June 9, 2013

Email Newsletters Done Right

This morning I received an email from Justin Jackson, creator of Product People, a weekly podcast interviewing startup experts.

Normally I instantly archive email newsletters but not Justin’s. His email is a great example of how to write a newsletter that subscribers will actually care about.

Let’s deconstruct why:

Hi Ryan,

He knows my name! :)

First, a bit of sad news. Kyle Fox, my illustrious co-host on Product People from day one, is moving on. Kyle and I really liked working together (he’s actually the reason the show got started). We’ll likely work again sometime in the future. ;)

For now, I’ll continue as a solo-host, and will keep interviewing interesting product people around the world.

As a listener, I noticed Kyle had not appeared in recent episodes. This update reassures the listeners of the state of the show in a transparent, respectful send-off of the co-host.

People admire transparency and vulnerability, even more so. These qualities are what build personal connections between those that may have never met.

Talking about Kyle, he’s been really pushing me to think about how funding (VC and Angel investment) could be a good thing. As you might have figured out, I’m a bootstrapper. I’ve been bootstrapping my own businesses since I was in high school. Philosophically it gets me fired up. But I don’t want to just believe in in it for ideology’s sake. I want to look at it from another POV.

Again, adding personality to the man behind the show.

In that spirit, I’ve done a couple of interviews that look at VC funding, and why it might be a good thing.

The next two episodes, with Dan Martell, do just that. Dan has an INSANE story to tell in Part 1, and so good sound advice on why product is important in Part 2. He’s also a guy that has a lot of experience with raising funding and acquisitions.

Then I went even further. I reached out to Jason Calacanis, who is essentially the spokesperson for VC & Angel community. For many bootstrappers, he’s the enemy. But I wanted to hear his story (he has some really good tales about growing up in Brooklyn) and his perspective on Bootstrapping vs Funding.

Here’s a sneak peek of my interview with Calacanis [Video].

Excellent tease of upcoming episodes, especially effective with guests as distinguished as Dan Martell and Jason Calacanis.

Check out the episode list here for exact release dates on all those episodes.

Always useful to call out past episodes or content for subscribers to kill a rainy day and extend the life of this communication.

I also wanted to share a few things from the Product People community:

And this is where Justin nails it. More than ever, content creators need to build a relationship with their audience. One of the best ways to do that is to highlight community members. This not only encourages these members to reciprocate but signals to other subscribers that Justin’s listening to the audience and that they too could be featured.

Cheers! Justin Jackson @mijustin productpeople.tv

PS: Want to help me hack iTunes and get us listed under “What’s Hot”? Visit this link, rate the show, and download as many episodes as you can!

Ask for help. Even the most avid fans need a call-to-action.

Instead of broadcasting a sterile email newsletter, consider how you can:

  • Be transparent, personable
  • Link to valuable content
  • Build anticipation
  • Create a relationship through reciprocation
  • Ask for help

P.S. subscribe to my email list to see if I follow my own advice. :)

More Writing by Ryan