Email Subs and Weekly Newsletters {Discussion}

Posted 31 May, 2013 by Amanda / 26 Comments

discussion

I’ve been thinking.

That’s always a dangerous statement to start with, isn’t it?

Here’s what I’ve been thinking:

In the business world, your email list is GOLD. The people who sign up are your biggest supporters because they choose to receive your updates. I reward my list by providing them extras that no one else gets: a chance to help me rename my business, the first look at my new name (and site!), writing and grammar tips, and whatever else I throw at them to say, “THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING ME.”

I do that because I think they ROCK, and YES, I want them to STAY WITH ME.

But in the business world, I send out an email every other week on average.

EVERY. OTHER. WEEK.

Compare that with On a Book Bender, which publishes five posts per week on a normal week.

That means for every one business email I send, On a Book Bender email subscribers receive TEN emails. Ten emails is a LOT, especially if you’re subscribed to all your favorite blogs because you just can’t bear the thought of missing out.

When Feedburner got rid of its API and there was a mass exodus and research into alternative options, newsletters like MailChimp (which I use for my business and LOVE) were seen as a viable option because there’s an RSS to email option, which conveniently sends out an email every time you publish a new post. And that works.

But here are a few problems with that:

  • If you publish a lot and you have a lot of subscribers, you’ll either hit your maximum subscriber count or maximum send count fairly quickly.
  • MailChimp is strict with anti-spam laws, and you’re required to supply a physical address in the footer of every email.
  • It doesn’t solve the problem of MANY EMAILS in your inbox.
  • MailChimp can do SO MUCH MORE than RSS to email.
  • Email lists have a different meaning in the book blogging world than the business world: you’re not selling your products or your knowledge–for money–so what are the benefits to having a list?*

In the business world, I’ve unsubscribed to newsletters because they sent me too many or they forced me to click through to their site to read their email and I decided following RSS was a better option or all they did was SELL SELL SELL at me.

But here’s the truth: sending MORE emails to people DECREASES open rates and INCREASES unsubscribe rates.

The conclusions I draw from this are as follows: 1. RSS to email is not an effective subscription option when you publish a lot of posts every week unless the person really loves your blog or they’re only following one or two blogs via email and the resulting emails are not overwhelming. 2. Daily emails (or five per week) are resulting in UNOPENED emails and LACK OF TRAFFIC to my blog.

Providing the option to subscribe to your blog through email is important. But what does it accomplish if your open rate is 21.6%? (That is the actual average open rate for my industry. My average open rate is 70%. But it’s dropping.)

Is there a better option for book bloggers?

One piece of advice many marketers will tell you is that you need to provide value and content for your email subscribers. How can you do that if you’re only doing an RSS to email campaign? A successful newsletter is one that establishes a personal connection with the reader and gives them a reason for sticking around. If you give them something to look forward to, they will open. Right? It seems straightforward.

So then I had an idea.

Weekly On a Book Bender digests.

It would be an alternative to other subscription options, not a supplement. It would essentially be my Clock Rewinders post, but likely providing MORE of ME in the email, because otherwise’s what’s to stop you from just tuning into my CR post every week?

Benefits to this idea:

  • One email per week is more manageable than five
  • You can pick and choose which posts you want to look at
  • You know you won’t miss out on something because you hit “mark all as read” on your feed reader
  • Readers who aren’t bloggers or who aren’t present on the blogosphere much won’t be overwhelmed with the number of posts/emails

Cons to this idea:

  • It’s an additional step for me every week (but honestly, I’d do it for you if you wanted me to)
  • You’ll like come in late to conversations on posts–if that matters to you
  • It’s still subject to the “holy crap, I have 1093843 emails in my inbox, so I’m just going to delete them all” phenomenon.

Now you tell me: what do you think of a weekly On a Book Bender digest? Would you subscribe to it over any other option?

*I’m still debating this: what IS the value of an email list to a book blogger?

Filed under: Discussion,

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26 Responses to “Email Subs and Weekly Newsletters {Discussion}”

  1. I tell you what I think: I love the idea! It has become increasingly difficult to stay on top of blogging for me lately, and I have really fallen off the community aspect of it, which is the best aspect of it all! To be able to receive your weekly digest would allow me to review your content for the week, which I hate missing. Your CR posts serve the same purpose, but I’m always up for more of YOU. :)

    • Yes. YES! I actually was thinking about you and other people in the same situation: too busy (or exhausted–I get that, too) to check up on their favorite blogs. This could be a good alternative. And I wanted to maybe start talking about what’s coming up for On a Book Bender or things I have planned–stuff I wouldn’t normally share on the blog until it went live.

  2. I am weird about email. I sign up for very little to come to my mailbox and end up unsubscribing from a bunch if they send out more than one email a week. I don’t like the clutter. I do like the digest idea as it does mean once a week but I would probably stick with RSS. RSS works for me for things that update often and email works for me for things that are less frequent.

    Stats: That is where it gets sticky for the provider. It is just easier to find a free stats program for email subscribers vs RSS Feed ones.

    • I’m the same way with my book blogging email. Lots of email is overwhelming, especially with the number of comment notifications and other general crap that comes through. (Though I’m curious to see how the new gmail inbox deals with that. I’ve got it set up with my onabookbender account and now I’m just waiting for the emails to come flooding in. lol.)

      Stats actually don’t matter to me too much, but remembering that having an email subscriber doesn’t equal having an engaged reader is important.

      • I am with you on stats. It didn’t phase me at all when the feedburner thing went crazy because I had never looked at them.

        That is an important note about email and engaging! I know because I am subscribed to some things that go directly to my trash can because the unsubscribe for one reason or another did not work.

        • Exactly! And having an email list for my business has really driven this point home for me–some people only open the emails occasionally, or some read and don’t click through, and so on. I’m actually overhauling how I do my business newsletters in hopes that I’ll get more engagement.

  3. I probably wouldn’t since I’m having an okay time keeping up with my RSS reader these days and prefer to get all your posts asap :D. However I do think it’s a great idea for people who are having problems keeping up with all the blogs they are following! You might even be able to make a plugin that gathers the posts automatically and leaves space for a message or something that you could sell :D

  4. We were actually thinking about doing the same thing. If not weekly, then on a monthly basis. I think ti’s great. I know I get overwhelmed with all the book blogs I follow. I think it’s a great way to stay “in the know” and not be crushed by emails every day.

  5. Why do your posts always come to me at the perfect time?! Thanks for tweeting about it. I was actually thinking of doing the same for my blog. Things are slowing down because I am so busy, but when I get back to full speed, I know people will be annoyed. I also offer incentives to my email subscribers – such as giveaways that require the recipient to reply with a ‘magic word’ as their Subject. It is really fun! I do not provide any address on Mailchimp at my footer, as there is the option to delete, and I have not had any problem because of it… I think.

    Where I am conflicted is how I as a reader feel about getting weekly digests. If you are one of my favorite blogs, I do not mind getting daily updates. However, if I am not strong a fan, a weekly update is not so bad. How am to know how much subscribers love my blog? I have had some of the most loyal subscribers with great ratings unsubscribe from my blog. It is such a confusing thing!

    Sigh. I think I will do the weekly digest though. But I really do not want people to be late with news! Especially reviews! Hmm. Maybe I can compromise and do a bi-weekly digest? On Mondays and Fridays? Beats me. I am so conflicted. Cannot wait to hear your decision!

    • I am in yer brain, stealing yer thoughts.

      I see weekly updates more as an option for people who a) are too busy during the week to stay on top of an RSS reader, b) want to “try out” a blog to see if it’s worth following, or c) aren’t bloggers and only follow a select few bloggers. (I’m thinking of people like my boyfriend’s mom.)

      I might try weekly updates and see how it goes. I’ll look at it as an experiment.

      As far as the address thing goes, you’re legally required by anti-spam laws to provide a physical address. But I suspect it’s one of those things that will only be an issue if you’re reported.

  6. I don’t subscribe to blog emails anyway… I’d much rather use a feed reader. That said, I’d be much more likely to subscribe to a weekly newsletter than a new email for every post. And if it contained more content than just a list of links, I might even subscribe to a weekly update in addition to following in my feed reader.

  7. I’m so torn on this. I like the idea of a weekly update but for those blogs that I comment on and try to interact with regularly, a weekly wrap up wouldn’t work for me. Your blog is a prime example of this. Besides the fact, sometimes I open up my browser and park my space ass here ALL DAY LONG. Yep, I stalk you. Deal with it.

    That said, if you DID decide to start a weekly newsletter, I’d sign up. I think I’m contractually obligated as your partner in crime. *checks the subclauses* Yep. Subsection 3, paragraph 10 – Kelly shall always subscribe to my newsletters and provide unwavering support in my endeavors. In addition, she will Tumble me pictures of half-naked and fully-naked men as needed.

    WHO AM I TO GO AGAINST THE DICTATES OF OUR (written) BOND????

  8. I can only say how I use the subscribe feature for most blogs and, well, at that point, I generally don’t. I usually delete new email message posts because I know they’ll be in my RSS feeder (I know, BAD BLOGGER). There is always the option with the opt-in ability of course, but I’m seeing more blogs driving towards the once a week wrap-up email. It makes more sense to me. I would subscribe so hard.

    • I think this is an area that requires knowing your audience. I know that a good portion of my readers are other book bloggers who follow through an RSS reader (and that this wouldn’t be something they’d consider). But I also know there are others who don’t always have the time to devote to following a blog, or maybe they only have one day a week to browse blogs. Something like a weekly digest seems to fill that need. In this case, I’m willing to try it out and see what happens.

  9. I’m torn. (Helpful, I know.) I like the idea of less emails, but I wouldn’t want to wait a week for your posts. Usually I feel silly commenting on a post that’s more than a few days old, especially if there’s been many more posted since then.

  10. I see since this post you have implemented the newsletter. I hope it’s working out for you. I never fully utilized the Feedburner aspects so I really have no clue what I’m missing. What I do know is that it is sending out a daily email when there are new posts. I think for people who lead busier lives, this would be the perfect solution. Once a week means they can catch up with you when they have the opportunity instead of letting it sit in the inbox forever or worse deleting it!

    • I have! I’ve had it for about a month now, so it’s still in its growing stages. It’s like my CR post – community links and GR info + extra inside looks at what I’m up to. I think newsletters have a very distinct audience–one that’s a small portion of normal book blogger audience. But the option is there. And that is good.

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