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8 Reasons to Add a Newsletter to Your Blog

Reasons-To-Add-Newsletter-To BlogAlmost every time I write about having an email newsletter associated with my blog (as I did yesterday in sharing how I drastically increased subscriber numbers) I get people asking me why I use newsletters?

The questions on newsletters as a medium often include:

  • Isn’t Email old fashioned?
  • Isn’t RSS the new way forward?
  • What about Social Networking – isn’t that more effective than email newsletters?
  • Aren’t Newsletters very one way and not very conversational?
  • Isn’t building a ‘list’ as a way of doing online marketing a thing of the past?
  • Doesn’t the Blog replace the newsletter?

While I can see why people would ask these types of questions – if I had to name one technology or medium that has had the greatest impact upon building my blogs readership – newsletters would be right up there, particularly since moving services to Aweber.

Let me qualify that by saying it does vary a little from blog to blog depending upon the topic and the type of reader they attract.

8 Reasons I use Newsletters & the benefits they bring

Before I go any further – let me say that I’m not talking about RSS to email newsletters that simply convert your RSS feed into emails. I’m talking about building a list of subscribers who get a weekly or monthly (or some other period) purpose written newsletter. It might point people to your blog and posts you’ve written but it’s purpose written and often includes other material exclusive to newsletter subscribers.

1. Newsletters create Loyalty

The majority of your blogs readers never come back.

The sad reality is that despite our best efforts, there’s a lot of passing through traffic on most blogs. People arrive from a search engine, another blog or website or a social media site – they stay for a few moments, consume what they can and then move on.

Unless you find a way to ‘hook’ people into returning to your blog the majority of your readers won’t return. It’s not that they don’t want to or that your site is bad – they just forget and/or have no means to remind themselves of your blog.

A newsletter is a way of giving those people who arrive on your blog a way to opt in to being reminded to come back to your blog. The same can be said for RSS but a newsletter reaches a different crowd to RSS (more on this below).

2. Newsletters Develop Relationships and Trust

After two years of sending weekly newsletters to my readership at DPS I’m now starting to get some interesting interactions from subscribers. They’re emailing me like they’d email a friend.
What I’m finding is that the weekly newsletters (in which I’ve got a photo of myself and share the occasional snippets from my life including the birth of children, trips I’m taking, things that I’m doing) are making me very familiar to my subscribers. They seem to feel like they ‘know me’. It’s difficult to explain but I guess when you get as many emails from someone as these people get from me – they really do ‘know me’ (at least on some levels).
Not only do emails build relationships and intimacy with your readership – they build trust. My newsletter subscribers respond to affiliate promotions much more than my normal blog readers. They seem to follow the recommendations that I make and try the things I suggest.
RSS and just blogging can build relationships and trust also – but I suspect adding email newsletters into the mix adds to it.

3. Newsletters Drive Page Views/Traffic

My biggest traffic days are those that I send out newsletters. I use newsletters to highlight new posts on the blog and key discussions in the forum that I run. The more helpful and topical the posts and discussions the more traffic the links in the newsletter drives.

Interestingly – if you need an ‘explosive’ burst of traffic to a particular post a newsletter can be great for this. For example:

  • if you’re launching a new product or service and want to kick it off well – do it with a newsletter as well as a blog post
  • if you’re launching a new affiliate campaign – do it the same day you send a newsletter
  • if you’re wanting a post to do well on a social bookmarking site like Digg – put a digg button on the post and a few minutes later send out your newsletter pointing people at the post.

These sudden bursts of traffic can really help build momentum around the projects that you’re starting.

4. Newsletters are Familiar

Most of your readers don’t know what RSS is and unless you offer them an email subscription option they are unlikely to ‘subscribe’. While RSS awareness is growing, some research shows that it’s slowing and even peaking in it’s use. I personally feel it’ll continue to grow and be utilized by people (even when they don’t know they’re using the technology) but email will continue (at least in the short term) to be one of the most used forms of communication on the planet.

This is a little dependent upon your topic and audience. Some of your readerships will be more tech savvy (and RSS familiar) than others and in those cases email newsletters may not be quite as effective – but I suspect in most niches offering a newsletter will be effective.

5. Newsletters Build a Core Community and Enhance Reader Engagement

One word that keeps coming up as I interact with my newsletter subscribers is ‘membership’. I don’t use the word but have noticed increasingly that subscribers refer to themselves as ‘members’ or as having signed up for ‘membership’. I find it interesting that these subscribers don’t see themselves as just receiving an email (as a subscriber) but as having joined something or being a member of a community.

I guess signing up for something is a reader showing some level of participation and commitment to a site – by doing so they’re investing something in your blog and feel like participants.

I use the words ‘core community’ above because I find that those who subscribe to a newsletter are often among the most loyal and committed members of your blog’s community. These are people who want the inside word on your site and are telling you that they want to know what’s going on as soon as they can. They’ve given you permission to contact them – as a result they’re a powerful group of people to know and be able to communicate to (and they can actually help you grow your blog further as they can be effective evangelists for you).

6. Newsletters can Track and Target Groups of Readers

Using a tool like Aweber to run your newsletter gives you access to all kinds of interesting tools, stats and opportunities. You can track which links in your post get the most clicks (this can be used as a form of research into what readers respond to) but you can also segment readers into different groups and target them with individual messages.

For example:

  • You can send special newsletters just to new subscribers – for example you could send an email every month just to those who’ve signed up in that time highlighting key posts in your archives.
  • You can track who clicks on affiliate links in your posts and send them emails with special offers
  • You can send special emails just to subscribers who never open emails (testing subject lines with different strategies in them)

Really the sky is the limit as to what you can test and how you can target readers.

7. Newsletters help build Momentum

I use my newsletter not only for promotion of content and affiliate products but to build a sense of momentum on my blog. Every few weeks on my photography blog I’ll give subscribers a little extra insight into milestones that we’ve reached as a community, mentions we’ve had in mainstream media, new features that we’re adding etc. In this way I give those subscribed a sense that they’re a part of something that is growing and exciting.

I find that as I do this that readers respond very well and give me feedback on how they’ve been helping the site to grow (by promoting it to their friends).

8. Newsletters Open Up Possibilities for Monetization

Newsletters open up another avenue for profit for those of you developing online businesses.

I’ve already mentioned numerous times that newsletters can be effective when it comes to affiliate programs – but they can also be good when it comes to advertising revenue.

Selling ad space in our newsletter can be quite lucrative when you build up your readership. I’ve found that advertisers can be willing to pay quite good CPM rates because they know a newsletter subscriber base are usually pretty committed and loyal readers (and very focused around a niche too).

Further Reading on Email Newsletters

Update: While I use Aweber to deliver my emails I also recommend checking out Get Response which is being used by a lot of bloggers these days.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Acakadut says:

    what’s the different between newsletter & email subscriber (feedburner) ???

  2. Jim Offerman says:

    But, but… e-mail is for old people! (according to this: http://www.mediafuturist.com/2008/10/email-is-for-ol.html)

    Still, you make some valid points here!

  3. It’s all about the different patterns of readership. Some people like to read a blog or an RSS feed; others prefer to print things out. Some, save it all up for the end of the month, while others prefer video, or audio, to text. In other words, there is no right or wrong way to deliver your material. Instead, you do best when you make your content available in every possible format – which means a blog, an RSS feed, a posting in a social network, a headline in Pownce or Twitter, as well as a newsletter.

    You will also find that some people would prefer to receive the newsletter in the mail, rather than their email inbox.

    So, adding a newsletter to a blog does all the things you suggest, Darren, but at the heart of what you are doing is providing your content in the preferred format of your audience. And since every audience has many different preferences, almost all bloggers are missing out by not making their content available in other ways (me included…!)

  4. John says:

    have any great Newsletter software / web apps suggestions besides aweber?

  5. Gem says:

    I still find the old email useful. Not all (even bloggers) are that tech-savvy in using RSS feeds. Some of bloggers just go through their blogroll to check updates on their friends.

    I like the first point on creating “loyalty”. I never thought it that way. Thanks for pointing that out!

  6. Roy Scribner says:

    That does shed some light on the topic for me – I was confused over the RSS email feed vs. a periodic newsletter. I need to subscribe to your newsletter and get a better feel for how that content differs – thanks!

  7. @John, I use Phplist (www.phplist.com), opensource software to manage on your server, efficient, plenty of features including stats.

  8. sarah says:

    You are correct in almost everything you have said about newsletters but there are pitfalls of creating and having newsletters. There is a whole art of getting through the spam filters, and being seen as authentic.

    It’s not just enough to have a newsletter and expect to get loyalty. That is something along with trust that is earnt over time.

    The format of a newsletter is also very important as people are more frequently looking at e-mails on mobile phones and blackberry devices. As such they need to be able to render on these devices otherwise they can cause chaos.

    I could go on but I’m going to stop here. I suspec that there is probably a follow up post on this subject on it’s way knowing what you are like about multiple posts…

    I’m sure this post got you more readers on your newsletter. :)

  9. Kok Choon says:

    I reckon RSS will replace email for blogger, but I guest I am wrong or this will not happen anytime soon!

    Email still a very powerful tool to build relationship and keep in touch with our readers… and especially good to sell product…!

    However, there are people just don’t like them, but other seems to love them.

  10. You’re points are completely valid, I spend a lot of time simply teaching people how to use RSS and Email updates can become annoying.

  11. So you got me with this one. Yes! You are familiar and I might add everywhere. When I read #2 above it gave me one of those “Light Bulb moments” where I recognized the importance of what you are saying.

  12. Debo Hobo says:

    I would do a newsletter if one I had content and two I could afford it.

  13. Ryan McLean says:

    I’ve always thought that having a newsletter is a good idea. And this post just confirms my thoughts and gives me some more ideas on what I can do with my newsletter. Thanks for the great post Darren!

  14. Tressa says:

    Hi Darren, as always your postss amaze me with how you seem to know what I’m thinking and write about it – so you help answer my question.
    I’ve created a site where I am just catching people’s email. I plan on launching an ezine but wasn’t sure whether I should have a weekly, or monthly one, or what to include. This article has touched on it a bit, but perhaps if you could provide that kind of info, I would be grateful. Otherwise I’m going to research it and write about it on my blog.

    As always thanks for your posts.

    Tressa :)

  15. I just recently started my own newsletter using Aweber and the response has been great. What is really rewarding is when I get an email from someone who subscribed thanking me for putting it together and making it available.

    One feature you will find on mine is I include items in the newsletter not covered or featured on my blog. Those who subscribe to the newsletter should get something special in return. I am also featuring a “featured blog” each issue too.

    I decided to publish the newsletter after watching a few other bloggers over the last couple of months. I mainly watch to see how successful publishing a newsletter was for them and how it affected their readership. It was quite clear to me that adding a newsletter would add value to my blog and to the community I was trying to build.

    Additionally, publishing a newsletter is just one more way you can position yourself as a thought leader and/or opinion shaper in your niche. No one should discount the affect a newsletter can have on your marketing efforts. And no one should rule out a newsletter until you research and really consider doing one.

    Also, keep in mind what Darren says about email being familiar. People expect to get these kind of marketing tools in their email and as recent research has show, only 11% of Internet users actually use RSS. Email subscribing to a blog is common which adds to the consideration for doing a newsletter they can also subscribe to and get in their email.

    Thanks again Darren for a great post.

  16. RobinSue says:

    I am ready to launch my first newsletter within the next two weeks, so this post is timely. My question is- What is the best day of the week to deliver an email newsletter? All imput appreciated. Thanks!

  17. @Debo — Doing a newsletter is cheap. Aweber cost less then $30 a month and you can do as many with your acct as you want.

    @John — I sure Darren would agree, Aweber is an excellent choice and their prices are very reasonable.

  18. Pat with SPI says:

    Darren,

    I actually just started a subscriber list on aweber last night (spent a couple hours reading the how to info and watching the vids, about to attend a free seminar as well).

    They are really good at making sure that we have the training to take advantage of the power of the newsletter.

    I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

    Thanks for the timely topics!

  19. Great article, I just added an email subscription link to my site, I used feed burner though. I would like to use something like Aweber to try out…anything out there similar to aweber, but free? Anyone?

  20. Webdesi3 says:

    I’d love to start a newsletter but I don’t think I have enough content to have a regular one. Is it possible to get people to agree when they sign up for feed to get occassional newsletters delivered to them?
    What do you reckon?
    Would anyone go for it?

  21. Having a newsletter is one way to get up there with the top dogs of blogging. You always have to have a way to catch up with them and a newsletter is one way you can do that.

    I know that I have taught most people to always have a newsletter or some way to collect people’s e-mails. It does seem a little trashy to some people but as long as you do not try to spam you should be OK. Just make sure they know what they are getting.

  22. Sarah H. says:

    I haven’t yet considered adding a newsletter to my blog because I’m just starting out. However your great reasons here make me think. Thanks!

  23. I’ve just started the newsletter process on my blog. I enjoy putting out newsletters, but I also don’t want to be one of those “spammers” always putting out affiliate links. I think as long as you maintain a balance and offer true and unique insight in your newsletter, then you can’t help but win.

    I love the idea of making the newsletter more personal than the blog. Great stuff man.

  24. amirulcyber says:

    thanks darren for this article.it is very useful to me.

  25. MLRebecca says:

    Newsletters are an important part of building community, and should be integrated into blogging efforts. Not only is it a way of hand-delivering your content to the recipient, but it also sets them up as a VIP who is kept in your blog’s loop. You list some other very valid points here, Darren, and as you mentioned, they do open up the door to the possibility of monetization! Thanks for posting!

  26. I was one of those readers who asked this question yesterday and I am curious as well as Acakadut. I would like to know the difference and if I should even use the feedburner tool.

  27. Surender says:

    Newsletter is the best source to publish customize feed(news,articles).Newsletter can generate loyalty and can generate money by adsense.

  28. Michael says:

    Great article. I’m at that early stage where I’m trying to generate traffic. Are there any newsletter templates? How do you create on. I mean, what format is the best?

    Thanks for posting the info.

  29. Hi Darren,

    Good post but I didn’t get my biggest question answered:

    Why don’t you use the RSS-to-email things that auto generate the email? It seems like your newsletter is still mostly linking to blog posts, right?

    It seems like 90% of the benefit with no additional work.

    Thanks!
    Brian

  30. @StartBreakingFree.com

    I think newsletters are far more powerful. Instead of auto generating emails based on posts, you can send out broadcasts whenever you feel like it. It gives you a lot more options than a simple RSS-to-email function.

    @ Darren

    I agree 100% with the post today. Especially the “Newsletters Develop Relationships and Trust” part. I think it is a great way for readers to gain trust in you.

    I just implemented my own newsletter “series” which I hope to bring in some new readers. So far it has been a success and I hope to see the numbers rise over time. Who doesn’t want to escape the cubicle?

  31. Thanks for this encouragement. I have been thinking about getting a newsletter going, but have kept putting it off.

    I’m going to look into it right away.

  32. Look Darren, you’ve got it completely wrong on this one! J/K Once again, a useful post to refer back to. Thanks!

  33. David King says:

    Thanks for the insight darren! I love your book problogger by the way!
    it’s awesome!

    Newsletters do give readers and subscribers a sense of belonging and even ownership in some ways…
    they feel as if they are part of this great team on this blog… which they are!

    Thanks for the insight… I really really need to get a newsletter for my blog!

    David King,

    http://yougottaseethisblog.com

  34. And the only reason to not add a newsletter: Being unable to stick to the delivery schedules as promised and intended, as Darren.

  35. Darren, really inspiring perspective. We had planned to launch one in early September but pulled back. Your post indicates we need to reconsider that decision. I’ll get to work!

    I’m assuming the newsletter has nothing to do with your migraine because that would be a buzz killer for me :)

    Thanks,

    Shane

  36. Armen says:

    Darren,

    I agree with you 100%.

    Email newsletters are not dead, and anyone who thinks they are, clearly knows nothing.

    However, having been a subscriber and follower of Problogger for about 2 years, I can say, if you have one weak point… it’s your newsletter!

    Honestly buddy, your use of having access into peoples inbox, is very poor, and you’re not connecting with people as powerfully as you could.

    Thankfully, you could change it with one tweak…use the word ‘you’.

    The thing is, Darren, you write your newsletters like you would write a blog post update, which is not harnessing the power of emailed newsletters. You never use the word ‘you’, and as a result, you don’t connect personally with your subscribers at all.

    I’ll not go on anymore here. You may be aware of this weakness, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, if you’d like help or advice, just shoot me an email, and I’d be glad to help you out. Either that or talk to Brian C. about it. I’m sure he’d be only to glad to help you too.

    Later buddy!

  37. J.D. says:

    Thanks for clarifying the reasons that bloggers should develop newsletters, Darren. I am definitely going to start a newsletter, and use Aweber. Thanks for your article! I’ll promptly Diigo it and add it to my Bloggers and Social Media Diigo Group.

  38. Keral Patel says:

    Currently I am using feedburner’s email subscription feature to deliver my emails to the readers. But I have checked out aweber. It is surely a powerful tool for email subscriptions.

  39. Darren,

    Do you have any recommendations regarding plugins (wordpress) and/or other options for setting up a newsletter subscribe function on a blog that are free?

    I understand you use Aweber, and promote it every now and then here on ProBlogger, but for those of us who are setting up a new blog, or perhaps only get a thousand or so visitors a day, spending money on a newsletter service isn’t financially viable in the short term, and the volume of likely subscribers means that its probably possible to send emails out over an isp connection without getting classed as a spam merchant.

    Recommendations would be useful at this point. There is of course the route of writing the functionality myself and bolting it into wordpress, but this isn’t ideal, and why re-invent the wheel.

  40. fanav says:

    Thanks for the great tip! I’m trying to learn as many tips about good blogging as I can, so I appreciate the advice. I’m certainly one of those who has minimal loyalty to any blogs, so getting a newsletter would definitely drive me to visit more often.

  41. edhitok says:

    Nice analyze. I just follow thw master said. Thanks a lot

  42. Bizhack says:

    Email still seems to be the universally preferred method of communication. I am surprised that many if not most of my fairly tech savvy friends have heard of RSS, but have no idea how to use one nor a wish to start doing so. In an age where everyone has an email address, perhaps offering an email subscription (of any sort) on your blog is more important than RSS.

    To that effect, I’m pretty surprised at the lack of blog to email services out there apart from the obvious candidates like feedburner and feedblitz.

    Aweber is obviously one of the best solutions, especially for a site like yours which needs to reach out to a formidable amount of subscribers. For the little guy however, Aweber might not be such a practical or cost effective solution.

    I send out a weekly/bi-weekly, non automatic newsletter (i.e. I compose it myself) using Feedburner. Feedburner is set to check for daily updates on on a particular category, rather than on my universal blog RSS. When I want to send a newsletter, I write a normal post (HTML or plain text, its up to me) and assign it that particular category. Feedburner will then update and send that single post out to all of my subscribers.

    This is by far the easiest free solution I have found so far and while it doesn’t have the functionality of Aweber, it works for me at the moment. I can even add Feedburner adsense.

  43. Dilip Shaw says:

    I usually donut read newsletters, but I agree that news letters are helpful, though 25% are not delivered as they are caught in the spam filters.

    Dilip Shaw
    http://www.dilipshaw.com/

  44. Btw, any figures on the read rate ?? I get an average of 45 to 50% over 9200 subscribers, with bounced emails < 100, using free phplist solution.

  45. Darren,

    Here’s my main thoughts on newsletters. Many blogs/sites feel that sending out emails, even cute little personalized ones with your name @ the top, will really help develop readership loyalty, engagement, trust, etc. and I honestly believe that this is no longer true. Every single day i open up my 3 email accounts and find that the majority of my emails, 80%, are what I consider spam. Many blogs that I follow that send me emails I consider spam. This is unfortunate because many people who have the best of intentions with their emails are not receiving the desired results.

    A newsletter on the other hand is an entirely different idea presented in a similar context that can greatly increase loyalty, engagement, trust, etc because 1. it isn’t as recent or informal as an email. It shows hard work and dedication and the addition of a newsletter helps to validate the legitimacy of the site. Great explanations on the positive effects of a newsletter. I’d personally like to see more of these, even if on a monthly basis, from many of the blogs that I read.

  46. Caleb says:

    Of course,the ultimate reason is to build your list ;)

  47. Darren -

    What software do you use to send out your newsletter? What do you use to manage your list? Any suggestions?

  48. Dan tanner says:

    Newsletters is still old fashioned good old charm. Back in early days of Internet I used newsletter via Aweber in 1999 to solicit people for our mortgage business, even though they had access to my direct line- which was answered by anyone in the office. It created a club like community. Those people stayed long after they got the mortgage and we refinanced the 2-3 times in 1 year! So Darren’s 8 points are valid from my experiences.

  49. Darren:

    Which newsletters do you read? (a serious question)

    I asked myself this very question, prior to making this reply. It is 1. A daily from green company Ideal Bite. That is the only one i subscribe to AND READ.

    Aside from that i also subscribe to a few RSS email newsletters from blogger friends of mine. This number is less than 5.

  50. Gira Busch says:

    I don´t read newsletters, but sometimes the newsletters are helpful.