Pulse is a Q&A series answered by and for our members (sometimes anonymous) that provides insights on the important content marketing issues of the day.
A recent article in Business Insider covered how Substack, the subscription newsletter platform, is “aggressively recruiting frustrated Instagram influencers” to join the platform and begin sending email newsletters to their fans.
In recent years, a number of high-profile journalists have left their jobs in mainstream media to start their own paid subscription email newsletter also.
In a digital world where new platforms come and go and when an algorithm tweak changes the entire model, the humble email newsletter has remained resilient. In fact, with the introduction of services like Substack, newsletters have never been more popular.
With this in mind, we wanted to ask our members their views on the email newsletter and how it fits into a content marketing strategy.
Meet this month’s Pulse contributors
Janelle Gilbert, VERB Interactive
Janelle is a Project Manager & Email Marketing Specialist with VERB Interactive — a leader in digital marketing, specializing in solutions for the travel and hospitality industry.
Amy Wheaton, VERB Interactive
Amy Wheaton is the director of marketing at VERB Interactive, providing inspired marketing for the best travel experiences. Our team of 220+ talented marketers focuses on integrated, digitally-led marketing strategies that drive results for cruise lines, ferries, hotels, resorts, and destinations.
Our portfolio of international clients includes Royal Caribbean International, Nassau Paradise Island, Hilton Head Island, Bay & Northumberland Ferries, Pebble Beach Resorts, 1 Hotels and Sea Island.
Anonymous Contributor is a marketing strategist based out of London, UK. They’ve been working in some form of marketing for as long as they care to remember. Their expertise lies in end-to-end strategy, brand positioning and staying anonymous on the internet.
1. Have you seen an increase in the use of email newsletters among brands?
Amy Wheaton, director of marketing at VERB Interactive said, “We’ve seen an increase in email marketing activity amongst our clients, and legacy email clients are looking for ways to optimize and improve their performance as we head into 2023 planning. As a marketing channel email has continued to gain momentum and brands are eager to capitalize on the opportunity.”
Anonymous Contributor said, “We’ve been using email marketing since the day we started and it continues to be a useful channel to the brands we work with today. We haven’t seen an increase in brands using email newsletters but have seen the rise of individuals creating them. Working the same as social media followers, except the author/creator can track, control, and essentially ringfence their audience to protect against changes in trends or social media algorithms.”
2. In light of recent privacy changes have you seen a difference in the data you measure for the newsletters you’re involved in?
Janelle Gilbert, project manager and email marketing specialist at VERB Interactive sai, “Absolutely. Especially with the arrival of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, we no longer focus heavily on our open rates. We have shifted our focus to engagement metrics as measures of success: CTR, Conversion Rate, Email Sharing, List Growth etc.”
Amy said, “We’ve had to implement new permissions settings to ensure our brands are compliant with new privacy changes. In terms of the data we measure, we’re continuing to collect helpful information (with permission!) but as a rule we like to keep our email signups as simple and streamlined as possible to reduce barriers to entry.
Anonymous said, “Absolutely. Changes in the way email opens are recorded have forced us to adopt new ways of success. It’s hard to look at comparisons now as open and click rates are difficult to monitor – so we now look at sign-up and trial rates that follow email newsletters being sent out, as well as unsubscribe rates.”
3. What is the future of the email newsletter within a content marketing framework?
Janelle said, “Automation and In-Depth Personalization. Brands should do a deep dive into their current ESPs and ask themselves: what does this platform provide that I’m not currently taking advantage of? Most platforms offer robust automations that can save valuable time when it comes to A/B testing, drip campaigns, welcome journeys optimizing send times and more.
“Users also expect the emails that land in their inboxes to be tailored to them. This goes beyond using someone’s first name in a subject line—users want to feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Product recommendations based on browsing history, dynamic offers, milestone emails — these are all tactics brands should be employing to keep their audience engaged.”
“Email marketing continues to be an impactful and effective way to develop 1:1 relationships with customers. Tactics like list segmentation, personalization, and automation make it easier than ever for brands to deliver the content subscribers want, when they want it.”
Amy Wheaton, director of marketing at VERB Interactive
Amy said, “Email marketing continues to be an impactful and effective way to develop 1:1 relationships with customers. Tactics like list segmentation, personalization, and automation make it easier than ever for brands to deliver the content subscribers want, when they want it. There’s really no reason to receive a piece of generic email marketing anymore – people have come to expect and demand personalized content, so brands have a responsibility to ensure their email lists are segmented properly and that content, visuals, subject lines, and CTAs are carefully and strategically chosen for audience segments. ”
Anonymous said, “A newsletter is still a great way to keep in touch with your audience and to share relevant information. Content marketing is about engaging with an audience where they ‘hang out’, whether that’s on a social platform, printed materials, or through reading weekly/monthly newsletters. This will only grow as we seek new ways to get in front of the eyeballs of our audience.
“It’s all about relevancy. If the email newsletter continues to be relevant then why won’t it be around in the future? Substack innovated and iterated the email newsletter so what’s to suggest another company would do something better?
“The key benefit of email newsletters is, you control the distribution as long as you own the first-party data (i.e. the email addresses). In a time where third-party data is becoming less useful, there’s no reason to doubt email marketing won’t’ continue to be useful.”