e-Newsletters: Great content, strong ties.

by Nick Usborne on October 10, 2010

With everyone rushing to reap the rewards of well-executed social media campaigns, the lowly, old-school e-newsletter is in danger of being left behind.

That would be a shame, and probably a mistake, because a good e-newsletter rocks, in several ways.

Social media is great for making the most of many-to-many engagements.

But e-newsletters are better when it comes to one-to-many engagements.

I’m not arguing against social media. But we have to understand the nature of the ties we create through sites like Twitter and Facebook. For the most part, those ties are very weak. And the greater the number of followers or friends you have, the weaker most of those individual ties will be.

And weak ties put a limit on what you can expect from social media. Offer people a coupon, and people will react. Give them a cool link, and they’ll click on it. But if you ask them to upgrade to your nifty service upgrade for just $299, the numbers of people who act will plummet.

Enter the e-newsletter.

With an e-newsletter, your ties to your readers can be much stronger. You get more quality time, and quality attention, because it is one-to-many, not many-to-many. Deliver quality, and they’ll stay with you, reading your content, without being distracted by the chatter of the “many”.

If your content is good enough, you’ll have decent open rates, and you’ll build deeper, stronger ties with each issue delivered.

So when the time comes to announce that $299 upgrade, you’ll likely get a much higher conversion rate than you would achieve with Twitter or Facebook.

Of course, that conversion rate will also depend on how carefully you have tailored your e-newsletter content to match the information needs of your true prospects. While e-newsletters have the potential to create strong ties, and deliver high conversion rates, this happens only when you are clear about your audience and their needs.

This is the other difference between an audience on Twitter and an audience of e-newsletter subscribers. The Twitter audience will include a huge variety of people, most of whom will never buy from you, some of whom might, and a few who probably will.

With an e-newsletter you can target your audience more narrowly, encourage signups from true prospects, and leave the tire kickers to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook.

Within the scope of the marketing plans for many companies, there are solid arguments for working with both social media and e-newsletters.

This article isn’t intended to bash social media. Far from it.

But it is a reminder that e-newsletters are just as powerful as they have ever been, and shouldn’t be abandoned just because they are not the latest and greatest tool in the toolbox.

Besides which, you can take two bites from the apple by building an archive of your best e-newsletter content on your site, and share those new pages through social media.

This way you get the benefits of sending out an e-newsletter, and you get social media exposure, and you get new content for your website.

[NOTE: If you enjoyed this article, you’ll doubtless enjoy the daily content ideas I publish for Web Content Café members. Learn more about membership here…]


Eunice Coughlin October 12, 2010 at 8:11 am


You make some very good points about relationship building through regular e-newsletter contact. People come to know, like and trust through valuable information in e-newsletters that they can use. Try to accomplish that through a 140 character tweet! Facebook and Twitter have their place in all of this, mainly to drive traffic to your website, but count on e-newsletters to do the true work of building solid relationships with your customers.

Betty Z October 12, 2010 at 10:25 am

Excellent post!

I find that too many online newsletters are all about the sale. Building the relationship first is paramount to a successful campaign.

Thanks for your post,
Betty Z

Terrance Collins October 28, 2010 at 10:53 am

Funny thing about newsletters. It took me back to Amdahl HQ, Sunnyvale, circa 1986.

Once a week, Charlie Gitomer, God rest his soul, put out a 2 or 3 page hardcopy newsletter (state of the art in ’86) that highlighted both our company and competitors’ goings-on. It was a compendium that I, and many customers, looked forward to eagerly on a weekly basis.

I concur with you, Nick, newsletter still earn their keep…they’ve just morphed into a digital form….How I wish I still had kept some of old Charlie’s newsletters from almost 25 years ago.

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