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Are E-Newsletter An E-Myth?

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For years, the customer newsletter has been the centerpiece for customer retention for contractors. Aside from a personal visit, no communication tool has been able to better build or maintain solid relationships with customers.

The Rise, Fall, and Comeback

Back in the marketing stone-age, around 2003, everyone was yapping that email would soon take over the world. It was cheap, fast, scalable, and effective; what’s not to like?

So, everyone sent e-mails to build, replace, or supplement their existing marketing. Yet, their novelty meant that readership was high and so were results. Soon their novelty wore off , and effectiveness slid. People were resistant to overloaded inboxes, plus multiple screens of copy triggered deletes.

As a result, email marketers shifted to: shorter copy, more graphics, interactive links, and the e-newsletter was born. Their popularity soared. As in all cycles, resistance was destined to repeat. Too many marketers used their e-newsletters as a selling tool, forgetting the “news” in newsletter.

Out came the spam filters and threats of server shut downs. Plus, the legal requirement to offer “unsubscribes” resulted in exactly that. With these hurdles, legitimate marketers could no longer send to a purchased list hoping for results. Soon the “double opt-in” and promises to “never rent or sell your name” became commonplace.

The Wild-West Days of email marketing were officially over. Or was it?

Is Anyone Home?

All during this, the sturdy and reliable print newsletter had enjoyed long-standing success, though things were changing. Those who looked at money and time began siding with the e-newsletter. When compared to the price, an e-newsletter was the hands-down winner. Same with the lead time to get a printed newsletter out versus its e-cousin.

With only surface facts, short-sighted marketers abandoned print in favor of the quick and cheap aspects of email, only to find:

  1. Readership of e-newsletters only averaged 20-22%
  2. Deletes were undetectable
  3. Address changes were unforwarded
  4. Unsubscribes rose
  5. Spam filters
  6. Threat of server shutdowns

The Market Speaks

Customers want concise, value-driven content that doesn’t shove a sale or the company’s greatness down their throat. They want a relationship with a home expert. Yet “how” do they want it delivered?

We’re now reaching medium equilibrium. The pendulum has swung back from “email or postage” to become email plus postage. Online and offline are no longer rivals, but partners.

The Ideal Choice, (plus cool tips)

Due to the negatives mentioned, you should not attempt to completely replace your mailed newsletter with an ezine or e-only correspondence. Many online retailers have had abysmal results following the lure of “cheap and fast.” J.Crew saw revenues plummet when they moved their postal mailings to email only.

The ideal customer relationship program should have both a mailed newsletter and e-newsletter. The e-newsletter can be more frequent and your mailed version each quarter.


TIP 1 Post a simple “Info Capture” box on your site to receive your mailed newsletter. That link opens an email that will come to your office. Of course, this means you’ll have BOTH the email and mailing address. This is called “Info Capture” and any contractor NOT using this is being severely misled.

TIP 2 Let your mailed version be the foundation. It will be at least 4 pages long. The email version will be far shorter, and can simply use the mailed version content “repurposed” for the e-version. This means one source of content for both versions.

TIP 3 As e-newsletters mature, the best choice for them is to send a short “baited” email that teases the recipient with bullets about the articles and value of the e-newsletter that links them to your site.

This tip drives readership (since your site offers a full screen and graphics instead of email viewer pane), plus this rather valuable benefit: Free organic SEO. When your invitation goes out with links back to your site, each click is counted as a visitor, which drives your activity and relevance higher among the search engines.

In The End

Customers today have more distractions than ever. If you forget about them, they’ll forget about you. Stay in touch with your customers, online AND offline.

Adams Hudson

Posted In: ACCA Now, Sales & Marketing, Technology

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