Should You Have an Email Newsletter for Your Blog?
A recent edition of the Blogchat Twitter chat focused on bloggers with an email newsletter and what they hope to achieve.
For years now, I’ve offered an email newsletter to accompany this site.
Many bloggers do. It’s a nice way to remind your readers that your blog is always waiting for their next visit.
But there’s more than one way for a blogger to handle an email newsletter.
Option #1: Links to Recent Posts
The way I do my email newsletter is a fairly common practice: the email, which is sent out once a week, sends an excerpt of each of the past week’s posts.
If you’d like to subscribe, you can do so right here.
I figure it’s not realistic to expect my readers — even my regular readers — to stop by every single day. And since I publish daily, the “recap”-style newsletter I send out serves as a reminder of the various pieces I’ve written over the past 7 days.
If something catches the eye of one of my subscribers, I figure they’ll click the link, come to the blog and read the full post. (And I hope they will be happy for having done so.)
Option #2: Links and Something New
Some bloggers kick it up a notch in their newsletters. They may include links to any new posts they’ve published since their last newsletter.
But they also write new content that is only contained in the newsletter. Their email newsletter becomes a source of “bonus” content that gives readers who come to their site regularly something they can’t find there.
It’s a kind of “members only” extra that may or may not be worth the extra space in your email inbox.
Option #3: Something Completely Different
The third option involves bloggers writing a newsletter as if it were a regular blog post. But the contents of the newsletter aren’t on the blog.
This kind of newsletter may offer links to specific posts or a link to the blog (or a subscribe link to a podcast or other online property). But it doesn’t necessarily link back to specific posts on the blog itself.
This option doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. You’d think — at least, I’d think — you want people coming to your website as often as possible. But if you’re able to create that much extra content and then simply drop a link to your site, more power to you!
It depends on what you think your newsletter can do.
For me, I don’t tend to believe you build a new audience via an email newsletter.
Most of the time, you have to have visited the blog to find the link to the newsletter
Don’t get me wrong: there’s great value in building a group of regular readers. They’re the ones who are more likely to spend more time on the site and leave more quality comments. They’re the ones who also are more likely to engage with other readers and keep conversations going.
But again, it’s rare to get someone to subscribe without giving them a subscription form…and your blog is pretty much the place where you’re going to supply that.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d never enter my email address into a form on someone’s social media page for a newsletter subscription without first visiting their site to get an idea of what I would expect in my inbox.
And since most of us have more than enough clutter in that inbox anyway, why would anyone reasonably expect people to sign up blindly for something?
There’s one temptation I hope you’ll resist.
For bloggers who write original content for their newsletters, I see one common pattern: the use of clickbaity subject lines.
There was an email newsletter I used to subscribe to that once sent a newsletter with the subject line, “I quit!”
That one certainly caught my eye, because it sounded as if she was about to end her blog and/or newsletter and, being curious, I clicked to read why.
But she wasn’t quitting either. In fact, the email was all about trying to turn over a new leaf in life and focusing on the positive. She wasn’t “quitting” anything so much as trying to avoid being negative.
She felt the common temptation to use hyperbole to get someone to open the email. Sure, in my case, it worked. Her “open rate” went up by one because of me.
But what she probably didn’t count on was what I did next: frustrated by feeling conned, I promptly unsubscribed from her newsletter.
She lost me.
And it was her own fault.
So if you’re going to do a newsletter, figure out what you hope to accomplish. Put yourself in the place of your readers.
And more than anything else, be honest.