For about the past two years, I’ve had an email newsletter that I send out, oh…quarterly. It usually has some basic information about what’s coming up for me in the next few months, or what I’ve been doing that’s exciting (for me, at least!). Then I add a few links to posts I think might interest readers, and I send it out. I use Constant Contact, and I’ve been more than happy with their templates and the way they store and let me update my mailing list–either manually, or through my blog/website.
I am, however, considering whether to keep the newsletter going. I’m going to summarize my thoughts about why and then follow up with a few questions for you to, hopefully, get your take on things. I’d love–as usual–to hear from writers who get newsletters and writers/readers who receive them (or work very hard not to).
A few years ago, I think email newsletters were the best, if not the only, way to reach readers directly–at their inboxes. Then along came Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads and all the other social networking sites. Facebook sends me a note–to that inbox–when anyone contacts me in any way on their site, and with Tweetdeck, it’s easy for me to see if anyone’s trying to get in touch with me directly out on Twitter. I get messages from Goodreads for updated booklists, and I get Google Alerts that let me know when I, or my book, am mentioned pretty much anywhere. (Okay, not yet on Mars, but I’m sure that’s just a few years away.)
The other thing that these sites all do is make it incredibly easy for me to get information out. I know there are all sorts of questions about how easy it is to social network, about the best way to tweet effectively or to use a Fan page on Facebook, but in actual time, there’s just no comparison between typing in 144 characters on Twitter and setting up the next newsletter to be delivered.
I don’t have a huge mailing list for my newsletter. In real marketing terms, it’s probably considered almost infinitesimal. And I know that when I send it out, at least a few people are reading it–because I can see when they’ve clicked over to my blog to check out some of those posts I’ve linked to. But…if I’m going to use this list to any purpose (if that’s still truly possible), then the list has to grow. Which means I have to solicit (nicely) people at workshops and conferences and do something else (ideas?) to get its numbers to increase. These tasks are feeling like they’re hitting the side of the scale I call “Not my comfort zone and possibly not worth my time & energy.”
What do you think? Where are newsletters falling these days in the marketing world, in terms of popularity and effectiveness? If you send out a newsletter, how are you feeling about it? I’d love to hear what you include, how often you send it out, and whether (and why) you feel it’s a useful marketing tool. If you don’t send a newsletter, do you still keep a mailing list and how do you use it? If you’re a reader of newsletters…why? 🙂 What is it you like about them and what makes you sign up for one and keep reading it when it comes? And if you’re someone who does whatever possible to avoid getting a newsletter, please share that, too.
Thanks again, all, for letting me pick your brains and poll your thoughts! And a happy, productive week to you all, this Monday!