The newsletter approach: how publishers get and retain subscribers


The media industry has undergone many changes since the advent of the Internet. With the increase in available content and the reduction in attention span, publishers are finding new ways to reach consumers. While several methods have been deployed, the email newsletter is one approach that seems to have stalled.

Many publishers have seen that newsletters are the most effective means of reaching readers. With it, media companies minimize their reliance on their ads and social media algorithms to get directly in front of readers.

With newsletters, publishers can organize content that matches the preferences of their readers. It gives readers an overview of what is available on the publisher’s website. Most media companies like The New York Times, Medium, etc. use this form of newsletter to give insight into what they have. These newsletters usually contain headlines and excerpts with links that give users the ability to read the articles.

But newsletters aren’t just about curating content for readers. It is also a way of attracting new subscribers for most publishers. Free newsletters typically ask readers to click on links that take them to a paywall, forcing them to subscribe to access the information.

Apart from these free newsletters, many media now offer exclusive newsletters to subscribers. Several publishers, including New York Magazine, Quartz and The Los Angeles Times, have adopted the newsletters. Recently the New York Times launched 18 newsletters exclusively reserved for subscribers. According to the media outlet, around 15 million people read at least one of its 50 newsletters per week.

Other publishers are also expanding their newsletters or launching new ones. For example, after its survey showed that 75% of its subscribers access most content via email, Quartz announced that it basing its subscription program on its newsletters. New York Magazine also launched five newsletters in 2020, and The Information launched its free newsletter in March.

Beyond marketing newsletters and direct financial benefits to publishers, it’s also a way for readers to maintain an emotional connection with the brand. The simple act of opening an email newsletter every day makes the reader more intimate with the publisher’s brand. So in a way this helps reduce the churn rate and therefore is a retention strategy for most media.

Publishers now analyze newsletter data to determine readership engagement. With platforms like Substack poaching writers from media companies, newsletters give publishers an opportunity to level the playing field. In an age when mobile devices and reading email are now part of our daily routines. , it looks like newsletters are here to stay.

Posted on August 24, 2021


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