A strange thing has been happening to newsletters online.
They have been turning into either a) promotional emails or b) web pages delivered by email.
I'm sure you know what I mean. Go back a couple of years and you could look forward to receiving your favorite newsletter in the knowledge that the newsletter itself would contain some great content...something you could read and enjoy, or learn from.
You could open the newsletter in your email and read it, from beginning to end. There were articles, reviews or just personal rant...well written and interesting.
In short, there was real value, right there in the newsletter.
These newsletters, where significant value lies in the body of the newsletter itself, are becoming harder and harder to find.
Instead, more and more companies and organizations are using their 'newsletters' as a promotional ploy to drive you to pages on their sites.
In one way, it's understandable. As anyone with a newsletter knows, if you have one or two links to your site in the newsletter, your site traffic really spikes on the days you send out the newsletter.
When you see that, it's tempting to optimize the entire newsletter ? its format and content ? as a means to drive additional traffic and generate more sales.
As a result, you now see numerous newsletters where an article is not included in its entirety. You simply get a teaser and a link to a page on their site. Or else you get a 'newsletter' that looks just like the site interface, with all the various navigation links and promotional messages included.
This may be great if you want to maximize the traffic to your site each time you send out a newsletter. But there is a catch.
The catch is, if there is less value in your newsletter itself, your subscribers will quickly begin to become bored with it. After all, with a zillion other promotional emails cluttering our inboxes ? why pay special attention to a 'newsletter' that is simply another sales pitch?
The real value of a newsletter that contains valuable content is long-term. You'll get more word-of-mouth, you'll get higher open-rates, and you'll get long-term readers who look forward to your newsletter, for years ahead.
Is there a compromise? Sure there is. A valuable newsletter doesn't need to be text-only without a single link, or devoid of any promotional elements.
Just make sure that every newsletter contains some valuable content, in its entirety. Give people a real reason to look forward to receiving it, opening it and reading it.
Nick Usborne is a copywriter, author, speaker and advocat of good writing. You can access all his archived newsletter articles on copywriting and writing for the web at his Excess Voice site. You'll find more articles and resources on how to make money as a freelance writer at his Freelance Writing Success site.