Michael Sippey on Medium:
A theory of email newsletters, in three points. Email newsletters are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and I’ve been thinking about why this is the case:
1. They work because we live in our inbox. Newsletters work because they’re delivered to the app that is on our phones, our tablets, our laptops: email. This delivers an interesting side benefit of dayparting: because we’re always in our inbox, newsletters like The Skimm can build an audience in the morning, and Dave Pell can own the afternoon. (By contrast, blogs I feel are suffering because they’re currently lacking a natural distribution channel: Reader’s dead, Twitter is overwhelming, Facebook algorithms ‘em to /dev/null.)
2. They work because the mental model is simple. Sign up, get things sent to you. Don’t want it anymore? Unsubscribe. And in the meantime, you are in control: want to get alerted as soon as it hits your inbox? Fine. Want to filter it and read it later? Want to forward it to a friend? Fine. Want to reply and deliver vitriol to the sender? Fine.
3. They work because publishers have just a few simple metrics that they can optimize for: subscriber growth/churn, open rate, clickthrough rate. Problem: most reporting tools are still too “campaign” focused (as opposed to longitudinal relationship focused), but given enough time your audience will tell you what works and what doesn’t.