I realize this is kind of an incendiary question but bear with me. There are of course many strong newsletters in the world. But they already exist. My question is about starting something new today. Assuming someone only had the resources to do one thing and they wanted to build a list and reach an audience, what would be the advantage of creating a newsletter where people give you their email address over creating a blog where people sign up for a feed? Don't straddle the fence, make your case: blog or newsletter?
Newsletter as an email is still a very powerful tool. Have a listen to Jason Calacanis (This Week In Startups ) on this topic, he runs both and has his highest hit rates from email.
This is because most business people still look at their email as one of their primary applications that they return to many times a day. The message appearing in here is more likely to be noticed, read and trusted ... if its from a trusted source.
Blogs are good but they are optional, people read them when they remember to ... if it's me remembering you might see me once. When possible, write blog people can subscribe to via email, or use a tool that can send it to email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
If its either one of newsletter or blog, go for blog.
Newsletter is still an effective tool, however in this socially connected world blog is becoming more powerful & effective everyday and certainly this is the future. With blog posts, your ideas reachability increases many-folds as blog posts can reach readers through facebook, twitter, rss feed, email or you can easily convert your posts as newsletter too - using blogging tools. Therefore due to ease in sharing blog content and reachability, blog is a better option than newsletter.
Personally I still sign up for newsletters if I am really interested in the company or its offering. However I am now starting to unsubscribe from these newsletters and subscribe to their RSS feeds.
I dislike getting 50 newsletters a day in my inbox, it takes time to filter and creates a lot of clutter, which reduces my productivity. Now with Google Reader, I go in when I want, and all the RSS feeds are there when I want them.
Forget the newsletter, go with a blog + RSS feed.
Communicate with your stakeholders in the way they prefer. With today's integrated publish platforms it is possible to match your content by how an individual wants to receive the information. Blogs, RSS feed, Twitter, SMS, Email, eBlast, eNewsletter -- different platforms for different messages for different content for different targeted audiences.
I think that periodic Newsletter continues to be the best platform for the presentation of more in-depth information. The kind that someone will want to read, not scan or skim -- actually read. For targeted groups through which the relationship is built based on the sharing of significant intellectual capital, a newsletter continues to be a powerful marketing tool.
And don't forget that communications is not exclusivly electornic. There is tremendous power in a world flooded by electronic communications to send a simple clean newsletter -- printed on paper and delivered in the mail.
In fact, our team is finding that scheduling a regular phone call (and sometimes even a face-to-face meeting) to past and current customers is "retro-wonderful" (I know, who would have thought it)
One line answer - Emails tend to be more personal compared to RSS feeds.
For my company personally, email newsletters perform really well.
Blog becomes a medium using which people sign up for a newsletter. Emails provide a personal touch and if written with the reader in mind, they can be really deliver.
Make sure your letters are focused and provide real value to your readers. You shouldn't be writing newsletters just for the sake of it or as an end-of-the-month chore.
Declare upfront while readers are signing up that they will get occasional newsletter with tips/suggestions etc and then pack some immense value in them so much so that they look forward to your next one.
When you 'warm them' up enough, you can pitch your products in between. People will readily buy from you, if they trust you.
I'm sure you know but just in case, you may want to use Autoresponder services for your newsletters related tasks.
It really depends on the user. I personally like to get newsletters on start-ups. I have a newsletter that gives buys people information related to staying health while working.
For my readers, getting a weekly e-mail on a topic like: standing desks,which running shoes to buy or productivity tips is helpful. Think about your audience and the content your delivering.