Why Newsletters Are Having Their Moment – And Perhaps Many More To Come


For most, the term “newsletter” likely does not go hand-in-hand with the world of high-tech communication. It’s a periodical for elementary schools and religious organizations, making clear details for PTA meetings and community bake sales, either haphazardly pasted into an email or meticulously crafted on some version of Microsoft Publisher with built-in clip-art and color schemes.

So, how is it, then, that the utilitarian and decidedly un-trendy newsletter became the medium of choice for some of the most popular and talked-about online publications for Millennials, and, as a concept in general, gained a surprising amount of steam as of late?

There are two major factors that make the concept of an email newsletter compelling against the frenzied backdrop of online media in 2015 – the milieu of bloggers and micro-bloggers and Reddit threads and comments-section fights and everything else that one must digest to be culturally literate during the Internet age.  

The first element is delivery

Not on-demand, but rather curated. This obsession with having something that seems to be crafted just for you is also reflected in some of the rising stars in subscription E-Commerce – think Birch Box and Trunk Club, and other shopping experiences that remove instant gratification from the equation and replace it with a sense of deliberateness and privacy.  

This is perhaps embodied best by The Skimm, the exploding daily publication that delivers news and current events to a subscriber’s inbox in a bite-sized and easy to read format. It’s news that is made for you, delivered to you, and still feels personal even though it is delivered en masse.

The Skimm's daily newsletter grew organically, and now is a leader of the media industry

Reading something in your inbox as opposed to visiting a heavily trafficked website may not rationally make much of a difference, but it mimics the feeling of enjoying something in your own home versus in a crowded space, and in a society where we live so much of our lives on the internet, that has value.

The second element is the fact it defies the interactivity of the Internet – and yes, that can be desirable

A newsletter, just like those relics of magazines and newspapers, is a one-way form of communication, meant to be created by creators, and consumed by consumers. It does not have a comments section or a “Tweet” button. Newsletters can be read in solace, seemingly far away from the pressure of constant sharing and interaction.

Given this one-way format, it also means that newsletters can be incendiary and subversive without having a built-in space for fighting or trolling. Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s recently launched Lenny Letter, a much-talked about weekly feminist anthology with the slogan “There is no such thing as too much information.” It’s a perfect example of why this format is still necessary. The project was borne from Dunham’s experiences on her book tour, seeing that Millennial women were hungry for feminist content in a safe space, which the Internet has been notoriously unable to provide.

Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner's newly launched newsletter, called Lenny Letter

Direct-to-consumer media forces readers of such sometimes controversial content to form communities deliberately and through an actual understanding of what they are reading. There is no space for a knee-jerk hideous insult from an anonymous username.

The newsletter phenomenon is growing rapidly in the media space, forcing the blogging boom to share the stage with what many would consider a “throw-back” medium. If the success of publications such as Lenny Letter and The Skimm, as well as the growing number of newsletters that web content giants like BuzzFeed are churning out, is any indication, this format is here to stay. But don’t worry, Internet die-hards – this ain’t your mother’s Church Group Weekly.

Social Media Week


Email Marketing Newsletters: Your List Management Checklist


So, you want to send out a marketing email newsletter, right?

You think you have it all ready to go, but do you really?

This essential email marketing checklist (a 5-part series) goes over each element you must follow to get the most out of your hard work.

These are the elements I discuss in this series, all of which are of considerable importance:

  • Email Marketing Newsletters: Your List Management Checklist (this post)
  • Email Marketing Newsletters: Your Design Checklist
  • Email Marketing Newsletters: Your Timing Checklist
  • Email Marketing Newsletters: Your Testing Checklist
  • Email Marketing Newsletters: Your Follow-Up Checklist

Let’s start with your email marketing list management…

Clean up your email list of all bounces, unsubscribers and inactives.

  • If you keep sending emails to accounts that bounce, it affects your deliverability rate.
  • If people have chosen to unsubscribe, obey that request.
  • If account holders are not acting on your emails (open rate, click-through rate, etc.), send them a customized email to get them to respond.

Clean up

Recommended for YouWebcast: 4 Steps to Creating a Marketing Content Plan

Real-Life Scenario:

I subscribe to 15+ blogs. It’s a lot, I know, and I have a tough time keeping up with it all. With so many emails coming in each day, I don’t always get to each and every one.

One day, Kim Garst sent me an email asking about whether I’m still interested in hearing from her. Granted, it wasn’t Kim herself sending me this email, but it still made me feel far more interested in her emails than if I hadn’t received anything.

Kim Garst is the only one who has contacted me like that, and it makes her blog stand out to me far more than the others who don’t interact at all.


I’m going to cite Vertical Response several times in this series. They have a fantastic blog filled with incredibly informative articles on email marketing. I can almost guarantee you can find everything you need to know about email marketing on their blog site.

The first VR article I include here is titled: 15 Hygiene Tips to Keep Your Email List Clean as a Whistle. In it, you’ll learn how to clean, maintain and grow your email list to ensure its health and success.

The second VR article here is titled: 8 Ways to Wake up Non-Responders. The success of your email list depends on whether your subscribers are actively responding or not. When you have inactive subscribers, you’re missing out on many great opportunities to build relationships with them. This article gives you 8 steps to take to reconnect with these subscribers.

Segment your list by whatever means makes sense for your needs.

There’s all sorts of advice out there for how to segment your lists, but ultimately, it should be you that determines how in the end. Does it make sense to divide by demographic or by their opt-in info? Find out what method(s) will help you most, and go by that.


Real-Life Scenario:

I used to work for a local nonprofit, and I was in charge of their email marketing. When I first started, we didn’t segment at all. We sent one email to our entire list regardless of whether it was relevant to them or not. We quickly learned our lesson, and from then on, we customized our lists by type of nonprofit. We then sent different emails relating to the different nonprofit types, and our open rates and click-through rates did improve.


Vertical Response has an article (6 Ways to Segment Your Email List to Improve Your Success) that explains what you can do to overcome “bulk email disease” and get the most out of your email lists.

Thoughts? Questions?

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