When you hear the word “newsletter,” what’s the first image that comes to your mind? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably not something that’s very exciting or dynamic.

Across the wide spectrum of different marketing tools available today, newsletters fall to the far end of “non-sexy.” After all, haven’t the Internet and social media made newsletters pretty much obsolete?

The answer is a resounding “No!” Despite their non-sexy nature, newsletters remain one of the most effective marketing tools out there. In fact, one recent survey found that newsletters are one of the top three marketing tools used by B2B content marketers today.

Speaking From Experience

When it comes to newsletters, I speak from experience, having spent most of my career in the newsletter publishing world. My first job out of college 30 years ago was with a newsletter publishing company that created newsletters primarily for the financial services and healthcare industries. Of course, this was pre-Internet, so today’s ubiquitous electronic newsletters wouldn’t come onto the scene for another decade or so.

I originally viewed this job as a short-term stepping stone into a more exciting and “glamorous” marketing or advertising job. But I ended up staying at the company for a dozen years, and subsequently worked for two more publishers that specialized in newsletters. During all this time, I learned a tremendous amount about how to use newsletters as an effective marketing tool.

And no, the effectiveness of newsletters, whether print or electronic, has not been diminished by the rise of social media. Forbes recently published an interesting article that compared newsletters and social media as marketing tools. It pointed out that when companies market using Facebook, for example, they are effectively handing control of this marketing tool over to someone else.

“Imagine if the marketing budgets for the Facebook Pages had been spent on bringing the audience to a property that was under the complete control of a brand,” the article says. “It might seem old-fashioned in a world of social media and user-created content indexes, but if these consumers had signed up to an email newsletter a year ago, the brand would still have that direct one-to-one relationship today. There would be no reliance on a mysterious traffic algorithm showing the content, and no extra budget would have to be spent to promote the message to try to get it read.”

With a newsletter, you own your mailing list — again, whether print or electronic — and you control the distribution of your message to readers with no middleman (e.g., Facebook). And your newsletter will remain in you readers’ inboxes or on their desks until they read or discard it, while social media messages quickly vanish in the sea of constantly changing and updated posts.

Use Them Together

Of course, using newsletters and social media as marketing tools doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. B2B marketer Elevate recently published an article explaining how linking social media with an e-newsletter creates a “best of all worlds” approach to electronic marketing. “The combination of email and social together is more powerful than either independently,” it says.

This is primarily due to the fact that social media can be used to share the content in your e-newsletter. “You can’t assume your marquee article is going to be read if you only include it in your monthly newsletter,” says the Elevate article. “However, if you share that article on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, the odds of reaching your audience are improving.”

That’s exactly what I do with this newsletter. Constant Contact makes it easy to share e-newsletters via your social media sites with its “Social Share” Button: Just check the box next to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and your newsletter will automatically be shared on these sites (assuming you are active on them) as soon as you publish it.

Killing Four Birds

In addition to using social media to share your newsletters, you should also sync up your newsletter and your blog. By “sync up” I mean use the same piece of content for both your newsletter and your blog.

I started doing this two years ago when I built my new WordPress website. Up until then, there was no place where I could create an archive of my past newsletter issues. By posting my newsletter article as a blog on my website, I killed three birds with one stone: I created an e-newsletter and a blog and I had a place where all of my newsletters/blogs could reside in an online archive.

By the way, this also helps boost my search engine optimization (SEO) rankings — so make that four birds!

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