Making Sense of Content Marketing via Email Newsletters and Email Blasts

For decades, companies and other organizations produced print-based newsletters as one of the best ways to keep in touch with clients and stakeholders.  With the rise of email, many responsible for getting the word out developed email newsletters using the same format as their print publications, but in electronic form.  Copying a format when a new medium comes along is normal. In the early days of television, much of the content was just repurposed radio programs.  But, just as television developed its own way of presenting content, email messaging has evolved beyond the traditional newsletter format. In fact, the old way is dead, and if you have an email newsletter that looks like a lot like an old print newsletter, it is time to pull the plug and put your publication out of its misery. Fortunately, there is a simple, more effective alternative.

The Problems with the Traditional Newsletter Format

1. Newsletters are Too Long

As you likely know from your own experience, we are inundated with way more news, entertainment and advertising today then we were in the days when newsletters coming in the mail were the norm. Most of us get more content than we can consume just from email and social media.  So, the last the majority of us want are long emails or publications to read. The traditional newsletter with its multiple pages and even more stories is much too long.  Few us read them.

2. Newsletters are Too Complicated

A document with an array of stories is complicated to produce and even complicated to read.  Writing content, doing multi-column layout and adding images is lot of work. For your audience, you have to either send them an attachment, a link or a very long message. With more people every day consuming content on mobile devices, this is a hassle.

3. Newsletters are Too Infrequent

One of the first things you learn in advertising is that repetition is very important.  The same holds true with other forms of promotional communications. Given the effort and cost of producing them, newsletters have traditionally been monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly publications. In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, this is not frequent enough.

4. Newsletters are Not Focussed Enough

Typically, when you communicate with your audience, you want to give them a single, clear call-to-action. Most readers, will not act on your content, but your goal is to get as many to act as possible. Newsletters, with their multiple stories and messages, make delivering a single call-to-action difficult. Multiple messages reduce these conversion rates.

5. Newsletters are Not Shareable Enough

A big part of content marketing is working to get your material distributed as widely as possible.  People sharing your content either by forwarding emails or via social media is a vital part of this distribution process.  While there are ways to share individual stories on a multi-storey page, these tools are not widely used.  Typically, newsletter content is not set-up for easy sharing.

The Simple and Effective Alternative to the Email Newsletter

The Simple Email Blast

While email newsletters are dead, at least as an effective promotional tool, email itself is alive and kicking.  The better alternative to the traditional email newsletter is the email blast.   The blast is simple. It is a single main message or story with at most one additional secondary message.  Typically, formatting is kept to a single column (like most email messages).

A word of warning about our use of the term ‘blast’. We do not mean this as blindly carpet-bombing your audience with messages. All of your messages should be reader centric, be targeted and make relationship building a priority.  A ‘blast’ is just our way of distinguishing between traditional tools like newsletters and transactional emails like receipts and confirmations.

Simpler and Shorter

A single message is almost automatically going to be shorter than a multi-story newsletter.  You still want to pay attention to length though. If you do have a longer message, you will want to break it up with images, section breaks and smart use of typography.

At GeekCoaches, we use MailChimp to design and distribute our email blasts. We are able to create simple templates into which we simply drop new content each time. Whereas creating a full newsletter felt quite painful, creating a new email blast feels not much more complicated than sharing an article on social media.

Stay in Touch More Regularly

This shorter, simpler format means that you can send email blasts more frequently than you send newsletters.  A quarterly newsletter could become a monthly email and a monthly newsletter could become a weekly blast.  If you are sending your audience content they will value, you do not have to worry about this frequency. If you are not sending valuable content, you need to rethink your content strategy rather than your distribution strategy.

Identify the Purpose of Your Message and Your Desired Outcome

As part of creating focus for your email blast, you want to start by identifying why the message is providing value to your audience. This value should be clearly and prominently communicated in the email.  By providing value, you can also seek to have your audience act on your behalf.

With a single story, you can tie a clear call-to-action to the email. Each communication with your audience provides you with an opportunity to drive them to a specific action. You want to be specific and clear as to what that action is and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to act.   You should use highlighted links such as buttons with language that directly implores the reader to act. Among possible desired outcomes, your call-to-action can be to buy something, to contact you, or to share the email.  Ideally, your call-to-action is directly tied to the topic of your story.

The Simple Email Blast

While email newsletters are dead, at least as an effective promotional tool, email itself is alive and kicking.  The better alternative to the traditional email newsletter is the email blast.   The blast is simple. It is a single main message or story with at most one additional secondary message.  Typically, formatting is kept to a single column (like most email messages).

A word of warning about our use of the term ‘blast’. We do not mean this as blindly carpet-bombing your audience with messages. All of your messages should be reader centric, be targeted and make relationship building a priority.  A ‘blast’ is just our way of distinguishing between traditional tools like newsletters and transactional emails like receipts and confirmations.

Simpler and Shorter

A single message is almost automatically going to be shorter than a multi-story newsletter.  You still want to pay attention to length though. If you do have a longer message, you will want to break it up with images, section breaks and smart use of typography.

At GeekCoaches, we use MailChimp to design and distribute our email blasts. We are able to create simple templates into which we simply drop new content each time. Whereas creating a full newsletter felt quite painful, creating a new email blast feels not much more complicated than sharing an article on social media.

Stay in Touch More Regularly

This shorter, simpler format means that you can send email blasts more frequently than you send newsletters.  A quarterly newsletter could become a monthly email and a monthly newsletter could become a weekly blast.  If you are sending your audience content they will value, you do not have to worry about this frequency. If you are not sending valuable content, you need to rethink your content strategy rather than your distribution strategy.

Identify the Purpose of Your Message and Your Desired Outcome

As part of creating focus for your email blast, you want to start by identifying why the message is providing value to your audience. This value should be clearly and prominently communicated in the email.  By providing value, you can also seek to have your audience act on your behalf.

With a single story, you can tie a clear call-to-action to the email. Each communication with your audience provides you with an opportunity to drive them to a specific action. You want to be specific and clear as to what that action is and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to act.   You should use highlighted links such as buttons with language that directly implores the reader to act. Among possible desired outcomes, your call-to-action can be to buy something, to contact you, or to share the email.  Ideally, your call-to-action is directly tied to the topic of your story.

GeekCoaches Email Marketing

GeekCoaches can help you develop, launch and maintain an email marketing strategy. We can help you build a email list, design email marketing messages, craft money-making offers to include and distribute your content to your audience.