Refashioning the Email Newsletter

Mediashifts Tim Cigelske writes this week about a resurgence in popularity for the emailed newsletter, and how media organisations can use it to drive traffic.

Cigelske points to the experience of the University of North Carolina student newspaper, which has boosted it’s online reading figures by several hundred more clicks per day after launching a newsletter. This from the publications editor;

For Weekman, email allows her to go beyond the 140-character limit or the whims of the Facebook algorithm and write more freely and openly in a longer format. “I love the idea of breaking down and presenting news in a fun and relatable voice,” she said. “Newsletters allow us to plug what stories we think are the most important, deliver them directly to people and use a voice we know students will enjoy.”

Many people in the media industry might have thought email had been replaced by social media and the distributed news platforms. However it seems newsletters are being used to draw in a young (and particularly a female) audience rather than simply being there to appeal to readers that prefer a more ‘old fashioned’ technology.

According to Nieman Lab, The New York Times has a new email newsletter aimed at college students called The Edit. The New York Times reports on a new newsletter which will be aimed at teenage girls and hopes to provide a safe environment away from the demoralising nature of popularity statistics and online trolls. The Guardian is particularly interested in the opportunities a newsletter offers to female writers and publishes this discussion between Hannah Ewens and Leah Harper about the merits (or otherwise) of finding a place to write and publish without the threat of online abuse.

Returning to Mediashifts Tim Cigelske it seems there is also a powerful economic argument for the use of the newsletter as a driver of traffic from any audience. BuzzFeed has twelve newsletters which it uses to boost viewing figures with surprising results. This from BuzzFeeds Katie Notopoulos;

“Consider this: The amount of traffic BuzzFeeds gets from our newsletters is almost as much as we get from Twitter. Not just our own Twitter account, but all of Twitter.”


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