… read an article about email newsletters.

It said that I needed a “strong open rate.”

That’s only sort of true.

Open rate is a calculation: Emails opened divided by emails sent.

Which means that if you want to, for example, drastically raise your open rate, just delete anyone who hasn’t opened your newsletter in the past six months.

If you cut the denominator down, the open rate goes up, even if no additional people are reading it.

Of course, what we really care about are readers, not rates. (Actually, what we really care about are engaged readers, but that’s a topic for another day).

So try this: Start paying attention to the raw number of opens you’re getting each time you publish.

At least then you’re focused on the number of people who are taking in your message, not a stat which, in and of itself, doesn’t really mean anything.


… have been talking with the cable company.


And yesterday.

And last week.

The TiVo stopped talking to the box with the cable card and the Roku app thinks left is right but only when it rains on a night with a full moon…

You know the drill.

Lots of technology and lots of people involved, none of whom are individually able to solve the overall problem.

It’s not because they are not trying. And it’s not because they are not smart.

It’s just that the “machine” they have built is so big and so complicated that it’s really really hard to provide an experience that is even adequate, let alone great.

That’s why I love being a solo. 

In a world of byzantine bureaucratic behemoths, all we have to do to delight our clients is respond quickly to emails, fix problems on the first try, and never, ever ask anyone to please listen closely, as our menu options have changed.


… had a conversation about newsletters.


It was with a consultant, somebody who is thinking of launching one.

He said he planned to, “Send 6 or 8 a year.”

I made two suggestions:

1. Send more frequently.

With all the noise out there today, you need to be in front of people at least monthly to break through.

2. Make a real commitment.

There’s a big difference between saying, “I plan to go to the gym a couple of times a week,” and, “I will go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 AM.”

One is a hope. The other is an actual plan.

It’s the same with a newsletter. If you don’t commit to a specific schedule (first Tuesday, third Friday, whatever), you’ll push it out of the way as soon as something more urgent comes up.

If you’re going to launch a newsletter, commit to doing it monthly for one year. Then feel free to assess the value!


… sent an email to a bookkeeper.


He was referred by a friend. She told me he works alone, which is what I’m looking for.

I received an immediate response!

Unfortunately, it was an automated email.

It was six paragraphs and 414 words long.

It came with a required, 32-question survey. (Excellent, I love homework!)

Needless to say, I’m moving on.

Big companies need to triage and filter inbound requests. The volume of these requires it.

It’s understandable, but bureaucracy is not a benefit to prospects; it’s an obstacle.

Try not to build one unless absolutely necessary.


… received an email from my local library.


It was letting me know that the Kindle book I had reserved was ready.

The “From” line was: C/W MARS

The “Subject” line was: C/W MARS digital hold automatically borrowed

I nearly deleted it, thinking it was spam.

If you work in the library, of course, words like “C/W MARS” and “digital hold” make perfect sense. You use them every day.

If you don’t, however, and you’re just a book-borrowing private citizen quickly scanning emails to see what can be ignored, they don’t.

Are you clear who your audience is before you begin writing?