Three Reasons For Encouraging Reader Feedback

Our last newsletter posed several questions regarding unsolicited e-mail ( you can read it here if you missed it ),and concluded with a request for your views on what was appropriate and what was not when it comes to interacting with newsletter subscribers.

The response was amazing! Not only did I get a ton of replies (thank you), but the range of feelings and points of view was all over the map (other than the universal lack of interest in playing checkers with a crafty 5 year old). Some examples from either end of the continuum:

“I think I’m probably in the same camp as Anne on most of these. Other than your newsletter which I expect to receive more than once, if I just sign up to receive a free article from you, that’s all I expect to receive.”

— Jill Whalen, High Rankings, Ashland, Massachusetts

“Anne’s definition of spam is no different than your five-year-old’s definition of moving forward. If she granted you permission to send commercial e-mail, then e-mail she does not like does not suddenly become `unsolicited.’ You can send as little or as much as you want, at the risk of a recipient revoking that permission.”

— Luke Erickson, E-Mail Marketing Consultant, Waltham, Massachusetts

“Stop sending us this junk and remove us from your list immediately. P.S. Would it kill you to call once in a while, Mr. E-Newsletter big-shot?”

— Mr and Mrs. Edward Katz, Annoyed Parents, Great Neck, New York

In any case, today’s newsletter isn’t about which point of view is the right one (as I said last time, I think there are valid arguments on either side, and it’s up to you to decide where you’re most comfortable), it’s about feedback in general. Specifically, today we talk about why getting feedback and comments from your newsletter readers is a good thing.

I can think of at least three reasons:

• It breaks the ice with future clients. If you’re a professional service provider, your newsletter is not intended as a direct response tool. Sure you may sell products or promote upcoming events within, but its primary objective is to position you favorably and keep you in front of a group of people who might one day decide to hire you.

This evolution from anonymous reader to eager potential client however, doesn’t happen overnight. Although you may receive calls out of the blue from readers you’ve never heard of, in my experience, by the time they call they’ve first interacted in “smaller” ways. They buy a product, they attend a workshop, they click on several links within a newsletter, or . . . they send newsletter feedback. In each case they learn more about you and how you do business. With that in mind, the more ways you can interact with your readers, the more quickly you’re going to help some of them cross the line to becoming clients.

• It sharpens your focus. I’ve been a guest on a number of teleseminars lately. The thing I love about them of course is the convenience (nothing beats working in your pajamas). What I don’t like however, is that I can’t see the audience while I’m talking. As a result, I have no way of knowing if I should alter the pace or add more explanation or do any of the other things I might do to communicate more effectively while speaking to a room full of real, live people.

Newsletter feedback is the equivalent of looking into the faces — bored, angry, confused, pleased, whatever — of a live audience. The more feedback you get, the better a feel you’ll have for how your message is resonating and where your readers need a change of pace, an adjustment in content or a modification in format.

• It’s fun. I’ve developed friendships with people all over the world as a result of e-mail conversations that began with newsletter feedback. Most of them never lead to any type of business transaction — we just enjoy the interaction.

Likewise, your newsletter is more than just a tool for generating business — it’s an opportunity to step away from the day-to-day once a month and share a virtual cup of coffee with like minded (or not) people. If there’s a more enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours during the work day, I haven’t found it.

Bottom Line: Feedback from readers is a good thing, and a sign of a healthy newsletter. Next time, we’ll talk about how to get it and what to do with it!

P.S. The comments we received were so good,that I’ve set up a special page on this web site for you to view them. Follow this link to take a look at what your fellow readers are thinking!

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