You're probably leaving money on the table...
Updated: Apr 19
By John Wilpers
Co-Founder, Katahdin Media Management
Just guessing here, but there’s a good chance you’re leaving money on the table with your newsletter strategy.
Presuming, of course, you have one.
No matter what kind of publisher you are — large or small, B2C or B2B, niche-focused or general interest — you should not only have a newsletter, you should also have multiple newsletters for all the sub-niches in their niche.
And don’t say you’re already too niche to have any sub-niches. No such thing. (I’ll talk about how to find those sub-niches next week.)
Not having a newsletter, or not having a variety of newsletters catering to your sub-niche communities represents lost revenue, lost potential new subscribers, lost ecommerce opportunities.
To be clear, newsletters are not the silver bullet that will solve all your woes, but taken together, they can deliver revenue, subscribers, and ecommerce.
Also, there are good newsletters and bad newsletters. Aggregating content is out. Column-like monologues with a personal voice are in. They embed links to the publisher's content and beyond. A good newsletter is like a trusted friend or colleague providing pre-vetted, curated information, and the voice should reflect that.
Taking a cue from a sonnet by Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Newsletters, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Newsletters drive subscriptions: New York magazine GM of Consumer Revenue Jason Sylva told Digiday that newsletter subscription conversions are “exponentially higher” than an “anonymous web user,” or a person coming to the website via other channels.
Newsletters deliver valuable data that can be leveraged: With third-party cookies about to disappear, you need first-party data. Newsletters deliver personal reader data and behavior patterns, and more if you also use newsletters to do periodic surveys. That data, especially if it leads to identifying narrow areas of interest (sub-niches) within your market can be leveraged to launch new newsletters, attract advertisers, sell products, drive subscriptions, create new products, etc.
Newsletters are lucrative: Every newsletter that is delivered can carry a targeted ad impression that can anchor a digital buy with specific content parameters.
Newsletters drive traffic: Most publishers say the largest source of traffic is their newsletter(s). Quartz reported that 75% of its paying subscribers were driven to most of Quartz’s content from their inbox.
Newsletters are habit-forming: If they are good and come every day or week at the same time, they become “appointment reading”.
Newsletters are branded: Arriving under your name, they carry the credibility and authority of your brand, which, of course, transfers to your partners and advertisers.
Newsletters are targeted: By subscribing, readers are telling you they are qualified leads for your and your advertisers’ content.
Newsletters are welcomed: By opting-in, readers are saying the content fills a need. Thus they are more likely to be receptive to relevant messaging.
Newsletters are cost effective: With no paper or printing costs and an incredibly efficient delivery system, newsletters are one of our most cost-effective solutions.
Newsletter ads generate quality leads: Because they are welcome, and targeted, newsletters are highly effective tools for generating conversions.
Newsletters are measurable: They deliver metrics for evaluating your media effectiveness and lessons on how to optimize your messaging.
Newsletters take advantage of the ubiquity of email. Almost everyone has an email account and checks it regularly.
Newsletters are a push strategy. You don’t have to wait for people to come to you.
Newsletters are “finishable”: They are quick, concise, and can be read in minutes (the Washington Post calls one email “The Seven” because it can be finished in seven minutes.
Newsletters are not subject to the algorithms of the platforms: No sudden, costly surprises forcing you to scramble.
Next week, we’ll talk about next steps, the most important of which is mining your existing audience for those sub-niches.
(Next Tuesday morning: How to find niches within your existing audience base, no matter how niche you might already be. And, if you’re skeptical, no, we haven’t reached “peak newsletter” saturation yet.)