Well, you might not believe it.
But the elfin, Australian, TV-star-turned-singer Natalie Imbruglia and tall, British, non-TV-star, non-singer me have something in common...
Sometimes, we both feel torn.
(If you're a nineties music fan - like me...! - go ahead and watch the video for her song with that title! It's bloody catchy, to be honest with you...)
Anyway, one of the things that I sometimes feel torn about as a business owner is email newsletters.
Because WOW -- is there a lot of conflicting advice out there about them.
On the one hand, there are lots of digital marketing peeps loudly telling anyone who’ll listen that social media ads, affiliates, and email funnels are all you *really* need to rake in hefty amounts of cash from whatever it is you're selling.
On the other hand, there’s a group of entrepreneurs who identify email newsletters as the backbone to their own multimillion-dollar success. (Though those folks also often sell paid courses teaching you how to grow your mailing list ...)
So who's right? Do you need an email newsletter?
Well, let's break it down.
The pros and cons of email newsletters
The no-newsletter, all-ads-and-affiliates approach
- Saves you lots of time because you're not obsessing over writing a newsletter each week.
- Also saves you time because you can build your list faster than if you try to do it via content marketing alone.
- Once you're confident that the ad and your email funnel work, it's fairly low-maintenance to just keep running the ads (though maybe you'll ultimately hire someone to handle it for you...).
- If you use affiliates, you can benefit from someone else's know-like-trust factor with their list to quickly bring in leads, mailing list subscribers and sales for yourself.
- Those ads can get EXPENSIVE, fast.
- Facebook etc. can get weird and block your ads, crash, burn through your budget too quickly, and generally be unreliable, thereby hampering your growth.
- If you don't know what you're doing with your landing page, ad targeting, email funnel or sales page, you can waste a LOT of money, because the ads still won't generate sales for you. You need *every piece* of the puzzle to be working in tandem in order for them to convert optimally, which might involve hiring copywriters, designers, ad managers etc. to help you... meaning even more expenses!
- Once you stop running an ad, it doesn't benefit you at all any more -- in contrast to a years-old blog post that could just be sitting there on your website but still drawing clicks and subscribers.
- You usually have to pay affiliates 30-50% of any sales you make, and setting everything up, recruiting them, and supplying them with copy and content etc. can be time-consuming.
The pro-newsletter approach
- It can honestly get pretty time-consuming. Basically, if you email your list often, you're giving up a chunk of your time on a regular basis to perform an activity that may take months or even years to convert a subscriber into a client (or potentially NEVER bring in a conversion).
- It can sometimes feel like you're giving away your best stuff for free, without necessarily seeing results or revenue from your newsletters.
- Writing is stressful for lots of business owners -- as is emailing hundreds of people with the click of a button! -- so it can kinda feel like you're regularly torturing yourself, if that's how you feel about it.
- Email lists are rarely a totally FREE option. Most mailing list providers charge a monthly fee, you could end up paying someone to help you edit your newsletter, and you're replacing time when you could be working with clients (or chilling out!) with time drafting emails instead.
- Everyone says to batch-write your newsletters -- but not many of us are organized enough to do that! Cue more solopreneur guilt, teeth-gnashing, self-flagellation etc...
- It's supposedly 3-5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. So once someone's bought from you or shown an interest in what you do, it's definitely worth your while to stay in touch with them (ESPECIALLY if they became a subscriber of yours because you spent money on an ad to attract them!!!!)
- If you have an email list of hundreds or thousands of people who already know, like, and trust you, you can often sell to them with very little preamble. Once you've got a big-enough, warmed-up list, you may not even need a fancy sales page or email funnel to encourage people to buy your latest offering, because they're already basically sold on your awesomeness and the value you provide.
- Your list can be a resource for things other than just selling. You can ask them questions, poll or survey them to conduct market research, ask them to like or share an article you wrote, have them become your social media followers etc.... They can be your cheerleaders and community -- and you theirs.
- By forcing yourself to write to your list regularly (even if you hate writing!), you'll gradually get better and quicker at writing. You can also recycle content from your newsletters and turn it into social media posts and blog articles, saving you some time in your other marketing efforts.
- Even if you ultimately end up paying a copywriter like me to edit/create your email newsletters for you, you'll still need to think of ways that you can contribute to debates, discuss issues in your industry, and share stories in your emails. This will help you to gradually position yourself as a thought leader and authority, enabling you to make a powerful mental shift from content consumer to content creator.
So basically... neither strategy is perfect, and marketing is always going to cost you something -- whether it's time or money!
Essentially, then, the answer to "do you need an email newsletter?" is: "it's really up to you"!
But you can always strike a balance by using a mixture of both techniques.
And if you DO decide to start or keep going with an email newsletter (I'm sticking with mine, despite all the loud warnings from certain other entrepreneurs!), here are some tips to make the process of creating your emails easier.
email newsletter tips
- Have just ONE goal or micro-conversion per newsletter (e.g. getting your readers to reply to you). Decide what it's going to be, then draft your message so it's structured around achieving that goal.
- Take the pressure off yourself. Though I've talked constantly about email "newsletters" here, you don't actually need to share any news in your email. Tell a story. Give a quick tip. Your messages don't have to be epic.
- You don't have to email your list once a week. Try once every other week, instead. Or even once a month. Just pick something you can be consistent with and that doesn't stress you out.
- Remember that "providing value" doesn't always have to involve giving advice. You can share an entertaining personal anecdote, or empathize with something your audience is going through. Mix it up, and don't be afraid to experiment!
So what's your verdict on email newsletters?
Which kind of newsletters do you prefer to read? What do you prefer to send? And why?
Leave a comment to let me know!
(And be sure to download my free cheat sheet on the 4 P's of Personality-Packed Copy, for four easy ways to write emails your readers adore!)