Do blogs make e-newsletters obsolete?

Obsolete Here's the question.  Now that we have blogs, should we still have e-newsletters? 

My friend Dawud Miracle raised the question and paints a picture that suggests that e-newsletters are really thinly veiled tricks to capture e-mail addresses and sell products.  Blogs on the other hand, according to his initial post, are less intrusive and give the reader more control.  He's generated quite an interesting collection of responses.

Here's mine.

With all due respect, who died and made us King? That is so 1980’s.  We are not in charge anymore.  The consumer is.

My agency has had a e-newsletter since 1999 and we have thousands of subscribers.  They seem to like it.

I have had a blog for less than a year. Have a good number of subscribers but certainly not the thousands that the e-newsletter has. The blog subscribers seem to like it.

Some of the e-newsletter subscribers have opted to also sign up for the blog and visa versa. (I try not to use the same content).

If we have learned anything in this era of citizen marketing — we don’t get to decide. We offer up value in a variety of media and let the consumer choose which option works for them.

And if we think that e-newsletters are more sales driven — we are crazy. I have seen blatant blog posts that practically begged for work. I’m not saying that is bad…but I saying we are deluding ourselves to think of one as a sales tool and the other as an educational vehicle. Both…can be both.

As long as we have subscribers to either vehicle, I will keep writing them. 

So what do you think?  Are they mutually exclusive tools?  Does one replace the other?  Is one medium more geared towards a sales pitch?

Do we or should we choose for our readers/prospects/customers?

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14 comments on “Do blogs make e-newsletters obsolete?

  1. Travis says:

    I personally can’t stand e-newsletters anymore. It’s so much more unobtrusive to have Safari tell me when a blog I’ve subscribed to has been updated. I can view it at my convenience, and there’s not really a chance it will get lost in a mailbox full of email.

    However, many people I know don’t know how to track an RSS feed yet. RS-what? Once newsreaders and RSS tracking within browsers becomes more common, I would love to see the e-newsletter become obsolete. But until my mom knows what an RSS feed is, I’ll keep doing both.

  2. Patrick says:

    I personally use my e-mail program as a “to-do list” and if things are too busy I will delete newsletters first and have even unsubsribe from e-mail newsletters in favor of rss feeds. As I techie I tolderate RSS but if I didn’t have to use a newsreader I wouldn’t Newer e-mail programs like Thuderbird, the new Mail program coming out in Leopard (OSX 10.5) and I think Outlook 2007 has support for RSS feeds. However e-mail programs also has support for newsgroups to for a long time. I’d prefer to see was way for RSS to be encapsulated into e-mail.

    Services like Feedburner give the option for receiving blog posts in via e-mail instead. Why not create a seperate “blog” where you post something “newsletter style” and another blog conversation style.

    Another thing to remember is just because blogging started as a way to post a diary of sorts doesn’t mean you have to use blogging software to be restricted to that style. You can use RSS feeds for calendar updates, press releases, etc.

  3. Travis,

    I definitely think there are pluses and minuses to both executions. And of course, much of it depends on your audience.

    One thing I do like about e-newsletters is that I can archive them and refer back to them. And with a couple that I think are really well written — I do.

    I agree with you that not enough people are blogging yet . But even if they are — why would we limit their choices if both vehicles are relatively inexpensive?

    Drew

  4. Patrick,

    You make some good points. I suspect many things will change as RSS feeds and how we access them becomes more mainstream.

    Do you find your clients are still doing or wanting to do e-newsletters?

    Drew

  5. Lewis Green says:

    Drew,

    I’m with you. The reason we communicate using different tools has nothing to do with content, sales or otherwise. It has to do with readers wanting choice and letting them decide not only what they want to read but in what medium they want to read it.

  6. Brad Shorr says:

    Several of my clients have newsletters and report excellent results. One compelling reason they continue to use them is because their customers don’t read blogs. Hard to argue with that! I agree with you and the commenters that RSS feeds will become more mainstream, making it more attractive for newsletter subscribers to start experimenting with blogs. Once that happens, I think a good many newsletter holdouts will come to prefer blogs for news and information.

  7. Travis says:

    Drew, I agree 100%. I was just stating that my personal preference is the blog. Because of that, I wish all email newsletters were available as blogs, so I wouldn’t have to have e-newsletters coming in and cluttering up my inbox. It’s a preference.

    It’s easy enough to do both, but that goes both ways. If it’s easy enough for a blogger to email it as a e-newsletter, it’s easy enough for an e-newsletter to be posted as a blog, too. That way we’d all have our choice.

    But, as soon as that happens, there will be something even better come along, anyway. 🙂

  8. Jonathan says:

    I think that people have a greater familiarity with e-newsletters than blogs simply because they have been around longer. Drew, you yourself said that your e-newsletter strategy started in 1996 and you just started blogging under a year ago.

    I believe that as the e-newsletter world gets more comfortable with the blogging stuff, they will see the double value of a blog as both a “real-time” communication tool as well as a distribution and syndication it provides. I think that a blog can double for an e-newsletter in terms of sending out information updates. It will simply lack the pretty html formatting of a professional e-newsletter, unless you subscribe to the more expensive FeedBlitz service that allows you to send blog updates with a custom email template.

  9. Personally I don’t think blogs make newsletters obsolete, we all consumer information in different ways, I mean newspaper are still around even though more and more companies are moving to the Internet. One thing that I think a lot of companies miss is that if they never had a newsletter due to time, why do they think they can be effective with a blog?

  10. Lewis,

    I think over time a company shows their hand. If they are tricksters or sleazy…they will be that way in all mediums.

    Do you think blogs will someday, as they become mainstream, will push e-newsletters aside?

    Drew

  11. Brad,

    Are there any common denominators among the newsletters that your clients produce? What makes them successful, in your opinion?

    Do they blog as well, or is the e-newsletter it?

    Would the same principles make for successful blog posts?

    Drew

  12. Travis,

    I have been thinking the same thing. What will be the *new* media that knocks both blogging and e-newsletters aside? And when will it show up?

    Drew

  13. Jonathan,

    No doubt about it — one of the huge benefits of the blog over an e-newsletter is the conversation. The reader extends the value offered and is happy to do so.

    I think it many ways, the blog is the best of both worlds. IF…the reader is open to the format. That’s why I think the e-newsletter will be around for awhile. People stick with what they are comfortable with.

    Drew

  14. Dave,

    Touche on that one! Anyone who thinks a blog is less time consuming than a weekly or monthly or quarterly newsletter is fooling themselves.

    Even though the articles are shorter…they come more frequently and people talk back!

    Drew

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