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Are Newsletters Sustainable? Or Obsolete?

The majority of the population has the attention span of a housefly watching a squirrel. It is hard to imagine that a long-winded diatribe extolling the latest and greatest with pictures and boilerplate verbiage garners much attention today.

Still, it is tough not to talk to prospective customers and tell them what you are up to. So, what is the best way to do that now? 

It is hard enough to weed through your inbox and quickly delete all the spam you know is spam, then slightly harder to sift through the somewhat more clever attempts with their informal banter and friendly discourse … “Hey Mark, My email may have missed you last week, no worries …”  

We have to get to the critical stuff–orders, quotes, samples, technical questions. We don’t have time to stop and read a newsletter in its entirety. We have four Zoom meetings, have to help child #1 with his Social Studies test, and our inboxes are overflowing with everyone else at home and on email. Newsletter? Right.

5 ideas to replace your outdated newsletter

How do we inform now without getting deleted simply for having “News,” “Update,” or some catchy news name like “Chronicle” or “Bugle” in our subject line? Marketing firms will tell you it still makes sense to get the news out there, but you have to determine how you do it. 

There is also a bit of a contradiction here. Many of the trades still flip through print magazines in the building material space. Architects and designers covet copies of Interior Design and Metropolis (as does Raina in our office, so we always set them aside to her delight). But absent of those two print paradoxes, there is very little time for the noise of a newsletter.

Let’s explore some options that might get your news out without the cumbersome task of justifying a newsletter with an open rate of 3-5%.



Showcase news on your website.

Your prospects generally arrive with a curious mind when they get to your website. Highlighting the latest and greatest makes sense here and won’t irritate someone since they navigated there, unlike your suspicious spam that invaded their inbox.

Use social media channels for news.

You could do this effectively on LinkedIn, where people expect news. You could do it on Facebook; yes, people still use this! You could maybe do it on Instagram, but go image-heavy with links to articles and wordy-wisdom. Instagram users are very image-centric, and words are sometimes an afterthought.

Not everything is about YOU.

Share informative information that goes beyond what you sell, how you sell it, what new colors and finishes are coming out, or new partnerships you have. Good for you, not good for us, and maybe not useful information for us. Share something broader, like information on making a more informative, effective piece than a monthly newsletter. (Ahem)

Be personal

Letters from the CEO, profiles of people, or partners can appeal to people. Dogs sell! Make sure that you are engaging someone in a way that makes them care about your company and what you are saying. Add value and be human; it’s a lovely combination.

Get cute

Find a new word besides “newsletter” or “news” and other print-promising bellwethers of paragraphs to follow. Use images and links, or pare it down to an informative infographic that sends your message straight, to the point, and, of course, cute.

Inboxes are like crowds of people, some who you know and some who you don’t, jumping up and down trying to get your attention. That first skim in the morning mentally logs the important and unimportant. If you have something to say and expect it to happen in a potential or current customer’s inbox, you better be some clever combination of personal, cute, engaging, and add value.  

Or you could stay unopened.

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