Magazine article Editor & Publisher

You've Got Mail: How the Email Newsletter Is Making a Big Comeback

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

You've Got Mail: How the Email Newsletter Is Making a Big Comeback

Article excerpt

Tweet this, share that, pin it, post it on Instagram--as journalists, it's easy to feel like we're slaves to the everyday demands of social media. Unfortunately, developing a presence on Facebook, Twitter and others have become a necessity in an age of hyper-competition between news organizations.

But for all the benefits of engaging with readers, content on social media can seem both scattered and endless. TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld dubbed this flow of content "The Stream," which winds its way through the Web and reorganizes it based on one singular criteria--"nowness." Plus, publishers are constantly at the mercy of newsfeed changes and algorithm shifts by social media companies that have their own bottom line to maintain.

Because of all this, more and more media companies are turning to a relic of our digital past to cut through the scattered haze of social media to better reach readers and promote content. Yes, I'm talking about the same place you receive anti-Obama notes from your uncle and poorly-spelled notifications of financial windfalls from Nigeria--your e-mail.

Dubbed "the cockroach of the Internet" by ReDef's Jason Hirschhorn, not only have e-mail newsletters survived the onslaught of blogging and social media, lately they're thriving among engagement editors looking for greater success in reach their overburdened audience.

"I don't think of it so much as a resurgence--email newsletters never went away--but instead, those who may have lost focus with the shiny new social media toys are now refocusing on the ever-reliable, impactful channel of email marketing," said Ron Cates, the director of digital marketing education at industry-leader Constant Contact.

The success of Mike Allen's go-to political newsletter "Playbook" points to the potential a popular newsletter can bring in terms of delivering not only content, but revenue. According to the Washington Post, Politico collects about $35,000 for a weekly sponsorship in the daily newsletter that includes a brief "Playbook" blurb and a small "paid advertisement" disclosure.

Under now-fired publisher Austin Beutner, the Los Angeles Times has gone down this route, creating several new email newsletters curated by journalists on topics aimed at landing a big-money sponsor. Among the most popular is "Essential California," which aggregates content from both in and outside of the Times to offer a comprehensive look at stories shaping the Golden State. Curated by Times reporters Shelby Grad and Alice Walton, the newsletter is reportedly closing in on 100,000 subscribers.

Beutner's not wrong--newsletters can be valuable real estate for sponsors. According to a study by Quartz, 60 percent of executives read an email newsletter as one of their first three news sources they check daily. That's more than twice as high as news apps and three times more than visiting a news site on desktop.

In recent months, we've seen a fury of new newsletters being launched by media companies. The Tampa Bay Times launched a weekly "PolitiFact" newsletter. The Atlantic just announced the launch of a new climate change newsletter. Philly. com launched a curated morning newsletter featuring the site's top five stories. After seeing massive growth on their daily newsletter, TechCrunch launched no less than seven new week-in-review newsletters. And so on.

"The number one advantage that email has over social media is guaranteed audience reach," said Cates, who notes that the best combination for publishers is using email as the foundation of their promotion effort and social media to further amplify their reach. …

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