Bredin Press  >  Press Release 3/6/2007

Email Newsletters Are the Preferred Information Source for Small and Medium Businesses

SMBs Engage Regularly with Email Communications to Get Practical, How-To Information from Their Vendors

CAMBRIDGE, MA, March 6, 2007 – 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 new study released today by Bredin Business Information, Inc. (Bredin).

"Optimizing Email Newsletters for Small/Medium Businesses" is based on a survey of more than 300 SMB executives to determine which types of email newsletters they are most likely to open and read, and what they look for in an email newsletter from their vendors. Bredin conducted the study in January/February 2007 and released the results at MarketingSherpa's annual Email Marketing Summit. In the survey, small businesses were defined as companies with fewer than 100 employees; medium businesses were defined as companies with 100-500 employees.

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%).

"It is clear that small and medium businesses value the information they get from email newsletters," said Stu Richards, CEO of Bredin. "Marketers right now should be investing resources in this form of communication because it offers an excellent vehicle to position their company as a trusted advisor."

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 Bredin'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.

"By understanding what SMBs expect from the email newsletters they receive, marketers can deliver better communications that clearly meet those needs," Bredin's Richards noted. "Business-to-business marketers should be using this information to refine their SMB-focused email newsletters to get the best possible response. And companies that currently don't communicate with their customers and prospects this way should consider launching their own information-driven e-newsletters."


About the study
Bredin Business Information conducted the "Optimizing Email Newsletters for Small/Medium Businesses" study to better understand usage patterns, attitudes and enhancement opportunities for email newsletters. Over 300 executives at small and medium sized businesses took the online survey in January and February 2007. Respondents were evenly split among very small businesses (1-19 employees), small businesses (20-99 employees) and medium businesses (100-500 employees). In order to take the survey, respondents had to subscribe to one or more email newsletters.

About Bredin Business Information (Bredin)
Based in Cambridge, MA, Bredin Business Information, Inc., has been helping leading companies market more effectively to small and medium businesses since 1991. Its services include research that delivers practical, actionable marketing recommendations; strategy consulting that ensures SMB marketers' campaigns are on target; and award-winning communications that position its clients as knowledgeable, trusted advisors to the SMB marketplace. Learn more about Bredin at www.bbionline.com.

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