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If the idea that creating a good newsletter may be more important than creating a good blog sounds ridiculous, keep in mind that email newsletters have actually been experiencing a revival in recent years. Many people start their day staring at something on their smartphones, whether they’re scrolling through Facebook, catching up on the news, or clearing out their inboxes.
Produce compelling content for your subscribers, and your newsletter could become as much a part of their morning routines as their first cups of coffee.
Image via Flickr by freeimage4life
Blogs and newsletters share many similarities, since both are designed to share helpful content with your target audience. However, you should understand how these two formats differ.
The biggest difference, of course, is location. Blogs will be stationary, either with their own domain or as a section of your regular website. If you manage your blog well and incorporate the right keywords and techniques for search engine optimization (SEO), your posts should show up in search results. In fact, search is probably how many readers will find your blog. You may also bring people to your blog by sharing your articles on social media or having influencers link to your posts.
While readers will find your blog posts largely by accident or through your own promotional efforts, newsletters go directly to the inboxes of people who have subscribed to them. Instead of reading your content on a dedicated website, newsletter subscribers will view it in their email inbox. As a result, many of your readers will be scrolling through your newsletter on a smartphone or tablet.
You’ll also find a difference between how you write blogs versus newsletters, too. For example, with a blog post, you need to take into consideration keywords and SEO guidelines that are not as critical for a newsletter given its built-in audience and distribution method. You may also find that although blog headlines and newsletter subject lines serve roughly the same purpose, best practices for writing heading and subject lines differ slightly between the two.
With the right amount of time and effort, you can manage creating a good blog as well as creating a good newsletter. In fact, the two can complement each other well. For example, you can add a simple sign-up page or widget on your blog so that visitors can easily subscribe to your newsletter. In your newsletter, you can include snippets and links to your most recent blog posts. With proper planning, you can use your newsletter to bring people to your blog and use your blog to grow your subscriber list.
However, if limited time or resources force you to choose between the two, the newsletter should win. Here’s why:
Marketing logistics. With a blog post, you have to not only write the content but also figure out how to reach your intended audience. An email newsletter solves this problem; the people who subscribe are already interested in your content, and you know exactly how to reach them.
Regular interaction. Blog posts may help people find your website when they search for specific terms, but that interaction is likely to be a one-and-done method. Getting return visitors can be notoriously difficult. Sending a weekly newsletter is a good way to interact with your audience more regularly.
Information gathering. As an added bonus, regular interaction will help you gather more information about your audience. Whether you use straightforward A/B testing or try out different tactics from week to week, you can get a clearer picture of what your readers like, dislike, and respond to. You can use these insights to better tailor your products, content, and promotions to their tastes.
Relationship building. A regular newsletter also helps you build a stronger relationship with your audience. Time and time again, psychologists and marketing experts have reported that people buy feelings, not things. A good newsletter will leave a lasting impression on your readers, subtly influencing them to associate your brand with positive feelings.
Several activities go into creating a good newsletter. Before hitting “send,” make sure your newsletter checks the following boxes:
Defined audience. Rather than writing a generic newsletter, get to know your audience. If you already have a list of subscribers, try to figure out what sparked their interests in your newsletter. What are they looking for, and what can you give them? If you’re starting a newsletter from scratch, figure out the individuals you want to target. Having a clearly defined audience in mind will help you produce content that your readers will value. A narrow, dedicated audience is better than a massive list of subscribers who rarely open your newsletters.
Casual tone. Make sure your newsletter strikes a casual tone. You want your newsletter to have neither the stiff formality of a thesis paper nor the careless informality of a hurried text message. Find a tone that resonates with your audience and reflects your brand image.
Curated content. Your newsletter can comprise original content, or it can repurpose content from your website, blog, or social media pages. You can also curate articles and resources from external sites and sources. Make sure that your content is intentional — not haphazard, irrelevant, or disjointed.
Relevant CTA. Your newsletter should have a call to action that encourages readers to take the next step. This next step could be a link to register for an event, purchase a product, or sign up for a free trial. Whatever you choose, your CTA should make sense in the context of your newsletter. It should be relevant to your audience and flow naturally from the content of your newsletter.
Time, thought, and effort. Every piece of your newsletter should be designed to appeal to your specific audience, a process which takes much time, thought, and effort. You can’t throw something together at the last minute and expect it to do much good. You have to be willing to invest in your newsletter if you want it to succeed.
Depending on your resources and goals, creating a good newsletter can be more effective than a blog — but only if you’re willing to work at it. Follow the tips above to craft a newsletter your subscribers will look forward to reading each week.