Digital Publishing
2 mins read

How to develop newsletters that readers actually want

I’m not sure if ‘Inbox Zero’ is still a thing, and I’ve certainly never gotten anywhere close to achieving it, but I absolutely get the desire to free yourself from the unrelenting tyranny of email. And given the flurry of email-management apps and self-help books out there, I’m not alone.

If a tweet I came across recently captures the zeitgeist in any meaningful way, publishers should be worried. It proclaims ‘2017 has been the year of unsubscribing from unwanted email subscriptions’. That’s a scary sentiment for a publisher to see — we’ve spent a lot of time and energy over the years building lists that we can send unwanted emails to. If subscribers are finally starting to wise up, we’re in trouble.

Of course, that’s the hyper-cynical view of how our industry handles email and only a dumb publisher would still abuse their own email lists. Right?

However much publishing has raised the bar on email best practice, we can still do better and turn the threat of email subscription purges to our advantage. Just like every problem is an opportunity in disguise – every unwanted email subscription ditched means a little more engagement for those that survive.

The trick is to make sure your emails stay on the most-wanted list.

Surviving the Purge

In my first post of the New Year I wrote, ‘Getting noticed is tougher and getting people to remember to come back regularly is the toughest…’. Of all the publishing platforms available today, email is high on the list for ticking both those boxes – but only if your email newsletters survive the purge.

One of the most important things any publisher can do to guarantee their newsletters don’t get dropped is to make sure that the right readers sign up in the first place. That takes a mix of careful promotions and increasingly, expanding choice.

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