What's the Difference Between Email Marketing and a Newsletter?
Is Email Marketing the Same as Email Newsletters?
No! However, an email newsletter can be part of an overall email marketing strategy. Email marketing refers to messages and advertisements sent to subscribers with the intent of making a sale, either immediately or in the future. While email newsletters may have the same ultimate goal of making sales, their function is primarily informative. Businesses can use either or both.
"Old Fashioned" Email Newsletters
Back when email marketing was new, people tried to make older marketing methods fit into this new medium. One of those methods was newsletters.
In years past, print snail mail newsletters were a mix of news items and "filler" such as quotable quotes, cartoons, word puzzles, word of the day, recipes... things that could have related to the business or were just entertaining. The intent was to keep the business' name in front of their target audience in a friendly, non-sales manner. They worked, at least until print and mailing costs rose and new technologies arrived. Some marketers still use these physical mailers, in spite of the cost.
If they had been successful with postal mailed newsletters, marketers often would simply plop all of the usual material they'd put in a print newsletter into an email broadcast version of it. If that material was desired by their subscribers, then that made for an easy transition to a new technology.
However, people usually want to read through an email quickly, making all the filler fluff a nuisance. Example: Just the other day, I got an old fashioned-style newsletter by email that was filled with filler. I had to scroll through about four screens to get to the featured article. Then I had to click a link to read the rest of the article on the sender's website. What a waste of my time!
Other marketers unwilling to let go of their old style print newsletters would just attach a PDF file of the print version to a broadcast email. I don't know what's worse: Having to scroll through a bloated email or having to download and read a PDF. And here's what can make a PDF attachment worse than the filler-filled email: It's not mobile friendly. More and more people are reading their email on mobile devices. Having to download a PDF that requires pinching and stretching to read on a small screen is a mobile marketing no-no!
Newsletters Should Be News
Even the word "newsletter" has "news" in it. And a newsletter should have news in it, too! In my inbox, I receive a number of email newsletters that are genuine news, making them must-read messages for me. No filler, just news and information about issues and people I care about.
So can a newsy newsletter be marketing? Newsletters, whether offline or online, are a content marketing and inbound marketing play. While both email newsletters and marketing messages may include calls to action—or calls to click!—the goal for email newsletters is engagement, while the goal for email marketing is sales.
The goal for email newsletters is engagement, while the goal for email marketing is sales.— Heidi Thorne
Email Marketing's One Goal
The material in an email marketing message is of a very different variety than a newsletter. A marketing email will discuss features and benefits of a product or service, pricing, or make special offers. Getting subscribers to make a purchase, or at least connect to get more information about buying, is the goal of any call to action.
One mistake that many marketers make is putting too many calls to action in one marketing email. They're just hoping that the subscriber will buy something... anything! This is actually counterproductive. As with all offerings of too many choices, this can result in buying nothing.
So limiting a marketing email to one goal—a call to action to enter a sales funnel—makes it more clear for the buyer and more measurable for the marketer.
Should You Do Both?
Many businesses do both email newsletter and email marketing broadcasts. In fact, that can be a winning strategy! However, the goals of these two efforts should not be mixed. When a newsletter becomes too sales oriented, subscribers learn to classify the marketers' messages as disguised sales pitches.
How Often Should Emails Be Sent?
Setting an expectation for message frequency when subscribers opt in (i.e., "subscribe to our weekly email newsletter") to a list can help increase message opens and decrease unsubscribes. But is there an ideal frequency for newsletters and marketing emails?
Newsletters. Some email newsletters are sent daily in very active markets, while others with less urgent issues or slower activity may choose a weekly or monthly schedule. It depends on how often news or updates occur, subscriber desire for frequent updates, and if the marketer has the time, talent, and resources needed to create a newsletter at the desired frequency.
Marketing Emails. Unless subscribers are looking for a daily deal offer, daily marketing emails can be overwhelming and annoying. (I get a slew of these daily offers that are immediately sent to my electronic trash without being opened.) A weekly marketing email is usually tolerated by subscribers.
Though too frequent of email contact is annoying, be aware that the less frequent an email is sent, subscribers can easily forget they ever signed up for it and then unsubscribe. Monitoring opens, clicks and unsubscribes can help provide insight into changes that might need to be made to emailing frequency for either type of message.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2017 Heidi Thorne