Are you taking your audience for granted?

A couple of years ago, I was doing some research for a coaching client. They wanted to put a new lead magnet together and improve on how they welcomed new subscribers to their world. It meant I signed up a LOT of lead magnets from coaches both similar and for other industries.

This kind of research is great for seeing what other people are doing with their content. The only problem is that it’s missing the important bit — the data about what does and doesn’t work.

I learned a lot about email marketing from this exercise. Some of which I’ll share with you below. There is also a lesson I learned a few weeks ago — a good couple of years after I signed up. Let me share this with you first.

Your audience can tell when you’re only getting in touch because you want something.

That’s it. The big lesson. Okay, there is more to it than this. Let’s call our coach Jemima (not her real name, apologies to any coach Jemima’s out there in real life).

Jemima had a lead magnet that I signed up for two years ago. I analysed the emails she sent to me as part of her delivery and then promptly forgot all about her.

Two weeks ago, I got an email from Coach Jemima telling me about her great new product. How I absolutely must sign up to it right now and that it was built with me in mind. I opened her email because my curiosity was piqued at the name.

“Who is this Jemima lady and why is she emailing me?”

Your audience may forget who you are

Yes, creating curiosity in your email subject lines is a great thing to do. Although not if that curiosity is because your recipient doesn’t know who on earth you are. I read the email, I remembered the research and before I hit delete, I went and searched how many other emails she’d sent.

Coach Jemima had sent me a grand total of 19 emails in around two years. Ten of those are in the last two weeks. Five were the delivery automation to build my familiarity and trust with her. The other four were sporadic marketing emails.

The ten emails sent in the last two weeks were absolutely sales emails for whatever it is Jemima is now selling. I don’t know. I didn’t read them. I’m not going to buy it.

I’m not judging Jemima on her lack of email communication over the last two years. I’m not living her life so have no idea what pressures she’s been under that sending out an email is simply one thing too many on her to-do list.

There aren’t many people I know who haven’t experienced burnout of one kind or another in the last two years. Who haven’t gone silent on the world because they need to.

That’s absolutely okay.

However, bouncing back with sales emails is quite possibly the worst thing to do.

Here are some better ways to approach this

1. Make sure your content is sustainable

Firstly, make sure your content strategy is sustainable. I’d love everyone to consider their content carbon emissions but what I’d prefer is for you to look at how sustainable your strategy is given the time you have.

For example, I know that posting every single day on social media is completely unsustainable for my business. I’ll do it for a bit and then need a break. What is sustainable is having a LinkedIn strategy where I build relationships on the days I’m not posting. So I build that time into my week — which is far more enjoyable.

I know that sending a weekly email is something I can do. I make the time to plan it out, draft and edit it and then send it. Creating TikTok videos? Unsustainable.

Decide what it is that you can do with the time you have. The rest of it is side salad. Looks nice but doesn’t really add much to the meal.

2. Explain

There is a school of thought that you should never explain and never complain. Whether Kate Moss’ or the Queen’s I don’t know. Of course, you should never complain. I’ll have a bit of a grumble to friends but it stops there. Never name and shame on social media.

However, if you need a break from your regular sustainable activities you absolutely should explain, especially if it’s your email list.

It’s okay to say there was no email last week/month/whatever because life got in the way. Or that you’re taking a break to regroup. They’ve been building their trust and relationship in you so let them know that you’re human and wobble like the rest of us is a-ok.

3. Get to know them again

Whether it’s email, social media or networking, it all boils down to building good relationships with people. If you’ve not emailed your list in a while, then get to know them again. Understand what they want.

I used to be a half-hearted emailer. It would be when I had the time and never a priority. I didn’t have a clear email marketing strategy. In fact, since I’ve made this newsletter my space to be a lot more creative, my emails have been way more consistent, successful — and most importantly — helpful. Who’d have thought?

If you go from nothing to selling in one fell swoop, you are taking your audience for granted.

You might have this great new product that you have to launch immediately but that doesn’t mean it’s what your subscribers need right now. They might actually need some reminders of who you are and what you do.

This is true for all content, actually. Imagine if you follow someone on social media and they only remember to post when they’re launching something. It makes for a very boring feed.

4. Be realistic

Overall though, I think it comes down to being realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available. Now, I’m the worst for thinking every task will take me five minutes and that I can get five times as much done in a day than what is doable.

But I also know that goal-less content is the worst kind. It’s putting it out for the sake of it. So many of us do this because we’re focusing on the wrong things such as likes and follows. When actually, we should be looking at what will bring the right people into our worlds. I’ve said this a few times before — but make sure you are giving the right things your time and attention.

Then you’ll see what you can drop and what content you need to concentrate on.

Other lessons from the research

I thought I’d share a couple of other lessons from my research.

Firstly, no one unsubscribes.

You have to clean out your list. Okay, some people will bother to open your email and find that unsubscribe button. But the vast majority are like me. They hit archive or delete without ever opening your email because it’s far easier to do. Eventually, it’ll all go in my spam.

You need to be the one to clean your list.

Secondly, beware the email templates.

I have seen so many sales emails and automation now that I recognise the ones who use the same templates. I had one the other day and I can tell you exactly which email writing course they bought and what email was going to come next.

Subconsciously, a few other people will as well. If you do need a template then make sure you put your own spin on it. Templates are okay to a point but you need to look at how it works for your audience. Although I’m biased as I’ve never been a fan of doing what everyone else is doing.

And that’s it!

I am doing some new research into newsletters. I have a hypothesis about what kinds of newsletters do well at the moment. One day I’ll finish it and have lots of lovely new lessons to share with you.



Content writer by day, fiction writer by night.

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