Why Email Newsletters Are Dead: The Marketing Coroner Explains

Newsletters lost their mojo several years ago. They have low open rates and even lower response rates. Here’s why.

A typical newsletter is a collection of unrelated information: industry news, product update announcements, tips & tricks, new hires/departures, upcoming events and possibly some form of sales pitch. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of such a newsletter. How much of this information is actually relevant to you as a recipient?

The content you’d assemble into a newsletter will all be useful to someone, but as a collection only a fraction of it is useful to each recipient. Sending content perceived as irrelevant is a one-way ticket to increased opt-outs and tune-outs.

The answer is to segment your recipients based on what would be useful to them. Break that newsletter up and distribute the content to recipients who will appreciate it via a drip or lead nurturing campaign. You’ll see your open, click and conversion rates heading in the right direction quickly.


The road to better marketing is through greater relevance.

Learn how to make that happen.

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  • http://www.crooksadvertising.com Michael Crooks

    Messages relating specifically to the wants, needs and desires of the recipient is the essence of effective marketing and advertising. The problem is, many marketers don’t want to work hard enough to effectively target their audience with a relevant message. And then they blame the medium.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/bobhebeisen Bob Hebeisen

    I don’t agree that e-newsletters are dead. For example, I participate in a number of LinkedIn discussion groups. I get a weekly email recapping the discussions underway — essentially, this is an e-newsletter. I love it because it frees me from the need to go on the discussion forum every day to check the discussions, and allows me to engage in only the discussions I am interested in. The same can be done for product blogs with heavy publication schedules or news sites. The content is not unrelated (it’s at least loosely related), and the aggregation is a valuable service that makes it easier and more convenient for interested parties to consume it. The best way forward is to give your audience the flexibility to consume your information the way *they* want it.

  • http://www.Net-Results.com hjohnson

    Hi Bob, thanks so much for your input. We couldn’t agree more. Our article was intended to illustrate that the newsletters of the past have long since outlived their purpose. The importance of providing useful and informative content the way they want it, as you say, is exactly the point we were trying to make. Your LinkedIn reference is an excellent example. Segmented content that will engage and inform recipients is what Net-Results always tries to provide. We believe relevant content always has a future.

  • http://www.progressiveautomations.com actuators @ kairaaustin

    Informative Blog …Thanks for sharing.

  • http://e-newsletters.com Kathryn

    I don’t think the email newsletter is dead; but it is changing. Publishers must deliver valuable information to subscribers. Most folks suffer from information overload (from twitter feeds, FB messages, text and email messages, etc.) If the publishers synthesizes the information (and provides context), the e-newsletter can still be welcomed in the in-box. With the great email software available, you can often segment your main list into areas of interest. We’ve also found that you can greatly increase the results of an email newsletter by combining social media out-reach (and just wrote an ebook on that).

    • Jen

      Speaking as a consumer and not a marketer, I do not read email newsletters any longer. I am on Facebook and Twitter, and yes there are a lot of things to read there. But I do not have “overload” at these portals. They are my “go-to” spots for quick updates about everything of interest to me. If I am interested in a company or product, I will “like” it on Facebook and read the updates — and I can immediately interact with the company on these sites if I have questions. I’ve “unsubscribed” from all newsletters and marketing lists. Writing a “better” newsletter isn’t going to do you much good with me. Some people might still prefer them, but they are just one, limited, tool that should be combined with the more vibrant, customizable and interactive social media sites, if you really want to reach more people.

  • http://www.b12leads.com Duncan Macdonald

    Would agree in some respects but the purpose of a newsletter in some cases is to build brand and standing.

    Although not always relevant to all recipients, news and content on other areas of the business that is typically included in a newsletter and helps build brand and re-enforce credentials of the company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/trevor.rees Trevor Rees

    The company I work for has many enewsletters. They are not that well done and the information is not that targeted. Yet, the average open rate is 30%. Given a cost of sending that is under $2 for 1K emails sent, it’s hard to argue against sending them.