Ezine and newsletter are two terms that are often used interchangeably among email marketers and their subscribers. On the surface, there appears to be little to no difference between the two. This is because both can generally be defined as an online publication that is distributed via the email system. With that said, these terms have two distinct origins and applications that set them apart.
Meet the Newsletter
Described as a newspaper or leaflet, the newsletter has been around for quite a while, going as far back as the Boston News-Letter in the early 1700s. Traditionally, it has been used to provide news or information to groups with interests in a specific topic. This aspect has not changed much as newsletters today are targeted at church members, students, business professionals and several other groups of people that share interest in a particular topic. What has changed is the method of delivery. While offline newsletters still exist, these publications have become more widespread online where they are distributed through the email system. Today, newsletters are an essential ingredient for email marketers looking to maintain communication with their target audience.
The term ezine is a portmanteau of the words electronic and zine. Contrary to popular belief, the term does not originate from magazine. It is actually derived from "fanzine", a printed publication maintained by fans of specific niche topics. These publications are labeled as so because the fans typically freely distribute them, doing so out of passion for the topic rather than profit. Due to the similarities and the aspect of the internet, it is no surprise that the words ezine and newsletter are used synonymously. Many people have their own method of distinguishing the two, but only end up describing the same type of publication give or take a few factors. However, it is the diversity of the ezine that truly separates it from a newsletter.
Enter the Web
There are a number of ezines online. Some of the most common examples are EzineArticles, Ezine Directory and Amazines to name a few. These publications generally act as article directories, providing topics that range from email marketing and web hosting to health and finance. Many businesses, writers, and other professionals use these publications to gain exposure for their products or services, and increase traffic to their website. In this sense, an ezine is not like a newsletter at all. It runs on a web server and instead of delivering content via email, it does so from the web. So technically speaking, when most people refer to an ezine, they are actually describing a newsletter.
Clearing the Confusion
Deciphering an ezine from a newsletter can be very confusing and hopefully we did not make it worse. From a technical perspective, they are two different publications that offer their own unique advantages. When referred to synonymously, they are essentially one in the same. The good news for email marketers is that regardless of what you choose to call them, both can be a valuable tool that delivers immeasurable benefits for a marketing campaign.