It’s a question that every organization should ask itself. And if the answer is "no" or even "not sure," you've probably got some serious thinking to do.
At Texere, we continually review products from the dual perspective of our audience and commercial partners. And we recently went on a somewhat existential journey with our newsletter products. Though delivering value to us (via website traffic) and our partners (good click rates), it dawned on us that our newsletters were not fully catering to the evolving needs of our audience.
Newsletters: Easy to send, hard to get right
Like many publishers, we were using newsletters as a means of teasing audiences, encouraging readers to click before providing anything of value in return. Engagement between readers and brands went unrewarded. Readers had to click further to engage with the excellent content produced by our editorial and design teams rather than feeling instantly gratified.
We knew we were sending our newsletters to the right people so engagement was good… But not fantastic. And we knew we could do better.
We recognized that a great newsletter shouldn’t only act as an intermediary between the reader and content. It needs a higher purpose – a more intelligent reason to exist. We decided that our newsletters needed to be immediately useful to readers.
And so we started producing content specifically for the newsletter, providing insight without demanding that our readers leave their inboxes. We made our newsletters more personal and community oriented, with introductions from editors that connect the dots, paint a bigger picture or call attention to important events.
Instead of conducting our never-ending content research behind closed doors, we decided to showcase it – curating the best research, news, and technology updates from across our fields and presenting it to our readers in a digestible format. We strived to sum up the week in a five-minute read.
And our readers love us for it.
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Make it beautiful!
Finally, we applied the design expertise that is ubiquitous across our other channels to our newsletter products, including new fonts, cleaner presentation, and brand new design elements to bring it all to life.
Was it all worth it? The first new (!) newsletter went live two months ago, and core metrics – subscriptions, open rates (and repeat opens –loyalty), click rates/engagement, forwards – are all on an upward trend.
And guess what. Unsubscribes are down.
Admittedly, it's early days, but given that our content creators and readers are all getting much more out of newsletters, we are excited about the future. And we now have a much more flexible mindset.
In short, a newsletter should not be a self-serving tool. First and foremost, it should serve its readers.