Ah, getting older. It’s making me so persnickety. As this is the golden age of email newsletters and I’m on all these great email lists, I’m getting downright fussy about what I want to encounter as I skim my messages. I’m no longer desperate for newsletters. I’m getting discriminating tastes.

Because I read my emails in Apple’s Mail client, I no longer look at subject lines anymore (read my post on How Apple OS X Lion Lets Email Marketers Jump the Subject Line if you want to know more). Now, I just skim through and look at the emails themselves. If they don’t appeal to me, I say, “Next!” and sail on to the next one.

You’re My Best Friend, Dude, But You’re Starting to Annoy Me

So now my inner grump is free to complain about all the things that annoy me, even from newsletters I otherwise like. Today’s victim of my belligerence is a very cool music tech newsletter. I honestly appreciate the free information from good people. I also honestly haven’t clicked through to this site in a while.

I Want Trusted Music Gear News, Not Paid-for Ads

Grrrrr, ads in my inbox!

Hey now, I appreciate a good ad or two (I was an ad major), but darn it if I don’t want them in that sacred temple that is my email reader. The first thing I saw was those large ads. They’re too big. They don’t mesh well with the creative bits of the newsletter. Both banner ads scream, “I’m here to dominate your inbox!”

For some reason, I feel like the whole reason for the delivery of the content was so I’d just look at these ads. Even though that’s not the case here, there are newsletters that actually exist as ad delivery vehicles. It does them a disservice to even remind me of those.

Some Newsletters Pull Off Ads without Putting Off Subscribers

True, many very successful newsletters include successful ads from major companies, but you gotta make it all work seamlessly. If not, I’m outta here. For some reason, this ad in the newsletter below doesn’t irk me, even though I’m far more likely to be interested in the ads I just complained about above.

So what was the difference? Design. Reputation. Symmetry. Negative space. Weight. Respect. In the newsletter above, I feel like the ad just fits in with the newsletter and eventually gets my attention without intruding into the news. It seems about the same weight as the non-ad content. It even looks good. I don’t feel like I got my eyes stepped on by Google. No screaming here, just an ad that says, “Hey, since you’re looking here, why not read me?”

Email Marketing Is Not Advertising

Some of you might argue that email marketing is just one big ad anyway. But there is a difference. When I opt-in to a newsletter, I’m saying, “Send me stuff. I’m expecting it.” Ads just kind of show up and interrupt what you’re doing just because someone paid for the space. Opt-in emails are promotion. Traditional ads are interruption.

An ad in a newsletter kind of blurs that line. If you’re going to put them in, you’d better do it right. Make them gel. Make them fit with your content. Make them behave and give them a light footprint. Otherwise you might catch me on a grumpy day, and there’s too many other options to put up with shenanigans.