We wrote a newsletter and it changed the world.

Newsletters, you get them, I get them, we all get them, and while a few are absolutely awesome, shout to the CB Insights team, Product Hunt, and InVision, the majority of newsletters sadly remind you of some long forgotten product you used once at your aunt Judy’s when you didn’t want to be there anyways.

To us here at SWARM / Ludlow much of this email detritus exists because marketers, instead of focusing on providing real value to their users, focus first on communicating news about themselves while — trying to push services or products into their customers’ inboxes. In a way this is basically the equivalent to screaming “BUY MY CRAP!” An effective tactic to no one, yet a quizzically popular one.

Yet, this makes sense (to a degree). Email marketing is an absolutely stupendous way to get people to care about your product. It’s a direct line to your customer. The problem is value, or the perception and presentation there of it.

For example, at SWARM we would receive an absolute f***-ton of emails from dev shops, and other digital agencies. They read (copied verbatim, sans names):

“Dear Swarmnyc,
I am Bob and I head up Business Development Manager with Non-memorable Company Name.
Non-memorable Company is an application development company with experience measured by dozens of successfully completed projects. We develop mobile and web apps on all of the most popular platforms including PHP , Android and iOS, and we are passionate about turning your ideas into real world-changing apps.
From Website development, e-Commerce Solution to mobile development, layout and designing, Non-memorable Company delivers high quality, high performing mobile experiences that will delight and amaze you.
Blow are our live portfolio…”

Now before I continue, I would like to wholly apologize for subjugating you to that, but this is hands down the “every email”.

Bobbo here doesn’t distinguish his company from any other, he provides me with no value other than being another in an endless procession of people who send me “OMG kill me now e-mails” that clog up my inbox.

So do I, or will I respond to Bob? The answer — if you’re still wondering dear reader — is a resounding no.

So what would make me respond? What could potentially drive me to open my inbox, go hmm… this is awesome, click through, and maybe tell my colleague about Non-memorable Company. The answer is simple, value, or at least an immediate emotion that has me think there may be some at the end of this business development rainbow.

Let’s quickly explore how this would look if ol’ Bobbo here looked at providing me, the recipient, with value.

“Hey SWARM,
The agency game is changing. Every day there are more dev shops popping up in your local market and prices are racing to the bottom. Differentiation can be tough, and if you’re ready we’re here to help.
In case you haven’t thought about offshoring, here’s a case study from Company Everyone Knows, about how they used us to do Something Important and saved Some Number That’s Exciting.
Here are a few articles that show how industry trends are shifting and lower level development services are moving offshore.
Speak soon,
Bob

Holy shit, Bob over here went ahead and provided me with a sales email that check this, 1) Speaks to an issue with my industry — this grabs my attention, 2) Provided me with a social proof — validating that there’s some form of substance to his service, and 3) Added 3rd party validation — giving me material to read and think about.

All this provides me with value.

Now, while I probably wouldn’t action this sales email, I would go, hmmm… Bob here knows what he’s talking about. It might be ok, to let Bob mail me from time to time, and I’d probably like to know what insight Bob has in the future.

And that’s the secret sauce behind every good newsletter — value. Being able to communicate something worthwhile to your readers.

When we started writing newsletters we needed them to be valuable, but unlike the good folks at CB Insights, we didn’t have a ton of research data, or a dedicated person(s) to writing content, we had to wing it, while keeping true to ourselves and our brand — in short, it had to be excellent.

Coming up with excellent newsletters in minutes.

The concept we came up with was putting together a weekly tech recap of the most interesting news in our industry, a common practice, and done exquisitely by the folks over at Curbed.

Ludlow in action.

The great thing about “recap” types of newsletters is that they provide the audience with value. The articles, if relevant, will be attention grabbing to your audience, and in turn whey will keep your company or service top of mind in your readers’ minds, fostering that ever so important — word of mouth referral.

And as for excuses that newsletters take too damn long to put together, well, there’s Ludlow, which has brought the amount of time it takes us to write newsletters down to about 15–20 minutes, from 8+ hours. As my friend Jason Saltzman would say, that’s straight baller.

Please hit the♡ if you enjoyed this article. This will tell me to write more like it. And if you’re into AI curated design / tech / entrepreneurship news weekly. Sign up to SWARM’s Newsletter.

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