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In the age of inbound marketing, blind email blasts are not only ineffective, but can increasingly irritate your prospects and customers to the point of doing irreparable damage to your brand or reputation.

The reason for that is simple: entered into with an old school mindset, email blasts are essentially interruptive marketing in a slightly modern format. You wouldn’t pay someone to walk around handing out thousands of flyers to people at random, but it’s still normal to purchase a list of 50,000 contacts and send out an email blast, hoping that you’ll be able to pique the interest of a few people in the process.

This is misguided for so many reasons. First, you are paying for each and every one of those email addresses you acquire—either by paying someone to gather them for you or using your own time to research and compile a list. A return on investment of a non-targeted email blast is going to be very low and thus, all you’ve done is waste your time and money. You’ve gotten two leads, wasted 49,998 paid email addresses that are of no worth to you, and potentially pissed off hundreds if not thousands of people in the process.

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But if you can do the segmenting discussed earlier or, better yet, get people to opt in to your email newsletter, that’s where the real value lies. Email newsletters have been having a bit of a renaissance of late, especially in the media world. Again, this may seem counterintuitive: “I thought everyone wanted less email, not more,” you might think. But in the age of so much content and noise online, having the information you really want to read sent straight to you can be convenient, even intimate in some sense. To go back to Seth Godin’s “One subscriber is worth 1000 surfers" idea, having someone subscribe to your newsletter is a huge compliment, as it means they want to hear from you. In addition, email newsletter services like MailChimp and TinyLetter have provided simple and user-friendly interfaces for people to manage and update their mailing lists as well as compose newsletters themselves, making them all the more attractive.

The late media critic David Carr, who before he died last year had a widely-read column in The New York Times covering media trends, astutely wrote in 2014:

“Like most people, I’m careful about handing my email address to anyone. But because they sit in my inbox and can be opened (or ignored) at a time of my choosing, I’ve found newsletters keep me in the know about specific topics — which in my case includes media comings and goings.”

The invitation is the reason that a newsletter (that your followers opt into) is completely different than one you blast out without consideration of who is receiving it. And if you can follow the example of prominent journalists and thought leaders who write popular newsletters by providing value—in the form of interesting information, trend pieces, unique insight, and thought provoking reading lists that are relevant to your industry—rather than strictly self promotion, you’re very likely to garner more followers in the process. The goal is to get people opening your newsletter not because they want to be sold to, but because you are viewed as a relevant voice in the industry. If you sell something alongside that, you’ll find you will have a lot more success.

Tip #28: Forget the blind email blast and embrace the opt-in newsletter—but be sure to provide value to your subscribers.  

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