One of the most common questions people ask me about content marketing is whether they should start with a blog or newsletter. Both are great tools for connecting with your clients and prospects, but they aren’t interchangeable.
To answer that question properly, start with your audience. How do they prefer to consume their media? Are they sitting in front of a computer screen all day with high-speed Internet access? Are they walking around a shop floor? Do they tend to carry — and constantly check — smartphones?
Then, think about how much time and money you’re willing to invest in producing content. Do you have a few hours a month? Or a few hours a week?
Once you’ve mapped out those two things, here are some factors that could help you decide which platform would be more effective for your business.
- Minimal time commitment. While there are some great daily e-mail newsletters out there, most businesses publish less frequently. A monthly or quarterly newsletter shouldn’t take you more than a few hours per issue.
- Requires an audience base. Before you create an e-mail newsletter, you need to figure out where your subscribers are coming from. If you already routinely collect your customers’ e-mail addresses and you’d like to find a way to keep in touch with them, a newsletter could be perfect. Just be careful not to spam people: Ethical content marketers only send e-mail newsletters to people who have actively opted in for receiving communications from them (no paid or “rented” lists). Disregard that rule and you’ll risk alienating your customers, as well as pissing off your ISP and e-mail service provider.
- Gathers hard data. When people sign up to receive your e-mail newsletter, you’ll have the opportunity to collect all sorts of information on them, which will help you target your content and offers more effectively.
- Appeals to readers on the go. Contrary to years of warnings, e-mail isn’t anywhere near dead. E-mail newsletters are great if your audience is more likely to be checking their e-mail frequently on their mobile device all day than sitting in front of a computer.
- More time consuming. A successful business blog will need to be updated at least once or twice a week. Are you prepared to dedicate the resources needed to make that happen?
- More conversational. In contrast to e-mail newsletter, which are primarily one-way communications, blogs are designed to invite conversation. When properly cultivated, they can create a community around your industry or product.
- Serves as a hub for all other content. With a blog, you’ll have the ability to showcase a wide variety of content. It can house your videos, podcasts, slide presentations, etc., all in one place, making it easy for your audience to find them.
Ultimately, this isn’t really an either-or proposition. An approach that ties your blog and e-mail newsletter together under an integrated marketing strategy is ideal. Blogging can help you attract new newsletter subscribers, while your newsletter drives traffic back to your blog. Social media helps you amplify the whole message.
New to content marketing? Check out our glossary of common content marketing terms.