On Business: Communication

By | Monday, March 30, 2015 2 comments
All the spam!
These days, there are any number of ways a comic creator can communicate with her/his audience beyond the work itself. You don't need me to list everything out here, but the one that surprises me these days is email.

There was a time, maybe five or ten years ago, when my email inbox was flooded with messages all the time. I spent a decent amount of time setting up filters to route messages into specifics folders if they were things I could deal with later, or highlight items I had to be sure not to miss. And some domains had to get blacklisted and others whitelisted. And I would still find a barrage of messages waiting every time I sat down in front of the computer.
Foxtrot by Bill Amend

That's not really the case any more. In the course of an entire day, my inbox will get maybe a couple dozen messages. Because who uses email any more? There's greater control and greater reach if you utilize social media. What does email offer that other formats can't?

About the only thing I can think of is personalization. If your email list includes some additional information, like first name, you can send an individualized greeting to every member on your list. "Hi, Sean! I'm so glad you signed up for our newsletter..." I expect, though, most users recognize that such personalization is kind of an artificial intimacy and doesn't really reflect the email author actually knowing your name and hand-crafting a message just for you.

But if you're able to include something more specific to the recipient's taste, that might still be beneficial. If you had, for example, multiple categories of information that a user could select in a set of preferences somewhere, that might be useful. "Only send me art updates, but nothing about which conventions you're attending." Or if you had some more complex back-end system set up where every user would need an individualized link to some kind of portal or something.

Beyond that, I'm wondering what the benefit of maintaining an email list is today in 2015. Can't everything else be done better/more efficiently in other channels? Do people who still maintain mailing lists just do so as a holdover from pre-social media days, or is there something I'm missing?
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Matt K said...

Beats me, though people still do e-mail newsletters, and not just the old. Matthew Yglesias just started one in the past several weeks.

I could make some rough guesses as to what it might offer, but it certainly isn't obvious, now that you bring it up.

Ben Towle said...

The death of email is greatly exaggerated IMHO. Unlike social media a sent email waits around until some action is taken by the recipient. If I *really* want to keep up with a person I'll sign up for an email list and/or subscribe to their blog via RSS.

FWIW, I have an email list that I started less than a year ago. Unlike Twitter, G+ etc. I know what percentage of the recipients actually opened the email and what percentage of those clicked through to anything I linked to.