4 Ways in which the best e-newsletters are a little like blogs.

[Note: I first wrote and published this article about 5 years ago. But it still strikes me as relevant and useful.]

blogs and e-newslettersThe best e-newsletters share many of the same qualities as a good blog. It may seem strange to be comparing an e-newsletter with a blog.

But when you think about it, it’s not so strange at all.

Just think back to the days before blogs existed.

It wasn’t so long ago.

Back then, where did you turn to find interesting, engaging, timely, and topical news and information?

The answer for many of us is that we signed up for some great newsletters. We didn’t go to Web sites for the latest information and opinions, because in those days most sites tended to be too static.

If we wanted to know what was new, important, and interesting, we turned to newsletters.

Here are four ways that good newsletters share the same qualities as blogs.

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Why every web page needs rewriting over and over again [VIDEO]

old web pages new web pagesLook back twenty years and you’ll find that marketing materials had a slightly longer shelf life.

A company could have a brochure written and reasonable expect that brochure to be as relevant in a six months as it was the day it was printed.

Companies came to the web with similar expectations.

Oops.

The thing about the web, particularly today, is that companies are no longer the sole authors of their messages. In fact, their very brands are being formed and changed not by their marketing departments, but by their customers, fans and detractors.

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Popcorn Content: The craft of writing short-form content for social media.

popcorn content for social media

Popcorn Content is a short book about writing social media content.

Read it and learn how to write short-form content that hooks, compels and engages.

Whether you are writing a tweet, an update intro for Facebook, a post headline for Google+, a comment for Pinterest, or a title for a YouTube video…you need short content that pops.

Is writing this kind of short content really a separate “craft”? Absolutely it is. The social media environment is fast-moving, and whatever you say or share not only sinks into the flow really quickly, but is also in constant competition for attention.

Whether you are trying to hook readers, or engage in conversations, your social media content has to jump off the page.

That’s what Popcorn Content is all about.

Your social media text needs to be front-loaded with the most powerful words and ideas. It needs to hook readers quickly before you lose their attention. It needs to be intriguing and immediate, so readers click through to read more. It has to be worth sharing, and easy to share.

In short, it’s a whole different way of writing.

So what’s with the “popcorn” thing?

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The power of the human touch in web copy and content.

the human touchSome copywriters know that adding a human touch to their copy can help their readers relate to the product or service they are trying to sell.

Some consultants and coaches insert elements from their personal lives in their business writing, because it helps prospective clients get to know them as real people.

Some hard-core business-to-business writers know that interviews and case studies can help humanize the “corporation”.

But only some.

Most of the time, when I read content online, in the form or articles or posts, that human touch is missing.

Why? My guess is there are a couple of reasons.

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The fewer the choices you offer, the more you will sell.

paradox of choice in supermarketWe like choices.

In fact, one of the cornerstones of a democracy is our right and our freedom to make choices. We vote for the leaders we want. We choose where to live. We choose the church we go to. Or we choose not to go to church at all.

We also like all the choices we have as consumers.

We like to be able to go to a 16-screen movie theatre, so we can choose the movie we want to see. We like to have hundreds of TV channels to choose form, instead of just three or four.

As marketers and copywriters, we could be forgiven for believing that our prospects and customers will respond positively if we offer them as many choices as possible.

And up to a certain point, people do like choices when they decide to buy something.

But all is not as it seems. More choice doesn’t actually lead to increased sales. In fact, we can easily become confused and even irritated when faced with too many choices.

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The difference between an authentic voice and a paid-for voice.

authentic voice
Photo courtesy: CBC

Last week, during the fight against SOPA, I was listening to a radio show on CBC, hosted by Mike Finnerty.

He had two guests – Rob Beschizza, Managing Editor of BoingBoing, which went dark to protest SOPA, and Steve Tepp, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of the Global Intellectual Property Center.

(Yes, this post is about copywriting. Keep reading…)

Finnerty reached them both by phone and gave them more or less equal time to present their points of view.

Both Beschizza and Tepp are smart guys, and both shared very different views on the value of SOPA. Beschizza said it was bad legislation that would result in a lot of unintended consequences for thousands of websites. Tepp said it was excellent legislation that would put a stop to piracy by “foreign criminals”.

Who won the debate?

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