It’s you not me

Email newsletter tips

Adrienne Robins


By Adrienne



Email newsletters continue to work in terms of marketing ROI. In truth, some work better than others, though.


So what does a good B2B newsletter look like? Clearly, it needs to motivate the recipient to take a specific action and communicate brand personality and principles.


For many B2B marketing teams email newsletters should also be quick, painless and cost effective to put together, distribute and monitor. By contrast, many businesses find themselves bogged down in content calendars, copywriting and distribution schedules.


And therein lies a huge problem. Email newsletters, like social media, can become a time thief if you let them. So, here are my top five tips to keep your email newsletter schedule lean and focused.


  1. Clean and segment your data.People change their emails regularly. Get someone to look at the hard and soft bounces and review the list. You’re wasting your time and money if your newsletter doesn’t even get to the right inbox.
  2. Less is more. People don’t open newsletters expecting to read lots of copy. They want to be directed to an opportunity or something of interest. Give them a snippet and a link and then tell them to use it.
  3. Make it mobile. If you use Mailchimp or similar, your e-news will be optimized for mobile. If you’re coding your own or outsourcing the process, take a moment to check it makes the mobile grade. Many people open newsletters away from their desks while multi-tasking; make it easy for them.
  4. Be relevant. Your e-newsletters should be about your customer not you. Most are interested in content that makes their life or prospects easier/better. What’s the best way to do this? Answer your clients’ questions and problems. It really is about them, not you.
  5. When do you open newsletters and when are you most likely to take action? When you’ve got a bit of downtime? The morning commute or over a lunch break is good for business propositions as people are less likely to be head down in research or in back-to-back meetings at these times and yet will still be in the work zone.

There’s one important area I haven’t covered and that’s subject lines. That’s for another day…

How old is too old?

Adrienne yellowBy Adrienne


My heart says I’ll never be too old. My head says it may happen one day – but not yet.


Let me add some context before you read any further. I’m 48 and I’m loving this decade. I’ve got shed loads of experience that people value. There’s still lots to learn and new avenues that need exploring. Suffice to say, I have high hopes of my 50s too.


The thing is, when it comes to age you need to ask “what for?” And in this instance I’m thinking specifically about social media.


The thing about social media is that it can make you feel old. Even when you’re still in your twenties! The constant change, updates and ongoing affirmation are not for the faint hearted.


Today I had coffee with a couple of ex colleagues, one a marketing strategist and the other an SEO expert. Between us we span three different generations. And to be honest, because we’re marketing bods, we’re good at social media. It’s (part of) the world we work in. The one we’ve embraced, even if none of it existed when we created our first campaign or filed our first copy.



So, while the three of us will happily post, pin, share and comment, we’re probably not representative of our peers. For us social media is about creativity – not age. But for some social media is very age specific.


I say this because one of the comments I hear over and over from my B2B clients is “But I don’t get social media”. Swiftly followed by “I can’t waste my time on Twitter” and “Why should I bother with LinkedIn?”


As for Instagram and Google +, for many medium sized B2B clients, these are still uncharted territories. What’s changed recently, though, is that these same people are now telling me they know they “need to do something” – they just don’t know what. Or who should do it.


Here’s the thing: effective B2B social media needs time. To get time it needs to deliver results. To deliver results it needs to be backed by a solid strategy and messaging.


To achieve this your strategic team needs to combine brand and strategy expertise (likely to be director level) and social media understanding and enthusiasm (likely to be executive level).


Delivery needs to be clearly directed, efficient and responsive. It’s not enough to simply hand your social media over to your newest, youngest, most enthusiastic recruit and watch from the sidelines. But you can manage the process as a team.


My advice for those struggling with social media is this:


1. Understand why and how

Know how they work, who they talk to, and what they can achieve. Relate them back to your marketing goals.


2. Be honest

If you need to do more, are you really the right person to deliver it? It might be more cost effective to enlist the help and creativity of a social media expert or to upskill and manage a member of the marketing team.


3. Find shortcuts

Investing in a tailored training session can be a quick win. DIY social media means you’ll have to find your own shortcuts. Insist that your trainer leaves you with a list of social media hacks.


Back to my initial question: how old is too old for social media?


The answer is never – you just need a strategy and team which plays to your strengths (and interests).



The dying days of old media?

Paul yellowBy Paul.


The other week I read an article that didn’t surprise me.


Print advertising in newspapers was down 30% over the past six months, but ad revenues are down on newspaper websites too. (More here)


On the one hand, people are buying less newspapers – I can’t remember the last time I bought a physical newspaper, but on the other, people are also consuming news digitally. Yet, this consumption of digital isn’t leading to higher revenues.


For the old media, represented most by the national newspapers, I think the problem is that they have become mouthpieces of either vested interests or are staffed by people who have no conception of a world outside of London’s Islington, Kensington, Clapham and Shoreditch.


I lived in London for 15 years and I still think it is a great city, but there are loads of brilliant things going on elsewhere.


When I moved back to my home city of Liverpool a year ago, I was struck by how much energy and vibrancy there is here and how people are giving a collective FU to the London-based national media and just getting on with being great.


There are loads of fantastic businesses here, being creative, being bold, being strategic and taking risks. But too often, the national media sneer at them or just ignore them.


Take Nisha Katona, the founder of the superb Mowgli on Bold Street (and now in Manchester too). This former barrister has created an Indian street food restaurant that is loved in Liverpool and I’m sure will be in Manchester too.



Check out Mowgli’s Facebook page. Nisha has just written a book, Pimp my Rice, and has had a two-page spread in the Independent newspaper on how to cook rice. She is justifiably proud of this.


But as she wrote on FB: “I will tell you why this 2 page spread on Pimp, in the Independent, is a big deal. It’s an encouraging moment not just for me. For a national broadsheet to even countenance publishing an article on a Liverpool local author with no pedigree, no big PR machine, no major TV profile, gives hope to anyone thinking of taking a risk and writing a book. My experience thus far has seen national broadsheet Crackens awake usually, to sneer and slate our northern, outside of Shoreditch attempts, by way of ‘critique’ or caustic one liner.”


While people are still reading national newspapers in print and digital form, possibly the advertisers are starting to realise that their brands are being negatively tainted by this sneering attitude to their customers and where they live. I think brands increasingly want positive associations, and the national press are uniformly negative.


In fact, it is now better to organise your own event for face-to-face comms, set up a digital communications strategy, and maybe then consider traditional PR as the least important bit.


With other communication methods out there that don’t involve them (the sort that we are experts in!), will the national press be able to change?



Paul yellow

By Paul.


Did you watch This is England ’90? I did.


I’ve also been to see Ride in concert twice this year, and I saw Slowdive last year – both bands I loved in the early-1990s until Britpop came along and put an end to shoegazing.


Is is me or are people thinking about the 1990s a lot more? Maybe it is nostalgia as all those people who came of age in the 1990s (like me) are getting close to or passing over the 40 age barrier.


This decade was also the last one of analogue innocence. Remember Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 and wrote the first web browser in 1990.


I first started to use the internet in 1993, and it was nothing like it is now. You used to sit there waiting for ages for something to happen, and quite often nothing happened except some lurid text on a lurid background and if you were lucky an image might appear.

Channel 4's This is England 90
Channel 4’s This is England 90


In 1996 I was at university in California and I remember staying with the family of this girl I went out with and they let me use the internet to look up the latest Liverpool FC news. This guy who was also visiting worked for NASA and showed me its website, and it was rubbish. Even NASA in those days had a crap website.


And in the 1990s, hardly anyone had a mobile. In fact, I remember going to Glastonbury in 1994, and if you wanted to go and see a band that your mates didn’t want to see, that effectively meant that you wouldn’t see them for the rest of the day.


When I got my first mobile phone, probably sometime in the late 90’s, I was the first of my mates to get one, and the phone was basically there for making calls, texting and playing that snake game. But I had no-one to call until eventually they all started getting one.


If you are 16 now, like I was in 1990, you’d probably think that the 1990’s was crap with no internet and no phones. But it was great and I loved it.


Would I want to live in the 1990s all over again? No way. Times move on and now I can’t live without all those modern conveniences (and inconveniences).


In some ways though, a lot of businesses haven’t moved on. They are still doing things analogue (even if the staff have all got smartphones and internet access) and aren’t being very 2015 about how they communicate.


Like I said in my last post, it is all about networks now, whether face-to-face, digital or both. In some ways traditional PR is analogue, and while at times it still has its place, if you are a business that is still analogue, maybe start thinking how we can help you become more digital.



Business young think people differently

Paul yellowBy Paul. Or young people think business differently.


Hipsters with long beards (the men at least), funky clothes and a flat white have become part of the creative scene in many UK cities.


It probably started in London, but there are loads of places around the UK where you can see this tribe in action.


Hipsters exist in Liverpool too (where I am), and they share many similarities to those elsewhere. But because they are Scouse, they’ve got to be different – some of them don’t even have beards!


These hipsters though are often at the forefront of creative industries, developing new business ideas and ways of doing them.


I went to an event recently at a law firm (Weightmans) and it was excellent – free beer, nice people and a pint after in the upmarket Vincent Bar & Restaurant on Exchange Square with my mate Matt.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 18.32.32


Two entrepreneurial lads from Independent Liverpool, who seemed obsessed by coffee, gave a presentation on their loyalty card scheme that has taken off here and is spreading to other cities too – Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham if I remember.


Basically, the idea is that you buy one of their cards, and you get money off at independent bars, restaurants, coffee shops, clothes shops and the like. Of course, everyone there bought one of these cards for a tenner. Yet to use mine, but I like my moneys worth.


Anyway, back to the point. These slightly hipster lads were in a suited law firm, but still turned up in whatever casual clothes they’d been wearing that day. They didn’t care.


But they had the room in the palm of their hands as they told how they started the company, while drunk. How it had grown through blogging, word of mouth, social media and them basically trying loads of places and getting known.


They were very witty, seemed to be making it up as they went along (but it was so structured that I think they must have put loads of work into it), and crucially they were exceptionally clear about what they were saying.


There was no powerpoint, just them talking and it was brilliant.


So the thing I learned is that these young lads think very differently about business. In some ways the same as always – they want to make money, they are thinking about opportunities.


But they are doing it on their terms. Costs are kept low. It is all about social media, meeting people, building their following and getting about.


Their connections are made face-to-face and digitally, networks are absolutely vital.


Would they have advertised their service in the local paper? No way.


Would they have sent out a press release to everyone they could think of to launch their business? Doubt it.


Are they creative, doing things like their own independent food festival in the newly trendy Baltic Triangle? Of course they are.


Can we learn something from them? I already have.