Should I do a newsletter or blog? Which is better?
I have this conversation all the time with clients who want to find the magic formula for getting their content in front of people, earning their trust and generating sales leads. Problem is, people tend to get so hung up on the label that they overlook what’s most important.
Most people grew up with newsletters. They understand newsletters. But they’ve also read about how more and more businesses and organizations are using a blog as a strategic marketing tool.
Generally, the people who want to sell you on a newsletter will say newsletters are better, and the people who want to sell you on a blog will say blogs are better. Hate to complicate things even further, but you can also do both.
Quite the conundrum. But it doesn’t have to be.
Newsletters and Blogs Are More Similar than Different.
Before I sat down to write this article, I read a bunch of other articles that explained the “differences” between a newsletter and a blog. They just didn’t hold water.
For example, a couple articles claimed that a blog is for making new connections and a newsletter is for building stronger relationships with people you know.
But hold on a second. Don’t most companies send blog articles to clients, prospects, business partners, social media contacts and other people they know? Can’t a blog be used to strengthen those relationships?
On the other hand, if someone you’ve never met subscribes to your newsletter, would you not send them a newsletter because you don’t know them?
If there’s one thing that might distinguish a newsletter from a blog, it’s the expectation that a newsletter will include more than a single piece of content – and something that’s actually newsworthy in the eyes of the recipient. That’s the “news” in newsletter.
For example, suppose the only content in your email newsletter is a new blog article that’s informative but not exactly news. The content may very well be relevant and valuable, but what you’re sharing isn’t really a newsletter, at least in the traditional sense.
In this case, if all you’re trying to do is educate people by sharing a blog article and nothing else, call it a blog. Similarly, if the primary goal is to share news, call it a newsletter. That’s just common sense.
Beyond that, the line between a newsletter and blog is extremely blurry.
- Both are typically shared via email (Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.) and social media.
- Both can have a permanent home on your website, provide valuable information to visitors, and improve your search ranking.
- Both can be used not only to educate and inform, but to tell a story and convey who you are as an organization.
- Both allow you to track user activity and test different approaches.
Perhaps most importantly, a blog and newsletter can be structured the same way, both in an email and on your website, to accomplish the same thing.
For example, there’s no rule that says you can’t add as much content to a blog email as you would to a newsletter email. Your blog email can introduce products and services, promote events, announce company news, or invite people to download case studies and white papers.
My point here is that a newsletter can look and function like a blog, and vice versa. There’s no need to split the atom for what amounts to marketing jargon.
Obsess About the Substance, Not the Label.
Can you communicate the same message and achieve the same business outcome with either a newsletter or a blog? Yes.
Do your clients and prospects give a crap if you call it a newsletter or blog? Nope. All they care about is whether that content is worth their time to read.
Does the content have value? Is it relevant? Does it help them solve a problem? Is there a takeaway that they can apply to make their life or job easier?
If your content is always focused on self-promotion rather than the needs of your target audience, it won’t matter if you call it a newsletter or blog. People will probably unsubscribe or just ignore it.
Do your headlines make people want to read your content? If your headline is “XYZ Newsletter, January 2019” or “Check out our new blog”, the only people who pay attention will probably be your employees. And maybe their mothers.
If you have different products and services geared towards different target audiences, are you segmenting your list and customizing the content rather than blasting the same information to everyone?
Whether you call it a newsletter or blog or come up with an original name, I always recommend showcasing one featured content piece that establishes your expertise, conveys thought leadership, or tells a client success story. You can add news about your company and helpful links to your email and/or web page as secondary content, but the featured content that delivers the most value should be the star of the show.
In the grand scheme, it doesn’t matter what label you use. So instead of stressing about what you should call it, ask these three questions.
What kind of content does our audience want?
What do we want to accomplish by sharing that content?
How should we package that content to maximize impact?
Then you can start developing content and a distribution strategy that aligns what the audience wants with your business objectives.
Remember, it’s not the label that people care about. It’s not the label that generates sales leads. It’s the substance and the strategy behind the label.
Focus on the substance and strategy, and leads will follow.