In digital communications, newsletters are by far one of the oldest tools still used today. Even though digital technologies have come quantum leaps and bounds since the humble email newsletter was first introduced, it still proves to be an incredibly valuable marketing tool.
However, this versatile tool has appeared to fall out of favour with digital marketers in recent decades. With the rise of SEO in particular, there seemed to be a pivot towards forms of digital marketing that would more directly impact your place in search rankings results.
Despite this, the email newsletter has been experiencing a comeback of sorts. Although newsletters have increasingly had a reputation for being clunky, low-tech, outdated and unfashionable, they have nevertheless continued to be looked to by businesses, publishers and individuals as a powerful form of direct marketing.
Email newsletters are a great way of building habit, loyalty and familiarity — all of which are important for businesses looking to grow and cultivate their business-to-consumer relationships online. For this reason, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has indicated a rise in popularity in recent years. Similarly, other online publications have described newsletters as the “hot” marketing tool of the moment, particularly through new newsletter platforms such as Substack. Perhaps the most significant vote of confidence in favour of the email newsletter came with Facebook’s announcement that it was launching a new newsletter service.
However, in a world of digital marketing that is increasingly dominated and shaped by the need to stay on the right side of the search engine algorithms, newsletters tend to be overlooked and underrated as a marketing tool.
Although you might have thought that newsletters and SEO-focused marketing strategies served distinct functions, you would be surprised at how symbiotic the two are.
In this article, we will give you an overview of what newsletters are, why they have proved to be so popular, and how you can incorporate them into your content marketing strategy.
What are ‘newsletters’?
Although we might think of its most recent digital iteration as a relatively recent invention, the origins of the newsletter are very much historical. The etymology of the word ‘newsletter’ stretches back to the 1670s when it referred to a news report intended for circulation.
Beyond the word ‘newsletter’, however, this form of communication has been around since at least 131 BC, when the ‘Acta Diurna’ was used to publish news, military announcements and other important public information.
As far as it was used for marketing purposes, the newsletter saw increased usage in the 1800s to publish information about new products. For example, the ‘Edison Electric Lighting Company Bulletin’ was used to spread the word about the benefits of electric lights in 1882, while in 1888, Johnson & Johnson used a newsletter to launch ‘Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment’.
In the internet age, newsletters used digital, rather than analogue, addresses to reach their audience. This represented a renaissance for the newsletter, with millions of keen new internet users enthusiastically signing up for newsletters of all descriptions. One of the first email newsletters was sent by an employee of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1978. Since then, email newsletters have become a common part of our daily digital lives.
But what are the benefits of using newsletters for digital marketing purposes?
Are newsletters useful?
The most important feature of an email newsletter is that it contains valuable information. This is as true of the modern email newsletter as it was of the Acta Diurna sent back in 131 BC.
Newsletters are an excellent way of keeping your target demographic informed of the latest developments in your area of commercial operation. This might cover the latest business or industry news or simply inform your customers of a new sale you are trying to promote.
Newsletters are also helpful because of how direct they are. In contrast to social media posts which rely on individuals stumbling across your post — the chances of which can be increased by using promoted posts — newsletters are sent directly to the target audience.
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, newsletters are also an excellent way of creating a sense of familiarity and routine between you and your audience. By regularly sending out business updates through a newsletter, you are helping to increase brand awareness. Over time, this will help to deepen the relationship between you.
Newsletters and SEO
From the more technical perspective of SEO, what function do email newsletters serve?
Although you would be correct to think that newsletters might not impact your search engine rankings directly as other SEO strategies do, you would be wrong to believe that newsletters will have no impact.
The benefits of newsletters for SEO come in several more indirect, but no less important, ways. Of these, the three most important are:
- A newsletter can help you to increase the number of external links to your website
- They can help you to build up the credibility of your website, which will improve your standing
- A newsletter can provoke user engagement with your website directly or by sharing it
With these potential benefits in mind, let’s look at some of the more specific ways you can potentially use newsletters to improve your SEO outcomes.
Archive newsletters for an SEO-rich resource
One excellent way of putting your newsletters to use to impact your SEO directly is to create an archive of previous newsletter editions.
This will increase the chances for repeat interaction when users stumble upon them, but they will also be indexed by Google. Over time, this will improve organic search engagements. You can also use this archive as a link-building resource when you publish future newsletters or blog posts.
Enrich newsletters with keywords and formatting
Given that you will use older editions of your newsletter to create a ready to search and index archive, this also gives you an excuse to make any newsletters you publish rich with keywords.
Keywords are critical if you want to stay on the right side of the search engine algorithms. Thankfully, the newsletter format is incredibly flexible and is perfectly adaptable to any keyword strategy you want to adopt.
We have written several articles on how to get the most out of your keyword strategy, so be sure to check them out!
Additionally, you should also keep in mind that many of the principles about proper formatting for SEO will apply equally well to newsletters. Be sure to use plenty of H1 and H2 tags, as well as anchor text.
Use as an opportunity to link-build
As we have written about before, link-building is one of the most important practices from an SEO perspective. It not only helps to increase engagement with your website but will also help to improve your search rankings through building brand authority.
Thankfully, newsletters are the perfect resource to use to link-build. As with any other piece of written content, newsletters can support embedded links within the text, which will help to encourage user engagement.
The most effective SEO strategies use multiple marketing tools and techniques. With this in mind, the newsletter can be an effective tool to support and help execute an SEO-focused digital marketing strategy. If you would like some help putting together a newsletter strategy, formulating a delivery schedule or even writing a newsletter or press release, please reach out to PureContent today. PureContent is a dedicated team of content writing professionals who are ready to help craft the perfect piece of content for your marketing campaigns. Reach out today and book a one-on-one consultation!