. In fact, just redid it again so that it is now responsive (which is why it may look a little different).

      Love to hear if others in your industry can weigh in.

      Reply
  4. TJ Miller

    Michael,

    I’ve been thinking, can you also recommend to me the brand of smart pills you are taking? You hit the nail on the head so hard and so many times with this one — he
    has a migraine.

    I apologize for mixing in humor to your first ever non-funny email. And, I still LIKE you,
    even though you weren’t funny. You gave me a lot of free advice from an obvious expert. What’s not to like?

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thank you TJ, you made my day. In terms of smart pills, I recommend shaving your head – that really opens things up for me!

      Reply
  5. Brandon Rigney

    If your readers are not engaged enough with your opening remarks to
    get down to the “click”, then they will not have read a longer version
    anyway. These are your throwaways on your mailing list. (You’re not
    interacting with 6500 folks, anyway). You may be due for another
    “pruning”, as you did at least once before. Whatever email service
    you use (Constant Comment?) can probably tell you who is not
    opening your email, and thus not reading it.

    I, for one, read everything in each email rabidly, looking for comments
    to remember, to use, to enjoy. So I don’t care if you publish the long
    version or the shorter “click” version.

    To be fair, you may intimidate some readers with a long version staring
    at them when they open your newsletter, so I say go and remain with
    the “click” version.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Brandon!
      I agree, and I think that’s another shift. It used to be, we all read lots of newsletters because there just wasn’t a ton of content out there. That’s all changed of course. I think marketing today is much more about building a fan base – whatever your business – and less about simply broadcasting content.

      And so as you point out, the people who consider the click too large a hurdle are probably not in the fan base category.

      Thanks for rabidly staying in touch as you do!

      Reply
      1. Colleen Wainwright

        I think marketing today is much more about building a fan base – whatever your business – and less about simply broadcasting content.

        I think it always was, and some of us just didn’t know it at the time. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Michael Katz Post author

          Well played, Ms. Wainwright! And great to see you here. Believe it or not, you popped into my head (really) earlier today and I was going to ping you (or whatever the cool kids say) to see how you were doing.

          I may still.

          Reply
  6. Margy Rydzynski

    Interesting and very true. A lot of people don’t realize that “content” can be a lot of different things, not just text on a page. As you acknowledged, there’s an entire new world out there with easy access to images, sound and motion. As long as there’s a story to tell, there are a million different ways of telling it.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I agree, Margy. It definitely took me, as someone who specialized in email newsletters for so long, a long while to realize that the power wasn’t in the specific tool so much as in the concept of staying connected in a particular way.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Bromberg

        I’m just rereading the string – one of the many fun things I do on a Friday night when the Bruins aren’t on – and I think the phrase “staying connected in a particular way” is a really good one. I suspect a great many of us reading this blog / newsletter are folks who used to work in the almost constant physical presence of others, but are now less likely to do so. Staying connected (often also in the form of networking) is building the new water cooler, the new neighboring cube or office, the community in which we work.

        Nice.

        Reply
  7. Jenny Engle

    Michael, you sold me a long time ago. I like what you (and your son) write and am willing to click to read the entire piece. You provide practical, easy to follow info that also is humorous. I think whatever you do should be fun, and that’s one of the main reasons I follow you.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thanks Jenny (I’ll relay what you said to the son)!

      So for things/people that you are not quite as sold on, is the click bothersome to you or irrelevant?

      Reply
  8. Thea

    To click does not bother me and I use a click-through myself in e-mails and newsletter BUT it does not mean that my readers will comment and engage. My readers tend to be staff in companies and, in many cases, their employers have a “no public comment” policy in place.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Yes, there’s definitely a lot of variation depending on your audience. Given your non-commenting readership, what in particular compels you to use the click approach for what you publish?

      Reply
    2. Audrey

      I have been helping a client for many years with a newsletter and we always used the click-through method but have never gotten comments (even though we recently set up the newsletter area of the web site to have more of a blog feel). I never thought about it before, but I tend to agree with Thea that it may be a result of the audience–staff at large companies that can’t comment on behalf of their companies.

      Interestingly, for a blog related to my own business (http://audreykalman.wordpress.com) I have never used the click-through. I still get some comments, but you’ve inspired me to experiment to see if click-through brings more. What I’ve noticed with my own reading of blogs is that I enjoy queuing them up for sequential reading in my e-mail program whilst I sip my first cup of tea of the day.

      Reply
  9. Georgene Thompson

    So you have created a self-fulfilling prophesy here. All the comments are telling you exactly what you want to hear, because all the commenters have clicked through. But what about those who didn’t read those positive reasons you made the switch. I really don’t like clicking through. I surely don’t feel more “engaged” with you by clicking through and by making that click I’m not seeing anything more of you than I did when I got the entire text by email. I feel manipulated and that seems to be against everything you always tell us to do.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hello Georgene!
      I’ve been waiting for you. And I agree, the positive comments here, for the reasons you point out, aren’t themselves proof of the concept (although the number of comments may be).

      But if you could, talk a little more about where the negative feeling comes from. I “force” readers to get out their credit card and pay money when I offer webinars; I require your subscription to this newsletter in order to get a free copy of my book; etc. Why does a click, though, feel like manipulation?

      And you’re not at all the only one who doesn’t like this (I’ve always been on the other side myself), but I am trying to understand it better.

      Michael
      P.S. Do you subscribe to other blogs that require the click and is it mostly that I did a switch on you that’s annoying?

      Reply
      1. Colleen Wainwright

        I don’t think the credit card situation you describe is analogous: there’s an expectation that for a certain amount of value, you will have to exchange dollars. And while some do offer webinars or other online workshops for free, they’ll only offer them live, and then charge for the recording, or they will offer them clearly as an appetizer-sized portion of the full meal they sell. (There are some that have a negligible amount of truly useful content and are just windy ads, but we won’t count those.)

        I grudgingly accept the addy-for-one-off-content swap, because it’s simple to unsubscribe right away if I don’t want the continuing content.

        I have some thoughts on the source of irritation with click-through-to-full-content emails, but not fully-formed. I really hope Georgene comes back to continue this conversation, because the subject fascinates me (and few conversations about marketing do anymore).

        Reply
        1. Michael Katz Post author

          I hope she does too and I agree, it’s fascinating. One of the benefits for me in this switch has been that I’m paying a lot of attention to the trade-offs and all the subtlety involved, something I hadn’t done for years when I was just turning the crank the same way, month after month.

          And, to reiterate the point about engagement, this entire conversation with people agreeing, disagreeing, clarifying, etc., is more than just fun, it becomes as valuable as the original post itself and is powerful marketing juice (BTW, a terrible name for a soft drink) for whomever launches and hosts the conversation.

          Reply
          1. Colleen Wainwright

            And, to reiterate the point about engagement, this entire conversation with people agreeing, disagreeing, clarifying, etc., is more than just fun, it becomes as valuable as the original post itself

            It reminds me of the internet in the Mesozoic Era, ~2005. Ah, those were the days.

            …and is powerful marketing juice (BTW, a terrible name for a soft drink) for whomever launches and hosts the conversation.

            You raise a good point. And you rate the attention, because it would come to you legitimately, i.e. organically and authentically, as a response to a true gesture, not a marketing “trick”. (Boo, tricks!)

            I clicked through this time b/c I am wildly curious about the subject. I’m also immensely grateful for the conversation.

            At the same time (or to be precise, shortly thereafter), I unsubscribed to the newsletter, on principle. I have zero interest in “click through to read more” when the “more” in question is the “real” post that the teaser is hinting at. (I do *not* unsubscribe to emails that send me links to fuller content if that’s not the main purpose of the email in question.)

          2. Michael Katz Post author

            Alright Colleen, but if you think this means I’m going to stop harassing you on a one to one basis, you are mistaken. I’ll be knocking on your west coast door one of these days soon!

  10. Jen @ Daycare In Demand

    I’m generally not a fan of the click-through, but for content I enjoy (like yours) I’m willing to do it–certainly sounds like the upsides outweigh the downsides for your list! And, as someone else pointed out, if I’m not engaged enough to bother clicking through, you probably lost me at hello anyway.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Jen!
      It’s actually somewhat reminiscent to me of narrowing one’s business or newsletter focus. Less people as a result, but those who remain tend to be much more engaged and interested – and those are the people who ultimately hire us.

      Reply
  11. john

    I don’t enjoy it, and I no longer read as many of your newsletters in full.

    But the extra click is still worth it (if I go ahead and do it, that is).

    Reply
  12. Brandon Rigney

    Wow, Michael:

    You have at least stimulated some reactions with what might appear to
    be a “tempest-in-a-teapot”! How can there be such strong reactions to
    a simple continuation of your story on another page.

    A long time ago, newspapers quit putting an entire story on the front page,
    as they attempted to get more stories and headlines in the viewers’ sights
    at first glance of the front page. The same goes with magazines, who put
    “teaser” comments on stories right in the Table of Contents, presumably
    to entice the reader to turn to that page and read the entire article.

    Your “click-through” is simply like a newspaper or magazine article that
    says, “Turn to Page XXX” for the remainder of the story.

    I don’t understand all the foment from your several reader comments.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      I don’t really know either, but I do know it’s very real for people. Reminds me of the way people felt about spam when it was front page news 7 or 8 years ago.

      I never understood why an unsolicited email angered people when all you had to do to get rid of it was click delete, and yet nobody has taken legal action against the junk snail mailers whose stuff I’m forced to store and then drag to the end of my driveway every two weeks!

      Reply
    2. Sue Birch

      This is the first time I have clicked through to read. Before the change I used to read Michael’s email every time. Great content, short read. I got the info, I got out. If I were engaged, I clicked through to his website to read more of what he has written. My choice.

      Brandon – I think you have hit the nail on the head, though. It was a sad day when the newspaper industry moved to that annoying ‘turn to page 6’ or even a different section to get to the rest of the story. Newspaper designers have obviously never had to read their product on a bus, the subway, in a car or even when you’re in bed sick!

      Ah magazines! You go to the article, but then they don’t put all of the story on following pages either and it sometimes (many times) becomes difficult to find the content amid all the advertising. And that’s not even going down the route of what is editorial vs advertising these days.

      Michael knows how I feel about all this since I have written to him a couple of times since he made the change.

      My two cents as a customer of anything : Tell me what you have to say in as few, well chosen words as possible and give me options if I want more information after that.

      Reply
      1. Michael Katz Post author

        Hello Sue!
        And thanks for joining in. I especially appreciate it since I know how you feel about the click.
        Michael

        Reply
  13. Elaine Johnston

    Thanks Michael for the words of wisdom! This message could not have come at a better time because I am in the process of revamping almost everything to do with my business – the name of my business, creating a new WordPress site around that new name, and then taking your advice of sending an email newsletter twice a month.

    I have used the click thru method on and off for several years and it works if people really want to know…I’m in the travel business and often refer people to tour and cruise companies for promotions I am trying to sell…the suppliers always have the best info to pass on…why reinvent the wheel.

    In the words of Paul Harvey: “and now for the rest of the story…”

    Have a great weekend!

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Elaine!
      Thanks for weighing in and all the best in your revamp. So much great technology out there it’s fun to refresh things every once in a while.
      Michael

      Reply
  14. Michael Selissen

    Your other letters were funny? 🙂

    I’ve been awaiting the results and have a few thoughts…

    First, kudos for showing the value of testing, especially when you’re questioning a long-held belief.

    As to the click issue, I think a lot of people (me included) don’t like the idea of being tracked. We’re followed everywhere we go on the Internet. And by clicking we’re giving an implicit thumbs-up to the practice at a point where we have the option to just say “no.”

    In addition to audience size and preference, newsletter format is also a consideration. For bigger letters with many segments (like Ann Wylie’s) or multiple writers, it’s harder to manage engagement across the whole thing.

    And last but not least, not sure I buy the “If you don’t click you won’t hire me anyway” theory. Sounds sour-grape-ish.

    As for me, sometimes I feel like a click and sometimes I don’t.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Great stuff Michael!

      Although I have to say up front that the “your other letters were funny?” comment will haunt me all weekend long.

      I like the tracking insight in particular. That never even occurred to me as a consideration for people.

      Michael

      Reply
  15. Jeremy Bromberg

    Hullo Michael!

    Yeah, I still don’t like it, but if I don’t click I don’t get the benefit of your genius. Intending no criticism of other commenters, I don’t feel manipulated, but it is extra work, though certainly not heavy lifting!

    Do you see a difference in open rate? I’m not surprised at the increase in comments – heck if you’re already on the page it’s easier to “say hey” then as opposed to going back to email to express to you our love or loathing.

    And, does the increase in commentary translate to a business impact? The increase in social shares could lead to that, but do they? Huh? Huh? Huh?

    Interesting findings. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Bromberg!!

      Glad to see you in here.

      Interestingly, my open rate has gone up, which I find odd. I would have thought that those who don’t want to click unsubscribe, or at least stop opening. Not a ton, but a couple of consistent points in that direction. I need to call my email vendor for confirmation, but I’m guessing that since opens are only counted when images are enabled, and since my newsletter isn’t image heavy, many people simply read it without the images. When they click though, it flips the switch for a given reader (images or not). So it may not represent a real change.

      On the business side, of course, that’s the key question and it’s hard to draw a straight line. To me, the most telling factors are

      1. Level of interaction. I seem to already know at least half the people who comment in a given week. If you believe in the power of relationship marketing as I do, the more you interact with the people you know, the more business that comes your way. More comments are more opportunity for the content creator to stir the pot in that way.

      2. List size. This newsletter is the foundation of all my marketing. The faster it grows, the better. I think the 11% gain I’ve seen is real, but that probably requires an even longer time frame to be sure. One big hit on someone’s blog can cause an avalanche of new sign ups, so it’s hard to tell.

      And thanks for clicking (because I know you don’t like it)!

      Reply
      1. Jeremy Bromberg

        You’re welcome. I don’t like it, but I’m good with “paying” that much to benefit from your insight. I missed it during my weeks of protest, and decided I should grow up and lose the protest.

        Based on what you write, increased open rate – a directional, imprecise indicator – sounds more coincidental to the switch to click through, and probably indicates increasing interest / loyalty / cred in what you have to say. (Go figure!)

        Level of interaction leading to more business: do you see year over year growth in your empire’s enterprises? If yes, there’s the proof.

        In your case, list size is proof that your professional living laboratory has cooked up tasty meals. And since that’s what you’re claiming (very accurately) to do for others, growing list size is a really good thing.

        Face it. You’re on a roll.

        Reply
    2. David

      >> Do you see a difference in open rate? <<

      Seems to me that there has to be a drop in "open rate."

      Last year, one-click opened "sesame" on the full newsletter.

      This year, it takes two clicks, first the one like last year that gets you the lede (or teaser) but then second click, which some will not perform to get the rest of the content. That second "open" is almost certainly only a fraction of the first open.

      By the way, is there any point in trying to satisfy both camps by publishing selectively to lists of "one-click" readers and of "two-click" readers.

      You could do the segmentation either by openly [no pun] inviting readers to choose their format, or heuristically based on their behavior when faced with the one format or the other.

      Reply
      1. Michael Katz Post author

        Hi David!
        I think what Jeremy was referring to is open rate as strictly defined by email marketing stats, i.e., emails opened divided by emails delivered (that second “open” gets counted as a “click”). It’s a noise-filled number in any case, with false positives and negatives and it’s definitely not synonymous with readership.

        And that’s an interesting question about the segmentation. I had not considered that either! Thanks.

        Reply
        1. Jeremy Bromberg

          You can use technology to segment, but only if your email provider has it. At the bottom of each page now of online news articles are options to either click through to the next page or “view all as a single page,” which opens it all up in front of you.

          Low cost for Uncle Michael (unless those pesky providers want bank for this), reader friendly.

          Reply
  16. Bruce Horwitz

    Hi Michael – I made the switch a couple of years back, although the click leads to the appropriate post on my blog. When I did it I assumed that people who cared enough to actually read my drivel ;^) would click through and those who were just opening and deleting would continue to do so.

    The one thing I’m sure about is that the click through count is a much more accurate indication of who’s reading compared to the “open rate”.

    Bruce

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Bruce!
      Totally agree on the click/open thing. We tend to equate opens with “people reading,” but in addition to all the preview pane false positives that the open rate represents, plenty of people just open and quickly delete.
      See you (and everyone else here, I hope) for the annual blue penguin ice cream party!
      Michael

      Reply
  17. Don

    Having noticed your change, I ALMOST made the switch when I sent out my newsletter this morning. But I couldn’t pull the trigger! As you note, my list is about 1/10 the size of yours (around 500). I see the pros and cons of both strategies. Personally, I very much dislike the click and almost never click to read newsletters (yours is probably the only exception). But I don’t know how many people are like me. Maybe I’ll switch next month just to see what happens.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Don!
      Since you’re in the “don’t like it” camp, can you say a bit more about why?
      Michael

      Reply
  18. Michael Katz Post author

    Hey, and slightly off subject, but if you want your photo to appear (automatically) every time you comment on a blog (the way some people’s do on this page), watch this short video I did a few years ago:
    http://goo.gl/EYLD1n

    Very simple and a one time thing.

    Reply
  19. Susan Rivera

    3:26 Sat. am here and I just found time to read this. Michael, I must admit that I’m one of those that didn’t even notice “The Change”. 🙂 Although I’d be the first to avoid an unnecessary click (there are SO MANY out there) I’m surprised that anyone would unsubscribe from your newsletter on principal or expend time or energy on any negative feelings about it whatsoever. Sheesh.
    Five clicks, two clicks, zero clicks. What ever. It’s about the quality of the read. And it’s about trust. I know what I’m going to get when I click (my ruby slippers) to come here.
    Your “funny-ness” doesn’t hurt either. ‘Night!
    S. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Terry Matlen

    Strange- I can’t find my comment. Maybe because I clicked out on the Gravatar video link (thank you- it works and I love it). Or maybe you’re moderating responses…?

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Terry. I deleted yours because I thought it was inappropriate.

      I’m kidding! I don’t moderate these so maybe you went to Gravator land before posting. Please try again if you don’t mind (and nice photo, BTW).

      Reply
  21. Kathy Mallary

    I noticed, and I haven’t minded clicking through. In my experience, I’ve consistently gotten more in return for whatever investment I’ve made with you, whether it’s money, time or clicks.

    You had already earned my trust and respect, so I’m perfectly happy giving you an extra click!

    In fact, it might be interesting to look closer at the effect on customers vs. prospects. I would think that customers would be more likely to both click through and join in the conversation than newer prospects might be, but is that proving to be true?

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Kathy!

      On your question, it’s really hard to detect any pattern in terms of who is more willing to click. Some people don’t mind, some people mind but do it anyway, others flat out refuse.

      What I’m wondering, having watching this great conversation unfold over the last few days, and as I think about what the best approach is for those of us who publish content, is whether what’s at the heart of the problem (for those who consider it a problem) is not “the click” per se (we all click stuff all day long, so it’s not so much the extra effort) as it is the feeling that the newsletter has arrived but then, after you start to read, it abruptly ends. It seems that’s where the annoyance lives.

      So, my question for you and the entire group is this: What if instead of a “newsletter” arriving in your email, you simply got an email “notification” with words to the effect of “Good news! There is a new post on my blog which talks about blah, blah. Click here to check it out.”

      It still requires a click, of course, but it’s more transparent right from the beginning and very much in line with the kinds of email notifications we all get all the time. Thoughts?

      Reply
      1. Kathy Mallary

        After giving this a bit of thought, I realized that when faced with an email with a ‘click to read more’ decision, sometimes I don’t click because I’m in ’email’ mode, and I’m afraid that clicking a link might cause me to lose focus — and then who knows when I’d ever get back to clearing my inbox!

        Clicking a link is a bit like going down a rabbit hole — one click leads to another and the next thing I know, I’m looking up some obscure detail on IMDB or Wikipedia and wondering what to have for lunch. And I’ve lost an hour in the process.

        I don’t think it would make any difference whether you call it a newsletter or a notification. If anything, I suppose what might help is if you were to put a reminder at the bottom of the article (on your blog) gently pointing me BACK to my own dang inbox! LOL

        Reply
        1. Michael Katz Post author

          Maybe I’ll put something at the bottom that just says, “Hey Kathy, go back to your email and stop wasting time!”

          Reply
  22. Katherine Andes

    Oh, man, I dunno, Michael. I was kind of getting converted and then I saw ALL THE COMMENTS you have to read and respond to … wore me out. Still thinking about it and may come back to this page later to finish reading the comments.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Katherine!
      Definitely more effort with the comments but I put it (as I do most interactions!) under the heading of “marketing.” The time I spend here, chatting with friends, clients, colleagues, etc. is time I don’t spend wandering around some networking meeting hoping to meet a stranger or two (plus I’m comfortably at my office!).
      Michael

      Reply
  23. Jon Matthias

    Hi Michael
    This was a really timely piece – I’m wrestling with rewriting our email strategy now. We have abotu the same list size and have grappled with how to engage people on our blog and through social media.
    I’m not sure how we are going to get it to work yet, but the results you posted have encouraged me to suggest we at least try it your way and monitor the effect.
    Thanks again.
    Jon

    Reply
  24. Debby Brown

    Hi Michael,
    So many comments! This is an issue I have been grappling with ever since a marketing expert at Constant Contact reviewed my newsletter and told me my newsletter topic was too long and either I had to shorten it or had to put a “click” after the first couple of paragraphs. My problem is that I have so much other content in my newsletter below the main topic, that I’m afraid people won’t get to the other content once they click and leave the page/screen. On the other hand, I do like the idea that I would be able to tell who is actually reading the topic as opposed to just opening it (which isn’t all that accurate anyway). I personally don’t mind clicking through to read the rest of anything. I actually like that it gives me a “taste” of the content, and then I can decide if I want to continue or not based on my interest.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Debby!
      Yes, many comments. This has been a great discussion.

      On the point about “if your newsletter is too long you need a click,” I’ve heard that for years but never understood the logic. If it’s too long (whatever that means) it’s too long and cutting it in pieces doesn’t fix that problem. So I don’t consider that a good reason.

      On the idea that people won’t see your additional sections if they click away, I think that’s quite valid and a point in favor of the “no click” approach. You could but the other “sidebar” sections on your site as well, but it can get a bit unwieldy.

      Like all difficult decisions, I think it comes down to our individual situations and weighing the benefits of each approach. In my case, while I’m no longer on the fence, the fence is still very much in sight!

      Let me know what you decide,
      Michael

      Reply
  25. Diane Spadola

    I have to say, not only did I click through, as I always do….but I also read all of the comments, since the discussion is so lively, and your “comments in response to” were also helpful in drilling home points. Maybe…wherever you go, I just follow? I even went to the gravatar video and watched that! And I already have a gravatar! HMMMMMM–I am so afraid I am going to miss a kernel of wisdom.

    I’m okay on the click through. I am NOT okay on the NOT funny! So hopefully this is the last NON-humor-filled newsletter. Short and unfunny…okay. Short and funny is great. I will click through for both of these options. Long and funny….sure I will follow where you go for a chuckle with good advice. Long and unfunny….hmmmm No, don’t have the time…..

    As always, your humble reader….

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Thanks Diane, as always. And sorry about the not funny. I thought of trying to get some of it back in there but it wasn’t happening! Next time, for sure.

      Reply
  26. Kate

    Hi Michael,
    Not a fan. I loved reading your newsletters in my email, and then would quickly go on to the task at hand. This feels like a diversion. I also don’t like the feeling of being ‘tracked’ for my clicks, whether on my personal home computer or at work. Also, for those of us that are tracked at work as to websites usage etc, this is an extra dissuading step.
    This will be my last ‘click over,’ but I wish you the best.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Kate!
      You are not alone and I get it. Thanks for making the click over, all the best to you too.
      Michael

      Reply
  27. Sohlea Rico

    Hi Michael and all,

    I noticed your click but it didn’t bother me. I find other people’s comments useful sometimes if it’s a topic I’m thinking about.

    I have about 350 people on my monthly newsletter that I take the time to write well (a loyal following of mostly people I know, they respect me and I respect them) and I get regular comments on how much people enjoy it and find it useful. I get a number of emails back each month from people who’s comments are so insightful I’d like others to have the opportunity to see them and respond. I tried a couple newsletters inviting people to go to a facebook forum to chat about the topic but had no takers at all.

    I’ve been thinking about trying this option you have launched and I will this week for my next newsletter and see what happens.

    One thing you didn’t mention in your article is how to do that linking (I use Mailchimp) to a website (wordpress which I mostly manage myself). I obviously need to create a landing page for it on my website.

    Thanks for presenting these options and the pros and cons.

    Sohlea

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Sohlea!

      I think the comment value is very big. For example, in my marketingoneyear.com course, i often receive emails directly from students and ask them to instead post their comments/questions on our private forum, so that everyone can benefit from the back and forth.

      In terms of the mechanics, it’s very simple. Every post on your wordpress site has a distinct URL (the URL for this post, for example, is http://bluepenguindevelopment.com/2014/04/to-click-or-not-to-click/) which, in effect, is the landing page. Then you just link to it from your MailChimp email and there’s the connection for readers.

      Let me know what you decide and what you learn from your experiment this week.
      Michael

      Reply
  28. Tara

    “shifted – and will continue to do so – in a way that makes the web site the place to be.”
    I have to agree- social media may change, and email newsletters may change, but the website is the one thing that stays in the same place all the time.
    I will always click on yours!

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Hi Tara!
      I really do love the control we have on our own web sites. More than anything we have on facebook, linkedin or within email. Something about building a home base however we like is very appealing to me! Thanks for clicking too.
      Michael

      Reply

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