The newsletter: for many years, a go-to technique for marketing teams. However, a casual look at the most successful brands will quickly show that this form of communication with the customer is rarely seen in this day and age. This is by no means a coincidence; the research available to them through their deep pockets and extensive resources has shown what all marketers worth their salt are now aware of – newsletters are among the worst forms of email marketing.
Newsletters were initially utilized for internal communication within an organization, be it a company, church, recreational club, or any other such grouping of individuals. These types of bulletins proved useful in that they kept an organization’s members abreast of new developments and could be used to boost morale.
As technology progressed and the internet became ubiquitous, it was assumed that this very technique could be used through email for marketing purposes. And it was used for many years – that is, until reliable analytics came into play and revealed the fact that marketing newsletters were not only ineffective, they could actually hurt a brand’s sales and customer relations. An analysis of the newsletter clearly explains why.
Lack of Relevance
The ‘old school’ print newsletter would often consist of a single page as there were only a couple topics to cover. As such a scant amount of information would look ridiculous in an email, marketing newsletters became lengthy, bloated communique. As a result, much of the information therein will be irrelevant to most readers. Eventually, every customer will have received a number of newsletters that hold no relevance to them. Just like that, your newsletter will have found itself in the junk folder and your brand scrubbed from the customer’s mind.
To compete in today’s market, it is essential to accurately target the right demographic and provide the individuals therein with a focussed message that will appeal to them. It’s simply impossible to achieve this with a newsletter – in addition to being generic, they are transparent as a sales tactic as opposed to a valuable offering that helps the customer in some way.
Due to the aforementioned generic nature of a newsletter as it tries to be ‘everything to everyone,’ the resulting content is extremely weak. With a focussed message, you can delve into a topic as it is the sole raison d’etre of the communication. Technical content and examples can be included and will hold the reader’s attention since the topic is one they’re interested. A newsletter must be far more general, but this very attempt to avoid excluding readers ends up causing a drab email that is uninteresting to everyone.
Ease of Opt-Out
Legally, you must provide a simple and clearly worded opt-out clause in any subscription type communication such as a newsletter. As its lack of value becomes clear, readers will quickly search out and use this option. Conversely, an informative blog strategically advertised through social media posts and the like allows you to continuously reach out to customers, even in the event of a misstep.
Painting a Negative Picture of Your Brand
The negative results of a newsletter aren’t confined to the emails themselves. Readers will assume that any content coming from your organization is equally useless. As a result, your social media presences, blogs, and other content will be ignored by potential customers regardless of their merit. In the worst case scenario, your newsletter’s readers will avoid your brand altogether and advise others to do the same.
Newsletters Have Become Synonymous with Junk Mail
Due to the overwhelming majority of newsletters having little to no value, the very term immediately makes a reader consider the communication to be junk. In the unlikely event you have crafted a newsletter that provides valuable content and would be embraced by customers, packaging it as such almost guarantees it will not be read – or if it is, will not be appreciated in the same way as if it was offered via another medium.
Sustainability Is Impossible
All email newsletters are subject to the above shortcomings. However, even the ‘best of the worst’ will find it impossible to maintain even the lesser standard that they are operating on. When offering a newsletter, you must stick to the advertised schedule (monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc.). Especially in smaller organizations, it becomes a chore to find new content to offer that fits the tone of a newsletter. The already mediocre content will steadily drop in quality – a change that will not go unnoticed by the reader. Again, your brand’s image will suffer.