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6 Reasons Why You Need to Consider Email as a Communication Strategy on Your Blog

Email is back!

Earlier in the week I mentioned that one of the emerging themes in the monetization sessions at Blog World Expo was the idea of membership sites as a way to make an income from a blog.

The other theme that emerged in a number of the sessions was that many bloggers were placing increased attention on the medium of email as a way to communicate with readers.

Email is back!

Actually email never really went away – but it’s back on the radar of many bloggers after a swing over the last few years away from it in favour of other mediums such as RSS.

RSS feeds are far from being dead as a way to communicate with readers but while some saw the advances in feeds and feed readers as an email killer many entrepreneurial bloggers are now realising that perhaps they should not have given up on email.

I shared on at least one of the panels that I was on at BWE how email on my photography blog is much more effective than RSS on a number of fronts:

1. The Numbers Speak for Themselves

On DPS I currently have a total of 340,784 subscribers. 223,081 of these subscribe via email – 117,703 of them subscribe via RSS. That’s a 2:1(ish) ratio. While this ratio will vary from site to site considerably (depending upon the niche) I’d guess that on most blogs it’d be similar – the exception possibly being sites with a more techy/social media focus.

2. Email Drives Great Traffic

The days I send out Newsletters are the biggest days of traffic on the site. I shared this graphic a few months ago but here’s the traffic to the blog area of my site on newsletter days (it’s pretty obvious which days the newsletters went out):

dps-blog-newsletter.png

RSS certainly does drive traffic – however it is less – probably because most people read the content in their feed reader.

3. Email subscribers are monetizing better than other subscribers with onsite advertising

One of the interesting things that also happens on newsletter days is that the rate that people seem to click on ads also seems to go up slightly. This was a surprise to me when I first saw it because I would have thought that subscribers who visit the blog each week would become blind to the ads but the CTR (click through rate) on my AdSense ads goes up on newsletter days. Here’s a quick screen grab of total AdSense revenue on the DPS blog – again you can see the rises for newsletter days.

adsense.png

4. Email Also Monetizes Better with other Income Streams

Not only does AdSense income increase on newsletter days but I’m finding that other monetization strategies also work well in the newsletter. Three come to mind:

  • Affiliate promotions have worked really well in newsletter for me. I’ve tested this a number of times by posting a blog post about a product I’m promoting and sending an email about the product. In every instance that I’ve tested it the newsletter wins hands down. The best performing affiliate promotions actually work best where you do a blog post AND an email promotion – but without the email component I find I’m definitely leaving money on the table every time.
  • Product Launches - if you have your own product to launch I find that in a similar way to how affiliate promotions work best in emails – so too does selling your own stuff. Again – posting both on your blog and via email (and in other places like twitter) can help increase sales further but email is crucial in driving sales.
  • Direct Ad Sales – lastly the few times that I’ve sold ads in my newsletter to direct advertisers I’ve had very good feedback from the advertisers. We ran a big promotion both on our blog and in our newsletter earlier in the year for a big computer brand and the feedback we got was that the campaign was most effective on newsletter day from clicks from within the email.

5. Email is Personal and Builds Community

There is something about a regular email newsletter that just seems to make people feel more connected to you. I find it hard to put my finger why but there’s something about receiving a good email that just seems more powerful than reading a good blog post via an RSS feed. It just seems a little more personal, more special.

Perhaps it is because RSS is generally read in an RSS feed reader where there are hundreds of competing posts to be read or perhaps it is because an email is delivered into an inbox filled with more personal communications or perhaps it is because when someone signs up for an email they have to give you something personal – their address – whereas with RSS they don’t have to reveal anything about themselves.

I’m not sure WHY it is the case – but every week I get people emailing me to thank me for the emails I send them. I’ve never had anyone thank me for my RSS feed….

The newsletters I send do more than drive traffic and make money – they seem to make people feel as though they belong. To get an email someone has to sign up – they become a member of sorts and this is reflected in the emails that they send me that talk about ‘our site’.

6. Email is more Accessible

I only really started to experiment with email because someone in my family asked me how they could get updates from my photography blog. When I told them about RSS they stared back at me with a blank face. I added an email option and they immediately subscribed.

If you only offer RSS as a way to access your site’s information you’re excluding my family member and probably a lot of other people too.

For this reason I advise giving people a variety of ways to get updates whether it be RSS, daily emails, weekly emails, Twitter updates…. whatever is relevant for your audience.

Don’t Forget about RSS

I don’t want this post to be seen as writing off RSS. It’s an amazing technology and is still really important to my own sites. It too drives traffic, makes money, reinforces brand etc – all I guess I’m arguing is that bloggers take a 2nd look at email.

My personal approach is to have multiple points of connection with readers which reinforces what I’m doing on my sites and maximise the impression that I’m able to make upon them.

How I Use Email

Tomorrow I want to continue this focus upon email to talk about how I use email newsletters to achieve some of the above things. While you can set up tools to just automatically send out emails at predefined intervals to those that subscribe to your blog you can actually take it to the next level and set up a system that is much much more effective.

Tomorrow I’ll walk you through the emails that I send to my newsletter list and share with you some of the techniques that I’ve found that work to drive traffic and make money.

UPDATE: part 2 is now live at How I use email newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money.

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. Thank you for putting some data and affirmation behind some things I have been wondering about. Everyone says you need an RSS feed, but quite frankly in some non-tech oriented markets, email far outpaces RSS feeds in terms of usage. Your other tips regarding email just give more reason why one should not abandon email. Great post, as always!

  2. All great points Darren. I think the relative importance of email for blogs with non-tech topics is even greater due to the less-sophisticated reader base.

    On my blog about fly fishing, I currently have 56 subscribers via RSS, and 1540 via email! How’s that for a ratio?

    Andrew

  3. Veronica says:

    Very interesting, and we also find that w/ B2B for our blog (vivaglobal.wordpress.com) that, as we just posted in “We’re not anti-social…” (media, that is,) that for us dinosaur Boomers EM is a better “conduit” for our blog. Easy to do: just select “link” and send a “personal” bcc note to your tribe. They are right there at their desks on their EM anyway….

  4. If you haven’t already check out FeedmailPro.com as an alternative to Aweber. Costs a whole lot less and has the same high deliverability.

  5. Thanks for the list of 6 reasons, they are most wanted.

  6. Galvahaha says:

    Hey Darren,

    When you reach someone in their most personal space, they are at their most relaxed and receptive. They are much more likely to embrace your value to them and what you have to say.

    E-mail is the most personal digital space you can reach someone at. If you can get permission and earn their trust in that space, then there is the highest chance of them reading, clicking, buying, and so forth.

    It’s the same way with physical goods. Seeing someone try to give you value and spread their message on the street is nothing compared to getting to know someone that interests you, then inviting them over and them saying the same thing in the comfort and privacy of your home.

    Thanks for the reminder to not forget the power of email,
    Oleg

  7. Maggie says:

    I definitely agree that email is not dead! We use email marketing for our clients and agency and it has delivered great results – in both traffic and high ROI. Great post!

  8. Darren – terrific post. I didn’t (and still have not) launched newsletters on one of my blogs and have regretted it. I launched it immediately on another site and already have received excellent subscription rates and responses to my newsletter. Totally agree – all blogs should have a newsletter. It’s just silly not to.

  9. Syed Akram says:

    On 12th October 2009 Wall Street Journal came out with this article which written by Jessica E. Vascellaro “Why Email No Longer Rules…And that means for the way communicate.”

    In the article she talks about a new way of communication that taking place email as our main communication before. Also How Facebook and Twitter nowadays giving more fun for people who always online and faster too.

    I’m totally disagree with her as I wrote about it to in my blog. After read this article I’m sure now I’m on the right side.

  10. Interesting post, thanks for this. I think there is a tendency at the moment to prioritise social media and forget that this is just one marketing channel among many. I run a social media agency and time and time again I advocate running your social media strategy in conjunction with other marketing channels.
    Email is certainly not dead and I for one need to find a way to make it work for my blog. From personal experience I rarely read email newsletters, but I think this is different when it comes from a blog. There is already an increased level of engagement with a blog than with a company so a user would be more likely to read and click through.
    I need to figure out how I’m going to make email work for my blog. I don’t just want to be one newsletter among many :)

  11. taufgeschenk says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  12. Manish says:

    again a lovely post by u :)

    http://www.entrancecorner.com

  13. I’m a fairly new blogger and have been trying to gather as much info as possible on its effectiveness. One recent seminar that I attended talked about email marketing vs. blogging. I did get the impression that email was passe. It looks like I need to continue to educate myself on how to mix the two.

    Thanks for this post.

  14. Paul Hassing says:

    Dear Darren, you continue to produce the most honest, useful and transparent content I’ve ever seen. Those charts of yours really lay it out.

    You are the perfect antidote to the deathly ‘commercial in confidence’ phrase that big firms and governmetns are so fond of using.

    Would that all important dealings could be so patent. Brilliant stuff. Many thanks! P. :)

  15. Ronblogger says:

    Email marketing will always be there, like the classic “Money is in the list” i agree regarding the difference of email to RSS

  16. In the pass, email solicitation has been a turn off for me. I know that it is very effective, however, what about the people who forget that they have signed up for your email? Most of them think that the email they received from you are spam and actually turn you in. At least that was the way it was several years ago. I hope that things have changed and there is a better way to get people to sign up and have them validate that they did want to be solicited by email?

    Most of my traffic is organic and I get a fair amount and it is very targeted traffic. I could also use more traffic, but I shy away from email as a method to get it.

    I rely on my SEO plugins and SEO related articles and the search engines for my traffic. I will have to research email as a method and see if it is a solution for me at this time.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Spunky – if you send emails within a few days of subscribing and then every week people who subscribe generally don’t forget they subscribed. Plus there’s an easy unsubscribe link in every email. Sure a very small % might forget but I can count on one hand the amount of complaints I’ve had in 3 years.

  17. @Darren Rowse

    Do you have any posts or ebooks, where you explain the procedures for a effective email campaign?

  18. excellent job man.but still if anyone thinks email is dead, they just don’t know how to use email in a way that works.

    Network Marketing

  19. Aditya Kane says:

    Point 5: Email is personal and builds community is a real clincher. People often forget the value of a personal touch going for more efficiency which is often too cold.
    This is probably true for any business and not just blogging.

  20. work at home says:

    Now I am using these strategy. I have collect lots of email and every time I get some interesting topic I mail to my friend. A also get response from them.

  21. I have been using email as a marketing and traffic generating tool for quite some time. It is matchless, easy and quick way. The writer has done a great job by writing this article. This article will be helpful for newbies.

  22. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in it.

  23. Ken says:

    For me the email has proven to be better, because it goes to a person who hopefully reads it. RSS is good, but many feeds go into a reader and are easy to ignore.

  24. Andrew Yates says:

    Great points, I see a similar effect on client sites. I agree that RSS is still important as another medium to engage with people who would not like to receive email newsletters.

    Thanks

  25. 6 fantastic reasons I must say. And I do really agree email marketing is still working fine and I am not confused though some times I do heard rumors about its decay..

  26. Thanks Darren, this post was really helpful. On my new blog, I had forgotten all about the e-mail subscription; I assumed the feed would be enough. Of course, however, not everyone is as computer savvy. I’m sure this will garner me much traffic in the future!

  27. Bobjuck says:

    Email is still a great way to notify people about content. Like your Lexblog set up or feedburner, it easy to push your content out through multiple channels.Progiftstore.com

  28. Bob B says:

    E-mail is the most personal digital space you can reach someone at. If you can get permission and earn their trust in that space, then there is the highest chance of them reading, clicking, buying, and so forth.

  29. reiner says:

    That should be very helpful!