The email newsletter has evolved over the years. In an article that David Carr recently wrote for the New York Times, he noted that email was very much still “on the march” – like a fine wine, the more it matures, the better it gets. Publishers are able to do amazing things with modern email newsletter campaigns, ranging from optimization for multiple devices to the use of rich media and video to creative a captive media experience.
In fact, despite the claims by some pundits that email may be a dying communication channel, the opposite increasingly seems to be the truth. Several publishers have noted that in a world of social media, video and other channels, email newsletters still have a strong place in the center of it all.
“Email is having a resurgence as news reading habits, informed by Twitter and Facebook, evolve from pull to push,” Jake Levine, Digg’s general manager, told Wired. “Twitter and Facebook are both streams, products where you accept that you’ll miss certain things. An inbox is the complete opposite. Your job is to clear it out. If something is important to you, email products are the one reliable way to make sure you’ll see it.”
Permission is powerful, and it’s what email newsletters thrive on. Whereas so many other media tools invade the privacy of consumers – no one asks for a television ad – email newsletters are all based around permission. Publishers need to get permission from readers to reach them, and their subscribing to the newsletters is the act of giving them that permission.
Crafting a successful newsletter
So, what goes into making a successful email newsletter? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question – otherwise, every publisher would have millions of subscribers and billions of opens and page views. That being said, GigaOM recently noted some of the key guidelines that may help publishers engage subscribers more effectively.
1. Entertain and inform
People generally subscribe to newsletters to learn something new. Regardless of whether it’s the latest news, tips on how to make Grandma’s famous cookies or the best travel destinations of 2014, publishers must find ways to inform people. This provides them with meaningful value, and the moment they stop learning or being entertained is the moment they stop caring.
Of course, that doesn’t mean all newsletters have to be funny or quirky. They just need to bring value to the customer.
2. Be concise
Although there are no specific word counts that newsletters should adhere to, they should be concise when possible. The real concern here is being too wordy. If publishers are trying to get a specific message across and it takes a lot of words, then that’s okay. However, if there is a way to say the same thing in a shorter way, publishers should strive for that.
This is especially the case now that more people are reading emails from their smartphones – if they’re busy and on-the-go, it’s quite possible they just won’t have the time to read the publication if the word count is too high.
3. Keep all devices in mind
This goes back to the whole mobile device use case. Publishers can put together some slick newsletter layouts and templates, but if they only work for desktop viewers, that can negatively impact the reading experience for smartphone and tablet users.
Email newsletters can be tremendously beneficial tools for publishers, as they may bolster brand loyalty significantly and establish the sender as an industry thought leader. At the same time, if the newsletter gets popular enough, it can also act as an additional revenue stream if publishers decide to leverage email advertising.