Why Overwhelming Your Customers with Content Doesn’t Work
I recently made some changes to my curated newsletter The Full Monty. I was putting so much time and energy into creating what, over time, became a monstrosity of a newsletter.
My open rates and CTR were dropping, and after surveying my audience, I discovered why (well, I confirmed what I suspected — but data helps): I was giving them too much.
In my effort to make things easier for my audience, I was overburdening them with too many choices.
In his book How We Decide (Amazon Affiliate link), author Jonah Lehrer noted: “Emotion and motivation share the same Latin root, movere, which means to move. The world is full of things and it is our feelings that help us choose among them.”
It’s our job as marketers to connect with the emotions of consumers.
They couldn’t care less about a list of features; they want to be made to feel something. Make their heart race, make them excited to be first to know, make them proud to be featured in your content — whatever it is, appeal to their emotional selves, not their rational selves.
Let’s use consumer packaged goods as an example. We’ve gotten so far away from where we were just a generation ago that emotional appeal is nearly impossible. Brand extensions haven’t necessarily extended our ability to feel, though.
How many kinds of orange juice are there? Remember when it was Tropicana or Minute Maid, and that was it? Forget about no pulp / some pulp / all pulp / country style / calcium added / low acid / low sugar.
Or toothpaste. Back in the day it was Crest, AIM, Colgate or Aquafresh, and you had one or two flavors to choose from in each brand. Now there are about 50 different iterations.
Don’t even get me started on Oreos or yogurt.
The point is, in marketers’ rush to serve absolutely every niche audience and psychographic, they’re making it harder for people to choose. Yes, there are more choices — but that’s the issue: there are more choices. More choices than ever.
People told me my newsletter was valuable, and they encouraged me to keep going. But I knew something had to change in order to make it work for them and for me.
The Full Monty — which has always had “Virtually Everything” as its subhead — now has fewer sections and fewer links. But these are the sections that readers want and the kinds of stories that matter to them. As a result, I’ve seen a doubling of the open rate and nearly 3X the click-through rate.
Maybe there’s something to this.
The simpler times were more emotionally fulfilling. And when we all get overwhelmed — even when we’re just trying to find a container of plain yogurt — the clutter is just too much.
It’s a times like this that I need to remind myself: Keep it simple, stupid.