Before we continue I think it’s important to define what type of newsletter I’m going to be talking about. There are basically two styles of newsletters, one with exclusive content, and another that is just an update telling you to go read this. Basically, email as notifications instead of RSS.
For this post, I’m talking about the former. Newsletters with exclusive content and it seems like over the last year that style has really taken off. But does it make sense for you to do that?
First why are you creating a newsletter in the first place? If you are like me you are doing it just as a way of reaching the audience where they are. With a side effect of having a direct connection when you launch your next big thing.
I think that is great and fully stand behind that. However, you can do that without exclusive content. Offer some other type of incentive and as long as people trust you they will signup.
Where these newsletters break down for me is with so many going this route I can’t keep up. If you instead write the same thing on your own site then I can link to it, share it, and put it in my read later service.
If you insist on giving subscribers exclusive content why not email it, then two days later publish on your site. This is what Paul Jarvis does with much success. This gives them the feeling of being special while still having the ability for others to read the articles.
I have to agree with him and I’m guilty too. I first started my newsletter with exclusive content but later switched to just being a curated list because I didn’t want to have my content spread all over the place and coming up with unique content every week was difficult.
To quote Ben Brooks:
To me newsletters feel like creating a clique within your existing readership. Perhaps a good way to get an idea of how many people are super loyal, and thus willing to buy things from you, but not much good for anything else beyond that
I honestly think the best use of a newsletter today is either to curate links/content or to be used a way of notifying people once you have published something new. Unless you are writing something you prefer private.
What about you? Do you enjoy getting newsletters with exclusive content?