I Don’t Read Your Newsletters

Earlier this week I got the feedback people wrote about the panel I was on at Affiliate Summit West 2011 about building the affiliate & affiliate manager relationship. For the most part we had some pretty good feedback and I think it went fairly well. However there was one comment that I’ve been thinking about from someone who either wasn’t paying attention to something I said, or I didn’t explain myself well enough.

I was talking about how affiliate managers need to understand their affiliates and know that each one is different. As affiliates not all of us like the same things or work in the same way, so affiliate managers need to understand what motivates each of their main affiliates, how they prefer to be contacted, etc.

I said something that most affiliate managers and merchants probably don’t like to hear. Honestly, I delete 95% of affiliate program newsletters without reading them. You have to understand that affiliates are probably not just affiliates of your program and we get bombarded with emails all day long.

So guess what, I don’t really care if you got a shiny new banner, or what you have to say in your non personal newsletter.

This was about the part of the talk where the person wrote in the comments “how are we supposed to build a relationship from the start if you delete emails” and gave our panel a low score.

That wasn’t the end of what I said though.

First of all, that is my own personal preference, which is the point I was trying to make. I’m sure many other affiliates devour each and every newsletter you send out like it’s the next Twilight novel.

For me, yes, I do delete 95% of merchant newsletters, BUT…. I read 100% of emails that are written directly to me from my affiliate managers. My point is that to build a relationship you have to give a personal touch to your affiliates.

Instead of blasting all your affiliates with the same message, give a personalized message to some of your top affiliates such as this:

“Hey Logan, I just wanted to let you know about a sale we are having that would work great on MySite.com. I created a special coupon just for you with the code LOGAN15. Check out the landing page and let me know if you have any suggestions to improve it since I know that’s always a concern of yours. By the way, hows Brynna(my daughters name) doing? I saw her picture on Facebook and she is growing fast. Take care and contact me on Slack or Skype with any questions.”

Yes, it takes time to do this, but I guarantee you will get more out of your top affiliates if you do this. Email is a great way to build relationships, just make sure to keep it personal. Otherwise, your newsletters are all about you and not your affiliates. (Check out this short video from the DIYThemes blog which is what you sound like).

Also, I’m not saying to stop sending out newsletters. People still read them and they are relevant if you send good information that will help your affiliates. Like I said 95% I delete, but the 5% I read because I know there is going to be valuable information (not just talking about new banners or sales, but real actual information on demographics and generating traffic).

What’s your thoughts? Are newsletters still valuable as an affiliate?

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15 Responses

    1. Excellent question. The 5% that I do read are from affiliate managers that I’ve built a solid relationship with in the past and I know that they always include valuable information in their newsletters. Also, they are usually the ones that aren’t emailing out newsletters once or twice a week, but put together 1 REALLY good newsletter about once a month. They also care about my business and don’t just push their program, but provide great business information as well.

      1. Equally valuable answer! 🙂

        So, the factors that come into play and influence your decisions are (1) relationship, (2) frequency, and (3) quality (or even previous history of quality newsletters). Good ones.

        But do new affiliate managers even have a chance? If so, how can they catch your attention?

        1. They sure do. It’s all about relationship building. Connect with me personally via Twitter, LinkedIn, or even better, at a conference. If I meet someone in person it takes the relationship to the next level. They get to know me AND I get to know them so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Personal emails are always great to.

  1. Heya Logan!

    Was curious if it’s the same percentage of newsletters you read in other walks of life, like from retailers, hobby websites, etc.

    Is it that AM newsletters are just generally bad and poorly thought out? Or do you have a 95/5 rule elsewhere as well?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      I’m not sure that it’s necessarily a rule (the 95/5), it’s just my estimation of where I’m at now. Overall, I think I’m like that for most email news no matter if it’s from retailers or affiliate managers.

      However the ones I read are the ones I have an existing relationship built up. To be honest I probably get over 100 newsletters a day from different companies, and I have to weed them out or I’d never get work done.

      So the ones I do read need to stand out. I’ve received a FEW (I think 2-3) affiliate newsletters in the mail (on real paper) and I’ve read through all of those since no one else is doing that. A great way to stand out.

  2. I agree with you 100%. We said basically the same thing in our ASW11 panel and got some pretty nasty feedback like “You admit that you don’t read our emails but you expect us read emails from you.” I don’t know that a lot of affiliate managers understand the sheer amount of email that we get in a day. If I don’t get an email just about every minute, I refresh my browser because I suspect that my gmail must be hung up.

    I skim the newsletters. I have a photographic memory so I pretty much remember what your newsletter looked like last time. If it looks the exact same with just some different links, I either forward it to my coupon person or delete it or automatically archive it. But I don’t read it.

    Now if you send me a personal email about something you would like us to work on together or a link of yours on my site that is outdated, I will likely drop everything and respond to you almost immediately.

    I know it sounds snotty to say that I don’t read emails, and I wish that I had enough manpower (or woman-power) in my company to read them all because I know that a lot of OPMs and affiliate managers spend a good amount of time on them. But I have to prioritize. And standard newsletters just usually don’t make the cut.

  3. Hey Logan – great post. We all get way too many emails every day – especially mass newsletters. If we took the time to read every single one of them we wouldn’t get much work done. I have most of those kinds of newsletters go to one folder in my inbox. Then I skim it about once a day, pick out any messages that seem like they might be useful and delete the rest. Even then, I may not have time to do more than just do a quick read of the ones I saved.

    When it comes to emails from affiliate managers, personalization is the key. You are much more likely to check out a personal email with info or recommendations that are based on your business. When you know your affiliate manager is taking the time to think about your needs and then make suggestions specific to you, you are much more likely to open those emails. Plus, it is those kinds of emails that help build a relationship between a publisher and an affiliate manager.

    1. You are talking about people who skim Email newsletters from merchants, but it appears there are also some people skimming the post content 😛

      BTW, you just gave me an idea, I’m going to build a counter that will go +1 each time I receive an email newsletter from a network.. And I’ll send the url to my AM so they know what we are going through on the affiliate side of things…

  4. Great post. It reminds me of a really poorly written post I did when I was venting a while back about Merchant’s not including their name in the subject line, the network they are on and copy and paste create with ids in them in the actual email. Make it easy for the Affiliates and quick and they may give you a better response rate. Not that hard to do lol. Great post!

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