From time to time, I am given questions to answer in regards to websites and email newsletters. In this article, I will give my answer in depth, looking at small business marketing, communication, and basic automation.
Should I focus on an email newsletter OR posting articles to a small business blog/website?
An excellent question. For most small businesses, in the midst of the rapid changes in digital marketing, it isn’t clear on where your communication should originate. To answer your question, I would recommend using both the email newsletter AND the blog/website post. These tools can work in tandem for your marketing and communication efforts.
Can you imagine being able to click a button and all of your publishing tasks be complete!?
It can be done and it is awesome when it works smoothly. Let’s walk through it:
Perfecting The Process
Using the same approach to accomplish two tasks.
The behavior of sending an email newsletter and creating a website post are very similar, so similar the process can be identical. Essentially, you are creating content for your customers and prospects to consume.
Start by planning out your content with an outline, production schedule, and a task list for the requirements to complete the content. Make your plan thorough.
Begin preparing your content by writing, creating graphics, photography, recording audio and/or video, etc. Use your plan to guide you through production.
Publish your content according to a schedule. Publishing may include additional tasks, such as sending emails, sharing on social media, posting to forums, and more.
In either case, you have to plan, prepare, and publish the content. Once you become comfortable with the process for publishing on one, adding the other becomes a non-issue, especially when you can take advantage of automated processes.
You also gain the benefits of dual media types for the content…
Dual Media Types
Why not both?
Not everyone likes to visit websites and not everyone likes to read emails. However, you certainly can’t satisfy all of your customers and prospects communication preferences by using only one method or media type. By using multiple media types, you increase the reach, penetration, and overall engagement of your content.
Higher engagement and use of your content means higher relevancy and value to your customers and prospects as well. All of these parameters can be measured and quantified, so using both a website and email newsletter to serve the same content can show you more detail and insight into what your customers and prospects want and need.
Yes, you can associate engagement with how much value you deliver. More perceived value can manifest in some truly awesome ways…
Visibility, Value, And Convenience
More, More, and yes… More!
Sticking with email alone can result in high engagement, but it falls off immediately after viewing the email. It is also clunky attempting to get older email content to new people, unless you resend the same email. You could certainly solve this issue with some sophisticated automation, but taking this approach is only valuable IF you do not want the content to be available on a website ever.
“Don’t waste your content just on email when it can work for you, 24/7, on a website.”
It makes more sense, more value and worth your valuable time to have that content appear as evergreen content in a website post along with an email newsletter going out. Don’t waste your content just on email when it can work for you, 24/7, on a website.
Not only will it be more visible and accessible on the website, but it will ultimately be more convenient for you to share with new customers and prospects in the future. Sharing a link to the post on the website versus having to resend the same email newsletter – can you imagine the trouble of trying to scale these tasks??? Links are easy, so use them.
Linking to content on your website from an email newsletter, now that’s an idea!
Website Traffic Generation
Traffic has to come from somewhere.
Email newsletters can be used as a touch point and content introduction to bring people back to the website to access the entirety of the content.
Email, and email newsletters, are a great tool for reminding customers and prospects that you exist. You might find it surprising, but people tend to forget and move on quickly, so being able to follow-up once in awhile can keep you in mind.
However, you should respect your customers and prospects and not bombard them with constant emails or overload them with email as long as unrolled toilet paper. Serve them bits of content, keeping the email brief, and let the value of the content take them to the next step.
By offering an intro via email and directing users back to the website, you can keep the size and length of the email newsletter reasonable. You can also gauge interest, relevance, and value by the rate at which users go to the website from the initial intro content.
Now it seems like we are coming up with an actionable strategy for serving content and generating traffic, but what comes first?
Website, Then Email
The obvious answer all along, right?
You’ve made it to my true opinion on the subject. Your website should be the centerpiece of your marketing and communication system. The website can create an experience, archive, and tool in ways that an email newsletter cannot. However, there may be limitations preventing your small business from using a website in this manner.
If your small business is subject to limitations when it comes to your website, or the lack of a website, then my suggestion is to go with the email newsletter alone, but keep a future website in mind.
The most important thing that must happen for your small business in this scenario is to get the content to the users, your customers and prospects. The lack of a sufficient website should not be a hurdle you have to clear before starting your marketing and communications.
Start simple, with a growing resource in mind. Use the email newsletter and don’t look back. It is direct and can give you immediate results. Yet, don’t waste the content you have created. Keep the future use of your content on a website in mind when creating a content. This way, you are always building on the content you are creating and communication, instead of sending and saying goodbye.
Use email and email newsletters to your advantage early on. Eventually, you can use the email and website in tandem…
Let’s Get Automated
Send in the robots.. no, WAIT!
As I mentioned earlier in this topic, there are ways to introduce automation to the process of publishing and distributing your valuable content on your website, email, and beyond. BUT, automation isn’t something to be taken lightly. Automation will absolutely save you time and effort on your marketing and communication tasks, but it can also take away from the user experience that your customers and prospects will be attracted to.
Go all manual to start. Publish to the website, then create an email newsletter from the published articles. Get to know your tools, their features, and how you can use them to your benefit within your process. After you have become comfortable with this process by covering it a few times, you can begin to find steps in your website software and email newsletter tool that will allow you to schedule a publish date and time.
By scheduling your content, you are now working on a content calendar, knowing precisely when the content will be made available to users. You can then create a routine, or a content calendar, for publishing the content that users can look forward to.
You must be well prepared to make automation work effectively.
OK, Now For The Robots
Don’t you mean the supreme overlords?
Understanding the schedule, routine, publishing process, and tools, now allows you to take that next step into automation. Features within website software and email newsletter tools will allow you to automatically populate an email newsletter from website posts.
Working with post and email newsletter templates will help you with building an automated process by giving you the exact locations to populate with content elements, such as: titles, excerpts, featured images, post links. All of these content elements can be placed within the email newsletter, attracting customers and prospects back to the website to consume and explore further.
Your content publishing and delivery system is ready to roll!
Working Like A Well Oiled Machine
With a pinch of magic fairy dust!
So to recap, if you have a small business website with post/blog capabilities, start there and work an email newsletter into your marketing and communication.
If you don’t have a website OR don’t have a website with post/blog capabilities, then go straight to the email newsletter, but keep the website in mind as the permanent home of your valuable content.
Don’t dive into automation until you know your schedule, routine, and publishing process, but most importantly, get to know the behaviors and results of the automation features of the tools you use. Test and experiment!
In the end, it is all just an experiment. Be ready to change the method and variables as you go, gain access to new features, and introduce new types of content, media types, and the like.
Now get out there and start publishing!
How are you utilizing email to generate traffic for your small business website?
Please leave your answer, questions, and feedback in the comments section below.
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