When it comes to written content, whether you’re an experienced marketer or not, many thoughts probably come to your mind. Social media posts, emails, blogs, long- and short-form sales copy, video scripts, headlines, website copy…you get the idea.
With all types out there, it can be confusing to distinguish between the uses or purposes of each. So, here we are to unscramble all this for you!
We will be covering blogs vs. newsletters (for marketing purposes) vs. emails: when to use which and why.
While there is never a perfect recipe for what to use when, we have some pretty good tips and differentiators to help you out with your dilemmas regarding these 3 types of content.
First, let’s define each of these types of written digital content. After all, in order to know when to use which ones, you have to know what which ones are…
- Blog = Short for “weblog”; an online journal or informational website displaying information in reverse chronological order, with the latest posts appearing first
- Newsletter (marketing) = the practice by which companies send informational and product-focused content via an emailed letter to a subscriber list that comprises potential and existing customers
- Email = Short for “electronic mail”; messages distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more recipients via a network.
**It is important to note that some companies will use “newsletter” to represent emails they regularly send (i.e. subscribe to our newsletter, but they really mean emails). For this blog’s purposes, we are talking about actual marketing newsletters**
You probably at least had a general idea of those 3, but it’s important to start with the basics before diving in deeper!
Now that you know the definitions of blogs, newsletters, and emails it’s time to learn the differentiators – i.e. when you would most likely use of each of these written content types.
Blogs are best utilized for a wider range of your target audience—those who are currently customers, have just heard of you, or are somewhere in between. Because of this, you can use blogs for anyone at any time in any part of your sales funnel. In addition, you generally post blogs on your website. Therefore, making it a more broad and general use than either newsletters or emails. You can use a blog when nobody has taken any action or shown interest (other than coming to your site). Your goal is to provide value to your target audience, which can be done at any time in the sales process.
Newsletters are a bit different in that they can be used at different times; however, it’s not as wide-open opportunities as blogs. Newsletters are generally used when prospects are lower in your sales funnel—meaning closer to the start/beginning and therefore less interested. For examples, leads that have not indicated interest in your product/service specifically, but maybe have given their email to download a free PDF file or something of that nature. Use a newsletter when people are less likely to convert. This will help them keep you top of mind for the future.
Now, you can also use newsletters with those who are already customers, depending on your business and your product/service. When your product or service isn’t purchased often, a newsletter can be useful. It’s also useful if your brand is a business that often has updates about the company, products/services, research or work the company has done, etc..
On the flip side to the above, emails are typically used for those closer to the top of the sales funnel—meaning they’re ready to convert (or very close at least). Emails can either be used at a time when you’re needing to inform or to sell. And the cool thing about email is that you can have multiple email campaigns going out at once to different stages or parts of your funnel.
Again, if your product or service tends to be a recurring purchase, then you’ll want to use emails to offer future discounts, information, reminders, etc. to those that are already customers as well.
Last, but not least, we’ll discuss the purpose behind each of these content types to wrap up.
Blogs are an opportunity to provide immense value, especially since with blogs you are able to have longer copy and content (compared to newsletters and emails). Use blogs to focus more on industry topics rather than your company, brand, or product/service specifically. This helps you provide value to your audience without coming across too salesy.
Now, you can mention your product or service offering at the end of the blog as a tie-in; however, your main purpose for a blog should be in providing value so that they can know, like, and trust you. This is especially good for new prospects who may find you—through your blog—before you even come into contact with them.
As mentioned previously, newsletters are top-of-mind content, usually sent on a monthly basis. The purpose is to keep people up-to-date and provide information to subscribers of your newsletter. This information can be news as well as other key information specifically about your company, employees, and/or your products and services. You can also include industry news too.
This information, however, is still more general compared to that of an email. It’s not necessarily about one specific thing. Rather it’s regarding general news, insights, and information on things going on and with your business.
Emails are a lot like newsletters in that they are used for information on your brand, company, or products/services. However, typically emails are campaign specific and are especially good to utilize for nurturing campaigns – either with current customers or prospects/leads. As mentioned before, emails are usually used with people who are closer to the top of your sales funnel and ready to convert. That is why emails can contain specific information around your business, a marketing campaign, or products/services.
One final thing that is important to note is that you need to know your audience too. These recommendations above on when to use blogs, emails, and newsletters work in general. The most important thing you can do as a business is provide value to your audience in content formats that resonate and connect with them specifically—even if it doesn’t perfectly fit the marketing mold explained elsewhere.