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Small Businesses Prefer Email Newsletters over New Media

Email newsletters are one of the two most important sources for business management information and advice for small and medium businesses (SMBs), according to a study released by Bredin Business Information, Inc. (BBI).

In the study, SMB executives were asked to judge the relevant importance of different media for business management information. 83% of respondents indicated that email newsletters were either very important or important sources, putting it in a near statistical tie with print media (84%) and ahead of corporate/media websites (71%). At the bottom of the list were many of the "new" media distribution methods, including webcasts/podcasts (40%), RSS feeds (39%) and blogs/wikis (34%).

SMB executives also knew the kinds of articles they wanted to see in their vendors' email newsletters. By far, practical "how to" information (40%) was the preferred form of content, followed by company product information (26%), management overviews on topics such as strategy or leadership (21%), company news (19%) and case studies (17%).

Among other key findings from BBI's SMB email newsletter report:

  • SMB executives pay attention to email newsletters. 65% of respondents said they read some issues thoroughly and skim others, 12% said they skim all of them, and 11% said they read every one completely.
  • When asked what is most important in deciding whether or not to read a vendor's email newsletter, 64% said it was who the newsletter was from. The subject line (16%) was secondary.
  • Four out of five respondents said they had at one point unsubscribed to a vendor's email newsletter. The top reasons for stopping an e-newsletter? Irrelevant content (63%) and didn't want something that wasn't being read (58%).
  • The vast majority of SMB executives want to receive their email newsletters weekly (45%) or monthly (34%). Few want them daily (11%) or quarterly (6%).
  • Half of SMBs were indifferent as to what day they would like to receive email newsletters, but those that did express a preference preferred Monday. "First thing in the morning" or "anytime during the day" were the times they said they were most likely to read their e-newsletters.
  • A successful email newsletter can have a positive impact on the vendor's image. A third of SMB executives said they had an improved image of a vendor from its e-newsletters. However, the opposite may also be true when an e-newsletter is poorly executed – 14% said the email newsletter damaged the sender's image.

Read the full press release and request a copy of the survey results here.

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