What has two arms, two legs, walks upright and wants an iPod? Homo erectus of course. But all humans are not the same. There is, thankfully, sexual dimorphism which makes men and women different despite the fact that in most aspects they are identical.

Whilst it is generally accepted that there is no real difference between male and female drivers’ abilities, the feminist rejoicing was probably curtailed by the impressively humourless report in New Scientist of research showing no evidence of women having a superior ability to multi-task. Yet despite these triumphs for equality of the sexes, it would appear that there will always have to be a women’s competition at Wimbledon and that for men, confinement will be limited to when their belt is too tight.

In answer to the rhetorical question as to what correspondence can you send via the internet, the answer ‘emails’ is not really sufficient. There is, thankfully, a range of vehicles in which information can be transferred. The methods might look similar but there are fundamental differences.

We have to accept that some people will never subscribe to email marketing. Reasons vary but the main cause seems to be previous bad experiences. But we should not give up on these potential customers. They could be captured in other ways.

Email newsletters, sometimes called e-newsletters / ezines / emagazines, but not by me, have certain advantages over purely marketing emails. And, of course, certain disadvantages as well.

The main differences between a direct email marketing campaign and an email newsletter is that the latter is sent periodically and its main content is normally information rather than a sales pitch. The usefulness of an email newsletter comes from the fact that it is read in the same way as a printed magazine, and in the same way, the advertising is more subtle than marketing emails. Or, to put it another way, you are offering the recipients something for almost nothing.

The opening rate for email newsletters is higher than for other forms of email but many, especially B2B, are left unopened on the off-chance of time becoming available later. The trick is to make your email newsletter a must read. When I was previously newly promoted to a manager, I tried to get my staff to read the weekly printed newsletter by adding a bit of gossip and rumour. My boss did not seem receptive to the mitigation plea that my staff were the best informed in the building and that, in the long term, Alan’s secretary will probably be glad she read about his fiancé.

Humour can work but it palls after a while and if there is nothing of substance opening rates will fall and eventually the unsubscribe button will be red hot. The thing is that you must give them something they will value, a free gift, if you will, of information. What this could be will vary depending on what you are selling. Let us take a hypothetical instance.

Assume you have a company which provides the software and support for, for instance, directing email marketing. Your product is of particularly high quality and is good vale, but there are a number of competitors out there and you are looking for some kind of format to show off your product. You decide an email newsletter, amongst other advertising methods, is a good idea. You must ask yourself, therefore, what your customers might look for.

How about a grounding in direct email marketing with the occasional foray into alternative methods?

The email newsletter provides many advantages: you are seen as helpful to your customers because, of course, you are. You hope that by supporting them in this way you will prove that you value them. Your logo will become familiar and you can always apprise them of new products and services that have just come onto your books. It should not, of course, appear like a direct email marketing campaign but there is nothing to stop you hitching a ride.

Good idea or what?