Mom Likes Me Better

Let me ask you a question. When you send an e-mail to your mom, what kind of “open rate” do you think you get? What I mean is, what percent of the e-mails that you send to her are opened up on the other end?

Now I don’t know you well, and I’m certain that I don’t know your mother at all (unless she also lived on the 4th floor of Gardner Hall at McGill University in 1979, in which case, I apologize for any bad behavior on my part).

But whether I know the two of you or not, I’m willing to bet that your “Mom E-mail Open Rate” (MEOR) is pretty close to 100%. You send it, she opens it. Every time.

Now consider your E-Newsletter open rate. 20%? … 30%? … maybe 40% if you’re on the high end of things. Whatever yours happens to be, why is your mom three or four or five times as likely to open an e-mail from you as are the people who signed up for your newsletter?

As I’m sure you won’t be surprised, I’ve got some thoughts on this. Thoughts which have a lot to do with why some E-Newsletters are much more compelling (and therefore, successful) than others.

  1. Your mom knows your name.

    Your newsletter readers, on the other hand, may not. Sure, they saw it when they signed up, but that was weeks ago and unless your name is Rumpelstiltskin, they’ve very likely forgotten it by now.

    So make sure that when your newsletter arrives in the in-box of readers, you’re doing all you can to make it clear that it’s from you. I like to include my name, my company name and the word “E-Newsletter” in the “from” area, all with the goal of maximizing the likelihood that you’ll remember me.

  1. Your mom doesn’t want to miss what you have to say.

    She may not like what you have to say, but she knows that the contents of your e-mail may be important.

    Similarly, your job as E-Newsletter writer is to make your readers live in fear that if they skip an issue, they’ll be missing out. Missing out on useful information, missing out on special offers, missing out on what’s going on in the community you’ve created.

  1. Your mom knows that you’re writing to her directly.

    Now this one’s a little tricky, since unlike an e-mail to mom, when you send a bulk e-mail in the form of a newsletter, it goes to lots and lots of people. But even so, you don’t have to write it that way. Most of the important e-mails in our daily lives are one-to-one; we know what those sound like.

    When you write your newsletter in the first person (“I”) to a second person (“You”), it sounds more like an e-mail to mom. For example, at this point I’m 485 words into today’s newsletter and I’ve used the word “I” 12 times and the words “you” or “your” 36 times. I’m (13) not inserting these words consciously – it just comes out that way because when I write, I pretend you’re sitting here with me (and let me just say, you look terrific).

  1. Your mom loves you.

    As a species, we parents are not exactly famous for being unbiased. I believe that my kids are smarter, more talented and better-looking than yours.

    When I go to Parent’s Night, for example, and read my 10-year-old son Jonathan’s story that’s posted on the class bulletin board, I’m thinking, “Shakespeare.” When I read your son’s story? No offense, but I’m thinking “Barney Rubble.”

    The point is, while it’s unlikely your readers will ever love you as much as mom does, the more personally attached to you they are, the more likely they’ll read what you have to say.

    That happens, I believe, when you’re consistently authentic, approachable and interesting. Three things, by the way, that I bet you are in person. The goal is to write in a way that reveals all that.

Here’s the bottom line. “Open rate” as a calculated piece of e-mail data has so much noise in it as to make it practically irrelevant. But the concept that the statistic is trying to represent is vitally important: How interested are people in the things you send?

Write so that readers recognize you, benefit from your point of view, feel personally connected and maybe even love you. When that happens, they’re just one baby step away from hiring you.

P.S. Call your mother.

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