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By Bob McElwain
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005

Think back to the last really great novel or mystery yarn you read. Back to one that really impressed you. One that so grabbed your attention, you are looking forward to the next book by the same author. If you don't read much, think of a film that jolted you.

How Much Impact Can A Great Story Have?

While such experiences matter a great deal to those who enjoy stories, they don't matter much in the longer scheme of things.

How often do you think of that terrific book or film? The characters in it? A happening reported within it?

For most, the answer is, "Not often." And then only fleetingly. You may think of it briefly in relationship to something you encounter today. Something you read or hear. A thought or two may come to you while having your morning coffee. But it does not happen often. Once a week? Twice? Maybe only once a month?

Why? Because you have a life to live and are busy getting it done. That book or film, no matter how great, is but one part of it. And it has no meaning at all when faced with serious challenges, as when your job performance is in question.

What Impact Do You Have On Your Subscribers?

The short answer is, "Not much." Can you expect to have the impact of a great novel or film on the readers of your newsletter or website? Not likely.

If this is so, how often do you think your readers will think of you? Or your site? The answer here is easy: Not often, and only fleetingly.

So Why Bother Doing All That Work?

I get flyers from a True Value hardware store in town. I never look at them, but in a glance I remember Larry, the owner, and Bill, his second in command, who have been so helpful to me over the years, and stand ready to assist me again.

That's the most you can hope from your newsletter. That folks will remember you and your site. And that you remain willing to help.

How Many Subscribers Read Your Newsletter?

Not nearly as many as some webmasters believe. Here's my read on this. There's no data I'm aware of to back me up. It's all just guesstimating. Based upon experience, that's so. But certainly not to be taken as fact.

Somthing over half your subscribers delete your newsletter in every mailing without even opening it.

You Can't Be Serious?

You bet I am. I'm also being realistic. As stated, people have a life to live. "STAT News" has little to do with this fundamental task. If you believe your ezine is different in this regard, that subscribers cling to every word in every issue, you're dead wrong.

And There's More Bad News

Of those who do open my ezine, maybe half scan quickly to the bottom, find nothing of interest, then trash it. Of the rest, only a few will read from beginning to end. Some, but not many, may read an article, or part of one, before trashing it.

What A Dreary Picture

Maybe. But I don't see it this way. It's real. The way it is. People have lives to live. And my ezine doesn't matter much in making that happen.

Face it. People don't read all of a newspaper they buy. Books are often laid aside only half finished. And the TV is often shut down in the middle of a worthwhile program, when something that matters more demands attention. Do you really think your ezine is exempt from such decisions? Get real.

Putting It Into Perspective.

I'm content that those who delete "STAT News" without opening it, at least have positive thoughts about me or my site. At least sufficiently positive they choose to remain subscribers. They'll turn back to reading the newsletter as time permits, provided they need the information in it. And they'll return to my site if they find they need the products and services available.

The same holds for those who quickly scan for something of interest. Or pause to read part of an article. They'll come back to reading when they need to. Meanwhile, I've demonstrated good free information is available. And again, reminded them of products and services I offer.

Personally, I'm delighted to continue to be invited by my subscribers to visit each week. And I'm excited when they find something helpful to them. Further I look forward to a time when I can help more specifically, with a product or service.

It has never occurred to me to ask for more. If you do so, your expectations are unrealistically high.

About the Author
Bob McElwain, author of "Your Path To Success" and "Secrets To A Really Successful Website." For info, see
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