Discover more in the Best of OPEN Forum series

Rethinking Newsletters for the Social Age

Email newsletters may seem almost old-fashioned compared to social media posts, but there are solid reasons to revisit this old standby.
July 19, 2016

How many emails do you receive each day? Probably far more than you have time to read or would care to receive. Ironically, that overabundance of email is exactly why newsletters are making such a huge comeback: Those who subscribe, care.

When the popularity of email marketing in the late 2000s waned in favor of social media marketing, many marketers proclaimed that email marketing was dead. Tweets and Facebook posts were preferred by marketers for their real-time and lightweight qualities and their ability to reach consumers where they are online.

Today, however, consumers seem to be increasingly overwhelmed with online information overload. With so much content on social media, it may be difficult to know what's relevant. And, from a marketer's point of view, social media may be performing worse than ever as a marketing channel. Organic reach appears to be declining as platforms pressure brands to pay to play and consumer attention is scarce. As a result, some consumers and marketers alike are returning their focus to email. In fact, 63 percent of marketers now use newsletters as part of their email marketing strategy, according to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report.

The best newsletters may be forwarded along to friends and teams, the email equivalent to word-of-mouth marketing.

A newsletter is a distinct type of email marketing. Rather than typical marketing emails that highlight a specific product or are the result of a transaction, newsletters are much more general and tend to be content-focused. It’s a softer form of marketing, often with links to both original and curated blog content or news that may or may not be related to the product or service the company is selling. Delivered on a regular cadence ranging from daily to monthly, the intent of a newsletter is typically to build thought leadership and directly deliver relevant content to consumers that meets their needs or piques their interest. For businesses looking to reach their audience directly, crafting a newsletter may offer a unique set of benefits. 

Newsletters May Build Trust and Brand Awareness

Consumers usually only sign up for newsletters from brands they like and are interested in. With newsletters, consumers opt into a direct line of marketing for content, products and services they care about. Likewise, with the ability to stop receiving marketing at any time, consumers are in ultimate control. As consumers continue to open, read and click-through a brand’s newsletter, brands may build trust by delivering high-quality content that keeps the reader engaged.  

Newsletters act as a passive touchpoint with consumers, and whether or not the reader opens it, the brand may stay top of mind by appearing in the subscriber’s inbox at a regular time interval. However, this doesn’t mean brand awareness stops with subscribers. The best newsletters may be forwarded along to friends and teams, the email equivalent to word-of-mouth marketing. And word of mouth maystill be one of the most effective forms of marketing.

Newsletter Content Has Longevity

While social media marketing is ephemeral, newsletter marketing tends to have a longer shelf life. Email marketing may allow the consumer to receive the marketing message and content at a time that's most convenient for them.

Email Is the New "Now" Channel

With the saturation of smartphones, it’s easier than ever for brands to reach consumers on the go for targeted communications. According to the Salesforce study, one-third of subscribers read emails on mobile devices at least 50 percent of the time. That may be perfect for delivering digestible newsletter content on the go.

Because of the mobile access, long shelf-life and brand awareness opportunity, newsletter marketing will likely continue to grow as one of the brand marketers’ channels of choice for deepening consumer relationships.


For more insights on how to help effectively tell your business story, access this DIY Guide to Content Marketing.


Read more articles on marketing and sales.

A version of this article was originally published on July 29, 2015.

Photo: Getty Images