You have heard them
“Build a list”
“The profit is in the list”
“It’s all about the list”
Most people who have read up on internet marketing will have come across this idea.
But then blogs, or rather RSS, came on the scene and confused the issue. Several people have asked me if they should close their email newsletters now they are blogging. Should you build an email list or a blog?
Let’s first compare the two:
|Delivery problems||No delivery problems|
|Membership is portable||Hard to move membership|
|Mature tracking/ROI||Minimal stats ability|
|Fear of spam||No fear|
|Easy & Well Understood||Still quite niche|
|Everyone has email||Minority|
|In your face||Passive|
I could go on but you get the picture. You notice I didn’t put these as “pro and con” – most could be seen both ways. For example, the last one “in your face”. This could be a good or bad thing, it’s good that blogs are passive but if you really really want your message read you might hanker for some in your face once in a while!
So which should you choose? Both.
Provide at least the option for people to subscribe to your blog via email or RSS. FeedBurner provides the facility to do both so it’s a no-brainer. Therefore your standard blog posts are read by whatever method your audience prefers. They know best, don’t force people down one route.
Now the question is, in addition ought you have an email newsletter that is not just replicating your blog posts? This is something I have tried and been thinking about a lot recently.
A while ago I had a weekly newsletter that contained unique information not found on my blog. While it started working well after a few issues the additional workload meant I had to close it. My feeling is had I persisted it would have worked very well.
When people see a value in what you are offering over email and know what to expect then they will trust you with their email addresses. Emails are still a very valuable piece of permission. The commitment to an email subscription is still greater than the permission granted by an RSS subscription, after all you don’t know who you have subscribing via RSS but you know a piece of personal information when you acquire a subscribers email address. They are trusting you not to spam them so you had better reward that trust. RSS readers on the other hand are at the bottom of the loyalty ladder just above those who read your blog in their web browser.
If you are interested in building an email list today I received an email from a newsletter I am on offering free video tutorials for how to build a successful opt-in email newsletter. You can sign up to view the free videos here.
The strategy I would take is for the blog to be mainstream stuff and choose a well-defined purpose for any additional email lists. Perhaps have a defined end-point or life-span also. At the end of this duration you could always offer the option to sign up to your standard FeedBurner subscription email digest.
I would very much like to hear from anyone who has confronted this decision, anyone who has chosen to do one or the other, or both, and how it is working out for you? Let me know in the comments …