Editorial email newsletters are helping businesses grow
Editorial email newsletters enrich the content strategy as part of a mix to engage and align the audience to the company's values
Many anticipated the demise of email at the hands of real-time collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. In the context of corporate communication this sounds like a pretty solid anticipation. In the context of personal email, generic, uninformative commercial content has probably turned many away from their inboxes.
It has been going as far as having Basecamp – the company behind the popular project management software suite – develop the new email service Hey. The idea is that people, tired of spam, random sales pitches, unexpected email newsletters, would be willing to pay for a minimalistic email service bundled with a consent feature that allows to manually allow new senders to reach their inboxes.
Gmail has had a similar feature for quite some time now, just slightly different – as newsletters, promotions and automated updates would be triaged by Gmail’s algorithm and would land in different inboxes. I’d give Hey the primacy in adopting human intelligence over artificial intelligence with their new service.
With the fight over regaining control of our inboxes raging, and the falling effectiveness of display advertising caused by the use of ad blockers as consequence of poor-quality display ads, new types of email publishers started emerging and are now thriving in a new space. Editorial email newsletters that provide medium and long-form content that’s informative, engaging and unique.
The inbox started becoming a quieter – offline first – place to consume content without distractions.
It proved that the lack of distractions like display advertising, secondary and tertiary columns, “you might like” sections populated from content-sharing networks, did the trick of regaining the audience's attention. It also proved that an easy and familiar process of downloading the content locally to be consumed later was the way to go for quality content.
The likes of Roden, Below the Fold, Morning Brew, and many others are engaging thousands of users with carefully crafted and appealing, easily readable content. It also started to make a financial upshift with readers willing to pay a small subscription fee to be pushed valuable content – a practice that seemed hopelessly in decline for most publishers trying to make sense of the shift from paper to digital.
Email – a 39-year-old protocol – went through very little changes and transformations. It has had its ups and downs and was just recently subjected to fierce competition from chats, social media and other attention-grabbing tools. It seemed hopeless, until new ways of fixing its use came together, making it change forever without changing its underlying workings. Change has been operated in the user experience, and email is now stronger than ever.
New email technologies are in the workings and interestingly, all the new technologies seem to head in the direction of providing a lifeline to emails as a service. AMP Emails aren’t widespread available yet but are making great strides: the idea that an email can be dynamic and can provide interaction gives high hopes to marketeers. MJML aims at fixing broken renderings by standardizing the email generation with content blocks applying the best practices to fail-safe display in a variety of email clients including Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and others.
It all represents a new and exciting opportunity for brand communication.
Successful editorial email newsletters show clear indicators that can point companies to adopt a content strategy where editorial emails are an important part of the mix.
Content producers like Craig Mod – who has been contributing to transform digital publishing with the subcompact publishing manifesto from 2012 – have been consistently engaging with their audience with respect and a straightforward approach. They have been putting content first and found the way of removing the unnecessary, focusing on aligning their narrative with an honest offering that attracts specific audiences and doesn’t confuse.
No matter what the topic is – an editorial email newsletter can have a broad or a very narrow scope. It can serve as a platform for tutorials, insights, essays. It can also be a conversation starter when coupled with calls to action that resonate with the niche that it serves.
Jeff Jarvis – a journalist and associate professor of journalism – has been promoting the idea that journalism and its business viability will be supported in the future if it makes the shift to become content as service. Content shall serve a scope that’s useful, unique and valuable. It needs to provide a value that’s recognisable.
At a similar level, brands engaging with audiences by producing content should look at creators – the creators that have been fighting and won the battle for attention. The ones that emerged have been able to find their voice, have been doing so consistently and have become valuable to the eyes of their audience. They did so by aligning their narrative and values to the ones of their audience.
Editorial emails as part of a modern content strategy
There’s an extremely recognizable signal to be captured. Advertising is shifting towards quality content production built on the premises of consistently applying a long term content strategy. Technologies are adapting and are providing the supporting information to get to know the audience and to continuously adjust.
Reach Out has been consulting on this strategy and has been developing the systems to deploy the strategy for publishers and various types of purpose-driven organizations. It has resulted in a vision supported by data on interactions that is transformative of the approach to marketing. The metrics and the results changed as a result of the insights given by business results once compared to the actions.
The theory that the long tail of content is once again confirmed: results take some time to be visible and aiming at building loyalty and alignment is the key to improve the bottom line. By building loyalty and adjusting with the ultimate goal of stickiness in mind, creators and brands can reach highly engaged prospects and build brand recognition.
Data-driven audience recognition
Ultimately, it’s in the usability and quality of the content that’s produced. Focus on delivering a magazine-style message that resonates with the target audience makes the brand seen as authoritative and authentic. Contextualized content is the other key ingredient. In order to be relevant, brands will need to adapt to their multiple segments, generating multiple content types and verticals to be delivered to different audiences.
An effective integration with the many information repositories marks the fundamental step towards being able to effectively reach out to the right audience in the right context, all the time. Reach Out has been working on software tools to integrate data in CRM systems with data in e-shopping systems, email newsletter systems, analytics providers and offline interactions. Building an integrated system is a challenge of discovery and process and bears its fruits in the long term. We have been doing so with a variety of clients at many levels, consulting on the approach that makes the most sense to balance results and overhead.
It is a new process of discovery and requires adapting in a more socially-responsive environment. Given the many challenges these days, change can certainly benefit many, and changing with the audience is the key to preserving and improving the alignment between brand (or mission) and consumer.
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