Are e-newsletters still worth your investment?

Updating a blog posting from May 15, 2014

Since I started my copywriting business nearly 10 years ago, I have been interested in the format of electronic newsletters. Why? They’ve “hooked” me with their capacity to share knowledge and insight from my clients with their prospects–to sell indirectly, based on a relationship filled with valuable knowledge and skill.

And, at the end of the day, who doesn’t love reading a short, informative e-newsletter?

E-Newsletter specialist (and friend) Michael Katz has pioneered the format over the past 25 years for professional service firms. In two still popular interviews with the American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), he argued that email and email-based newsletters are not “dead,” despite recent developments in mobile apps and social media.

In fact, the e-newsletter format continues to influence prospects’ knowledge and buying decisions. If you have an opening rate of 25 to 30%, as I do with mine, that is significantly better than most consumer response rates to social media, or even to old school methods like newspaper ads, direct mail or cold calls.

After consulting Michael’s brief but powerful book, E-Newsletters that Work (Xlibris, 2003) in 2011, I added e-newsletter creation, writing and editing to my list of available services. Nine years later, I’m still writing e-newsletters! Amid Covid-19 times, the reasons why are more important than ever. Here are some reasons why the e-newsletters that I write can help you, as a small business owner:

  •  In pre-pandemic times, online prospects usually couldn’t measure your products or services upfront, before they bought them. But by publishing an e-newsletter that offered them value in the field, you could earn their respect and trust, so that they would buy. Well, Covid-19 has only intensified this reality, as in-person, physical sales have been severely limited, if not totally outlawed. In the past three months, the popularity and value of electronic, online marketing and sales have soared, and will continue to do so.
  • An e-newsletter is a low-cost, convenient way to “stay in front of people” over and over (month by month), so that you become seen as a “likeable expert” in your field. When your prospect thinks of your field or niche, your name will be attached to it.
  •  e-Newsletters are simply extended email messages and so a systematic version of “word of mouth.” And since you’re reading amid the greatest pandemic of the last 100 years, where virtual word of mouth updated us all on where to find toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and flour, everyone knows how valuable word of mouth can be!
  • e-Newsletters are easily forwarded from one reader to another (from one of your prospects to another), including over social media.
  • As a client of my services, you may not feel that you’re an expert. But most business owners have careers worth of knowledge and expertise, or specialization, that I can leverage for content.
  • e-Newsletters are meant to be conversational and interactive relationship builders. I use a variety of storytelling methods that resonate with the minds of your prospects, so that they will read, respond and buy.
  • Although they focus on the needs of your prospects, e-newsletters have a distinct voice, point-of-view and authentic (not salesy) content. These attributes convey your identity, compellingly.
  • e-Newsletter content does not need to consist of wholly original things, but instead can share simple content in the form of a single, powerful insight, told from a clear point-of-view, with your prospects. Michael is expert at this and I have trained in his method, too.
  •  A strong format for B2B marketing, e-newsletters are never about a hard-sell. Eighty percent (80%) of them should share your knowledge while only 20% should promote your product or service. This is a format with integrity.
  •  For that reason, you can also always re-purpose (evergreen) e-newsletter copy in the form of webinars, eBooks, special reports and other content-rich formats. This is hard-working marketing that can save you cost and time, in the long run.
  •  Over the last 20 years, vendors for e-newsletters have grown more sophisticated and easier to use, so that now I can create a visually appealing document that succeeds with your market. Numerous good programs in North America exist, such as iContact, ConstantContact, Infusionsoft, MailChimp and others.
  •  The quality of your list of subscribers is more important than its size. Fifty responsive subscribers can fill your pipeline with quality leads.

Some of my past clients have worried they’ll give way their industry “best practices,” if they hire me to write an e-newsletter for them.

But as Michael has observed, you needn’t worry about “giving away the business,” by sharing your expertise. He says: “If you can give away your business in 12 monthly newsletters, you don’t have a business in the first place.” In other words, an e-newsletter can be content-rich without selling the family farm. (Remember: an e-newsletter is a marketing document, not a training manual.)

What ideas or questions do you have about e-newsletters? What product or service of yours can I promote, using this evergreen communications and marketing method?

Want to sample a taste? Visit my e-newsletter sign-up sheet at to subscribe!