Weeknote 18: Cold emails, hot weather and a new tech magazine

Didcot power station's cooling towers, looking beautiful in the dawn light.

Looking beautiful in the dawn light, just before demolition. I’ll miss them.

I’ve never sent a cold email, but like all small business owners I’ve received a few. There’s one in my inbox at the moment with the subject line ‘1st Page On Google Ranking’. Yeah, right.

So if ‘Yeah, right’ is the common answer to a cold email, how do you do it differently?

That was the subject of one of the talks at last night’s Oxford Digital Workers Union meetup. Faisal Anderson started by asking: ‘What’s the goal of a cold email?’

People suggested: A reply? Or even, before that, for someone to open the email? Wrong. The right answer, apparently, is ‘Deliver value’.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that our first response to this kind of question is to think about what WE want to get out of it. When you’ll actually be more successful thinking about what your recipient wants.

It goes back to the first rule of communication: it’s not about your message, it’s about your audience’s needs. That’s web content 101, but it works across the board.

Along with some technical tips for avoiding spam filters, Faisal also had another technique to share: make ’em laugh.

The other talk last night was from Hannah Butcher, on what to do when your content marketing campaign flops: how to rescue it and what to think about next time.

If you’re interested in digital marketing, you should go to this meetup. And if you’re really interested in digital marketing, you should go to Unboxed, the conference that the organisers are putting on in October.

In other news

  • Didcot power station’s three remaining cooling towers were demolished, and once again residents were out in force to watch. Many people were tweeting photos of the crowds, using the hashtags #DidcotPowerStation and #DidcotDemolition. This time round the communications were better: we didn’t have to stay up all night as we were told it would happen between 6am and 8am. And at 6am RWE (the owners) and Brown and Mason (the contractors) announced that it would happen at 7am (which it did). But neither of them thought to use a hashtag.

Tweet from Brown and Mason: "Preparations are going to plan, Didcot Cooling Towers set for demolition at 07:00hrs."

  • I’ve learnt an amazing statistic. 860 bikes an hour cross Magdalen Bridge in Oxford on a weekday. This was in one of the many interesting stories in TechTribe Oxford, a new online magazine that went live this month. The website is journalism-led with an emphasis on technology and business, and shows just how much innovative work is going on in Oxfordshire.
  • We’ve just had the third record-breaking heatwave of the summer, and – an interesting follow-up to the thoughts in my last weeknote – Carbon Brief published a thought-provoking blog post on heatwave images in the media.
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