When Instagram and Facebook went down for a few hours last week, I was mildly annoyed. I had just written and published a blog post for a client, and I couldn’t access Facebook to schedule the post for distribution. But that was it: I felt mild annoyance. And to be honest, my productivity probably increased that afternoon.
When I saw both platforms were down, I had two thoughts.
My first thought: those Instagram brand influencers must be shaking in their $900 Christian Louboutin premium leather, round toe booties.
My second thought: This is why you don’t build a network or community completely reliant on someone else’s platform.
The great Instagram and Facebook outage of 2019 may not end up being a memorable moment in history (you probably already forgot about it), but I walked away from it with my beliefs about email newsletters reaffirmed.
Email Newsletters are Not Dead: They Never Were.
A few years ago, I started hearing people declare that email newsletters were dead. I don’t know who first officially said it, but I get why it took off as a phrase. The average person gets 187 emails every day in their inbox. I totally made that stat up, but it feels accurate, right? We are inundated with email. The assumption by most people making this statement was that your monthly newsletter was clogging up customers or clients’ inboxes, and they’d never read it, so why bother sending?
There are several reasons why that line of thinking is flawed.
I once sat in a meeting with a room of attorneys and pitched the idea that a monthly communication (I didn’t even call it a newsletter for fear of immediate backlash) would be a worthwhile addition to the group’s marketing efforts. The backlash was still immediate. They shot it down right away, stating they didn’t want to bother their clients, everyone hates newsletters, it would take so much work, and on and on. The discussion moved on, but I silently stewed because they didn’t hear or understand the why behind my suggestion.
Part of the problem is that we think of newsletters as dated communications that vaguely resemble the front page of a newspaper from 1995. They are jumbled with text and have a sidebar that talks about news at the company, which amounts to nothing more than a brag section about the business and its professionals.
For those newsletters, yeah, don’t send them. They aren’t going to generate much interest.
The kind of newsletter I am talking about is chock-full of useful content for the people who are into your business enough to sign up for a newsletter.
Because that’s the thing. When someone nowadays gives a company their email address, they full well know an email of some kind is coming from that company. If a person willingly subscribes to a newsletter, chances are good that they dig your content, so give them what they want.
The Content They Want
If you’ve got an editorial calendar and are regularly churning out new content or updating and repurposing old content, coming up with newsletter content is a breeze. (If you don’t have a content calendar, start there. I know a thing or two about creating content calendars.)
Aside from maybe a summary section about the content in the newsletter, you aren’t putting new content here. This is the best place to showcase what you’ve already done. Package it up in an easy to read format and send it out.
I willingly signed up for daily emails from Marketing Profs and HubSpot years ago. I have yet to unsubscribe from them because the things that are in their newsletters are the things I care about and am interested in. Usually, they contain lots of links to content that already exist on their site, but it’s content I care about. I don’t go to HubSpot’s site on the daily to see what new thing they’ve published, so when those new things show up in my inbox, I’m jazzed. I don’t immediately start scanning for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
The content is useful and laid out in a way that makes it easy to read and pick out the topics I care about. I don’t read everything but will usually click on at least one link.
You Are In Control
But the biggest reason newsletters are not and never will be dead: They put you in control of your messaging. Unless you want to pay for sponsored posts and ads up the wazoo, there’s a chance that a good percentage of people won’t see your post in their social media feeds.
I think there’s a worry sometimes that if you include something in a newsletter that you’ve already shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, that it’s overkill to put it in your newsletter. Not true. In fact, if you’ve only shared it on social media, it should definitely go in your newsletter.
Social media algorithms are what they are. It’s impossible to ensure that all of your followers see your content the day you post it. (Don’t get me started on why LinkedIn would rather serve me up a post from three weeks ago that I’ve already seen over a piece of content someone posted five minutes ago. IT MAKES NO SENSE.)
By including that already shared piece of content in your newsletter, you’re making sure that the people who care most about your content have seen it. You’re sending it, not letting some third party decide if and when to make it appear in your followers’ feeds.
Plus, there have been plenty of times when I’ve seen a post on my Facebook feed, forgot to click on it, and am delighted when it shows up in my inbox. Give your people as many options to read and share your content as you can. They will not fault you for it.
People Don’t Step Away from Their Email
There is another reason it doesn’t matter if you’ve already posted something to social media. People take social media breaks– often declaring so on social media. We get sick of Twitter wars. We cannot stand all of the political posts on Facebook. We hate the extreme FOMO we get when we check Instagram, so we take a step back from social media and regroup. With good reason. I am a marketer who is all for the occasional, necessary social media break.
But do you know what people don’t step away from? Their email. Even while they’re on vacation.
Email is a constant in our lives because it needs to be. We get so many important communications via email now that stepping away from email for an extended period of time is not an option. By not sending a newsletter, you’re missing out on the most reliable form of communication at your disposal.
But What If They Don’t Open Your Emails? It Doesn’t Matter.
I was listening to a course on CreativeLive years ago that was taught by Ilise Benun. The course included a section on Ilise’s Top Five Marketing Tools. Number five was the email newsletter. She said something about newsletters that struck me immediately as well as gave me permission not to be as obsessed with open rates.
Her message: Simply having your name appear in someone’s inbox keeps you top of mind. And that’s never a bad thing. So even if your client doesn’t open what you send, the fact that they’ve seen your name might spur them to call you about that thing they’ve been meaning to call you about. Your newsletter is one guaranteed way to help you stay top of mind, so why not use it?
Have I convinced you that you need to start or restart your newsletter? Great. Not sure what to put in it? Stay tuned. Coming up, I’ll talk about the best way to structure and create an easy-to-maintain newsletter. You don’t need to recreate the wheel every month. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Like this blog post? This is the kind of content I link to in my emails. Want to get the occasional email from yours truly? Sign up here.