Nobody will disagree that businesses need to keep the communication channels open between them and their customers. Communication builds mutual respect, rapport, and trust between those buying and selling and that's good for business.
Newsletters in other than blog format have traditionally involved “push" technology ie, you push your information onto your customers whether they want it, want it at the time you want to give it, or whether they are interested in the content.
Along with the problem of pushing information that people don't want, or don't want as often (how often is too often is a subjective matter akin to asking, “how long is a piece of string"? Nobody knows the answer. ), it takes time to download PDF files and admittedly, less time to click through to an HTML version. Producing both types of newsletter is time consuming and any feedback elicited from articles either comes from a form on an HTML page or via stand-alone email. Usually, what one reader has written cannot be read by other readers.
Hard copies have similar problems plus the disadvantage that they cost money to print and post and many of the copies finish up in wastepaper baskets without ever being read.
Because of the above disadvantages and many advantages, savvy business owners are now using “pull" technology. Enter the blog.
Communicating On Demand
Blogs involve people pulling the content they want to them, the opposite of having information pushed onto them by sellers. This may be done by simply asking interested customers to visit your site each Wednesday when you update your blog. Alternatively, they can set up Real Simple Syndication (RSS) protocols and periodically “see" which blogs they subscribe to have had new content added since they last read them. By using an RSS aggregator or newsreader, they can quickly access that information. They simply open a program on their desktop (which could be one of a number of RSS capable Internet browsers such as Mozilla) and go straight to your blog if they wish.
So, essentially it's left to interested customers to decide whether they want to read your blog. You don't upset customers by sending email or other media they don't want.
At many sites, setting up and managing a blog is free. For example, Blogger. Com which is a business owned by Google, allows the public to set up free blog sites. The data for blogs is easily input into the blog template, either while you are logged in to the site, or by cutting and pasting from pre-written material. Once entered, it requires a click on a button and within seconds, your blog is “live" for all the world to see.
If you are on the run, you can stop at an Internet cafe and update your blog using an email message. An excellent feature of blogs not usually available with HTML or other media newsletters.
You can allow comments from readers to be added to the blog. This is excellent for discussing issues customers might have with specific products and services, or simply encouraging them to ask questions about you or your firm that you can answer. Blog comments can be monitored to ensure that nothing unsavoury appears for all and sundry to see.
Blogs can be set up with links to your products or services and also to parts of your site that tell readers who you are and what you do. An advantage in having links in your blog is that those links link to your site and increase your importance for search engine optimization.
By using one of the Blog Directories or a service like Pingomatic. Com, you can advise dozens of Blog Directories that your blog has been updated. This means your URL and company details are being sent all over the web at no cost to you. That's right, no cost . . you can't do much better than that!
I've submitted my blog one day to find a top Google rating the next. It's free, efficient and effective and is far superior to the old ezine approach to promotion and marketing.
I've used hard copy, PDF, HTML and email newsletters over the years for my businesses and have abandoned all of those means for blogs. The advantages of blogging over ezine publishing are clear and provable. Why not do a comparative study; publish your newsletter in both media for a few months and see which one gets the best results.
If you aren't convinced that maintaining a blog is far superior to an ezine newsletter, I'll be astonished.
Here's to your business success through blogging.
Copyright 2007 Robin Henry | Published 8 March 2007
Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet entrepreneur who writes articles about a wide range of topics. Robin's blogs can be found here: http://www.dwave.com.au/myblog.html and at http://www.download-audios.blogspot.com