On the face of it, blogs and newsletters (here, Im thinking of online newsletters or ezines) seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to communicating with customers. The type of information they provide and the way they deliver it seem to be very different, but they can work well together and really complement each other.
If we strip away everything else, newsletters and blogs both have the same aim. They are there to communicate information from the author to the reader. However, the type of information that they contain and the way in which they distribute that content varies considerably.
So what are the main differences?
- newsletters are generally created and distributed at regular intervals monthly or weekly newsletters are the most common – while blogs have content added on an ongoing basis;
- normally, newsletters will be more crafted and formatted, while blogs will tend to be less formal in style and generally more chatty;
- blogs are ideal for announcing up to the minute information (immediate publishing), while newsletters will tend to feature less time sensitive articles;
- blogs continually grow to contain any number of posts while individual newsletters will tend to have a small number of longer articles;
- Newsletters have tended to be considered as primarily “push” marketing (you send it out via email) while blogs were “pull” marketing (encouraging visitors to come to the blog).
However, this last point has been changing of late and there has been a gradual blurring of the previously well defined lines of how we get the content and information to our readers.
Traditionally, a blog uses RSS as its method of distributing its information while newsletters are sent out via email. This no longer has to be the case though email and RSS are in fact simply distribution methods which can be used for either. So, as Ive outlined below, I believe that content (with certain modifications) and these two methods of distribution can be for both and should be.
For example, using a service such as FeedBlitz, readers of this blog have the opotion to receive updates on new posts by email – ideal if they are still unfamiliar with RSS readers. Likewise, rather than just send your newsletter out via email and have spam filters do their worst to it, you can add a copy of it to your website or blog, and then ask people to subscribe to a dedicated newsletter RSS feed. You publish a new newsletter and automatically all your readers are informed that it is ready and available.
You are simply offering your readers the choice of how they want to receive the information!
So, if there are are a number of elements which are interchangeable, how can newsletters and blogs benefit from each other. Well, some of the key ways are:
- a newsletter offers an additional incentive to visit your blog in the same way that a “Series” of posts on a certain subject will encourage people back to the blog to read the next instalment, so newsletters can achieve the same effect;
- you can highlight particular posts from your blog in the newsletter which acts as an additional avenue to promote the information these key posts contain and your blog as a whole;
- newsletters can help to add a sense of community to the blog while commenting is the best way to get involved, subscribing to a newsletter seems to help people feel part of it as well;
- you can publicise your Newsletter on your Blog and host an electronic copy of it there, as well as include a sign up form to subscribe to it;
- you can set up an RSS feed for your Newsletter on your blog so that people know when your latest issue has been published;
- despite spam, email remains the medium that most people are comfortable with, whereas blogs still feel foreign to some. Make sure your readers feel at ease and mix the two media.
In conclusion, try to use your Blog and newsletter in conjunction with each other. They are both excellent ways of communicating with your readers and each is ideal for delivering differing information and initiating interaction in different ways. At the end of the day, using both will allow them to complement each other and will provide your readers with the choice of what information they receive and how they want to receive it.