They spend weeks or even months crafting news items, bundle them together into a single email and then send them out to a subscriber list - sometimes without even using a system to measure the response rate or manage the bounces, making it impossible to prove a return on their investment.
I've long been a fan of blogs over email newsletters, here's some of the reasons why:
- You only have to publish one story in a blog at a time
Email newsletters tend to be an collection of stories all published at once. With a blog, each post is a new 'story' so you can focus on one at a time rather than having to work on three, five, eight or ten different stories all at once.
- You can publish blog posts at your own pace
Often with email newsletters there's a 'need' to publish regularly - every week, month or quarter. That often means uncovering some kind of 'new' content on a topic, even if there's no new information.
With a blog you can spread out your posts over time, giving the impression of more regular updates and building your audience's engagement habits without necessarily writing any more content.
In other words, four blog posts posted over four weeks is more effective than posting a newsletter once a month with four stories.
- Blogs boosts your search ratings
It is very valuable to have results high in search engines and blogs, unlike email newsletters, get listed. In fact as blog information changes regularly (as often as you post), this means that search engines often rate blogs higher than static websites which rarely change. That's an enormous boost to peoples' ability to find and make use of your information.
- Blog posts can be available forever
Sure you can keep an online archive of your email newsletters, however a blog is much easier to search and reference for people who wish to read back in time as well as forward.
- An email newsletter is a soliloquay, a blog is a dialogue
Email newsletters are almost always one-way outwards communications tools. Blogs, on the other hand, are multi-way. Sure you can have a blog without comments - just like an email newsletter - however you can also support active public discussions. That provides more flexibility and options for how, why and when you communicate and allows blogs to support a wide range of inbound and two-way engagement strategies.
- You can leverage your blog's reach through syndication and social media
With blogs you can provide an RSS feed that can be used by blog aggregators, news sites and other feed reading mechanisms to greatly amplify your reach. You can also leverage social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to increase your footprint even further.
On the other hand email newsletters are largely bound by the limits of their subscriber lists. They may be re-emailed by a few recipients, however cannot tap into broader syndication or social media channels to amplify their reach.
- Blog post approvals don't have to tie you in knots
The classic reason email newsletters are late is that they are waiting on lots of approvers - often different people for each news item. This complex process can mean that even if nine of your news stories are approved, you're left waiting three weeks for approval on the tenth before you can email. By then the email is a month late and your audience has lost interest and trust in your ability to deliver to deadline. With blogs, if you have nine posts approved and one still in approvals that gives you nine posts you can publish over the next three weeks while waiting for the tenth. That means you can maintain regular activity and keep your customers informed and engaged without any loss of reputation.
- People can subscribe to your blog
Just like with email newsletters, with the right blog tools people are able to subscribe to your blog for updates by email or by RSS. This is more of an equaliser than an advantage, however it does mean that blogs, with their other advantages, aren't at a disadvantage in this area.
- A blog isn't restricted to being a blog
Email newsletters are good at being email newsletters, providing synopses and links to news stories, but aren't usually able to provide other functionality. A blog isn't necessarily only a blog, it's a highly interactive website. You can use a blog to also deliver static information, multimedia presentations, social media tools, web services and anything else you'd provide on a 'normal' website.
- Your blog can be an email newsletter too!
With the right blog tool, or with a small amount of work, you're able to bundle up your blog posts for the last week or month and send them out as an email newsletter as well. This basically allows you to have the best of both worlds - the targeted alerts of an email newsletter backed up by the flexibility, search ranking and longevity of a blog.
Now I'm not saying that email newsletters don't have their place. They are very effective at 'push' communications. When you're confronted by a newsletter every month in your inbox you're quite likely to read it.
However why limit yourself to just that email newsletter when you could build a blog and use an email newsletter as one of your push tools?
The blog gives you the advantages of multi-way communication, greater leverage and amplification, more flexibility in when and how you publish content and the content becomes much easier to find.
Build a blog and use your newsletter to drive traffic to it. That way you'll get the best of both worlds, targeting and flexibility.