Online Tools

The e-Newsletter Alternative

For a small-to-medium business, keeping a website fresh with content is a big enough challenge. Add to that the desire to produce a quality newsletter and the pressure begins to mount.

As mentioned before, there are some great options for high-quality, profession, painless e-newsletters (ConstantContact, MailChimp, Emma, BlueSkyFactory to name a few). The greatest challenge is that you have to not only create the content, you then need to produce the actual newsletter to be sent out.

Let me suggest an alternative to the traditional ‘newsletter’ method. This new method is not another product, it’s more of a new way of thinking about the newsletter concept. If the goal is to reach your audience painlessly and cheaply albeit void of traditional corporate branding tactics, there are 2 great options:

  1. Make sure your site is set up with RSS feeds. Most standard (even free/open-source) options such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, www.blogger.com and many others have this as a standard option. This allows you to syndicate your content (RSS = Real-Simple-Syndication). People can then subscribe to your content via Feed Readers such as Google reader, FriendFeed and others. When they log-in to view their top stories, yours are included in their list! Best part, this is all free and automatic once you’re on the right platform.
  2. Get a Google account (if you don’t already have one) and sign up for FeedBurner. FeedBurner is a service provided by Google that allows you track people subscribing to your RSS feed, but as well it allows you distribute your content. Utilizing a simple intake form on your website, visitors to your website can opt-in to receive an email when you produce new content.You an establish the frequency of the email as well as the relative time frame you want it delivered. Here’s the beauty: you can spend your time focusing on content for you site and let Google worry about distributing your content free of charge to whoever subscribes to your feed. If there’s nothing new, there’s no email. If there are 30 new items, 1 email can distribute those 30 items directly to your subscriber base. At any time they can unsubscribe (with you even getting notified!)

Benefits:

  • Free!
  • Consolidate your work-flow so you can focus on producing great content and not worry about distribution
  • Great tracking/reporting
  • Embed advertising if desired – make money from your great content
  • Drive greater traffic as top-of-mind awareness increases and great content is distributed

Challenges:

  • Limited-to-no brand control of newsletter that is coming in beyond the “From” email, “From” address and “Subject”.
  • ‘Free’ platform so subject to changes/upgrades/modification – but more than likely this will work into the “Benefits” column as the functionality will get better with time, knowing Google.
  • Must be on a platform that allows for RSS which could be an upgrade for your current website.

This is a great option especially for the small-to-medium business that is looking to distribute great content without a lot of headache.

Leave a Reply