Any nonprofit interested in effective online communication should check out the executive summary of a fascinating study -- by the highly regarded Nielsen Norman group -- on e-mail newsletters, how to make them user friendly, and their value compared to web sites and RSS (also known as web feeds or news feeds). A couple of excerpts:
On e-newsletters vs. web sites: "Users tend to glance at websites when they need to accomplish something or to find the answer to a specific question. In contrast, newsletters feel personal because they arrive in users’ inboxes, and users have an ongoing relationship with them. Newsletters also have a social aspect, as users often forward them to colleagues and friends."
On e-newsletters vs RSS (web feeds): "Feeds are a cold medium in comparison with email newsletters. Feeds don’t form the same relationship between company and customers that a good newsletter can build. We don’t have data to calculate the relative business value of a newsletter subscriber compared to a feeds subscriber, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that companies make ten times as much money from each newsletter subscriber. Given that newsletters are a warmer and much more powerful medium, it is probably best for most companies to encourage newsletter subscriptions and promote them over feeds on their website."
Hmmm, among other things, this suggests that a free service such as Zookoda, which allows bloggers to send a weekly branded newsletter with digests of blog posts, would be more effective than RSS at building relationships with readers. I'll have to check it out. If anyone has used Zookoda, I'd be grateful for your thoughts in the comments section.
Thanks to the ultrapopular Merlin Mann at 43 folders for the tip.
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