WalesOnline’s Jillian MacMath on transforming a portfolio of newsletters

Host: Esther Kezia Thorpe
November 13, 2023

This week we hear from Jillian MacMath, Audience Editor at WalesOnline. She was chosen by the judges as the winner of the first ever Hero of the Year at the Publisher Newsletter Awards, so what better person to come and discuss everything newsletters.

Jillian talks about the opportunities she saw to get more strategic about the newsletter portfolio when she joined WalesOnline, what metrics should matter to anyone with a newsletter, and what dedicated newsletters like football and food look like with a local focus. She also tells the story of their pop-up Covid newsletter, explains how to get other members of the newsroom invested in newsletters, and how they’re using key names to build more personal relationships via the inbox.

Newsletters and publishers innovating in the inbox this year will be one of the chapters Media Voices explore as part of their Media Moments 2023 report. Find out more and pre-register for their report here.

A selected highlight from the episode:

The metrics that matter…

“Which metrics are used to determine your success really depends on what your goals are. So in our case with news, there are a lot of things I think you need to look at to form the whole picture on your performance. With open rates, there are valid reasons to question the reliability of them. But they’re still worth looking at as an indicator of consistent performance; so you don’t want to see them fluctuating up and down. That’s a sign something’s wrong. But I probably wouldn’t use a high open rate in itself to determine that a newsletter is successful.”

“So in our case, pageviews are quite important. Ultimately, we want as many eyes as possible on the stories that we’re writing in our content. So we do have pageview targets. In addition to that, I’m always looking at daily monthly new subscribers, our net gain, so how our new subs compared to our unsubscribers, and then our active subscribers to the people who have actually not only received our newsletter, but opened them in the last 28 days.

“All of that feeds into a bigger picture for us and tells us what people are interested in, and what’s working and what isn’t.”


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