The rise of the plain-text email newsletter

“Modern designs are impersonal and they signal transactional relationships — especially after the holiday onslaught of retail emails we’ll all be drowning in soon enough.”

TL;DR:

  • With a 45-to-1 ROI, 2021 is the year to invest more resources into editorial email strategy.
  • 2021 is the year you remove the word automate from your newsletter strategy.
  • 2021 is the year newsletters replace the homepage as the new digital A1.
  • 2021 is the year the simple plain-text email makes a comeback.
  • 2021 is the year we look beyond engagement and into post-click audience building.

A-U-D-I-T

Pull out the red pen and start crossing out what’s no longer working. Do not go into 2021 with the mentality of “this is how we’ve always done it.” This year has shown us that we need to adjust how we serve our audiences.

Pull all the email data you can for the past three years. If the data is showing you that no one’s reading your sports content in email, pandemic or not, then nix that newsletter. Find out what other channels resonate more with that audience, create a strategy around serving them there, and invite those newsletter subscribers to join you.

Do this for all your newsletters. Commit to developing a more intentional strategy around your newsletters that have high engagement, retention and loyalty rates.

Innovate > automate

If you think automating your daily and weekly newsletters will take work off your plate, you’re wrong. They’ll make your job harder when your subscribers start tuning out and unsubscribing — and you’ll have nothing to show for all your work at the end of the year.

The next time you think of automating a newsletter, instead think of how you can innovate. Innovation sometimes looks like subject-line testing, removing content from the lineup that’s not performing, suppressing chronic non-openers for a few sends, developing segments, implementing re-engagement emails, and trusting your news judgment on what your subscribers need in the moment.

Little black (and white) email

Less is always more. Modern designs are impersonal and they signal transactional relationships — especially after the holiday onslaught of retail emails we’ll all be drowning in soon enough.

Redefine your relationship with your subscriber via the more simple and intimate: plain text. Plain text is where it’s at, my friends. And if you insist on an image, go ahead and add a simple header to that email — but that’s it. Use your good old print-days typography and layout skills to weave a story via email.

Go beyond the click and toward the share

Curation and engagement are now the bare minimum required to keep anyone’s attention past the welcome email. Think beyond the click and toward the share for increased retention and loyalty rates. You want your subscribers to rally their network toward your publication by sharing signup links on their socials, group chats, and the online communities they’ve invested in. Nurture them toward these actions with carefully crafted retention journeys and loyalty programs.

Jacqué Palmer is a senior content strategist focused on newsletters for Gannett.

TL;DR:

  • With a 45-to-1 ROI, 2021 is the year to invest more resources into editorial email strategy.
  • 2021 is the year you remove the word automate from your newsletter strategy.
  • 2021 is the year newsletters replace the homepage as the new digital A1.
  • 2021 is the year the simple plain-text email makes a comeback.
  • 2021 is the year we look beyond engagement and into post-click audience building.

A-U-D-I-T

Pull out the red pen and start crossing out what’s no longer working. Do not go into 2021 with the mentality of “this is how we’ve always done it.” This year has shown us that we need to adjust how we serve our audiences.

Pull all the email data you can for the past three years. If the data is showing you that no one’s reading your sports content in email, pandemic or not, then nix that newsletter. Find out what other channels resonate more with that audience, create a strategy around serving them there, and invite those newsletter subscribers to join you.

Do this for all your newsletters. Commit to developing a more intentional strategy around your newsletters that have high engagement, retention and loyalty rates.

Innovate > automate

If you think automating your daily and weekly newsletters will take work off your plate, you’re wrong. They’ll make your job harder when your subscribers start tuning out and unsubscribing — and you’ll have nothing to show for all your work at the end of the year.

The next time you think of automating a newsletter, instead think of how you can innovate. Innovation sometimes looks like subject-line testing, removing content from the lineup that’s not performing, suppressing chronic non-openers for a few sends, developing segments, implementing re-engagement emails, and trusting your news judgment on what your subscribers need in the moment.

Little black (and white) email

Less is always more. Modern designs are impersonal and they signal transactional relationships — especially after the holiday onslaught of retail emails we’ll all be drowning in soon enough.

Redefine your relationship with your subscriber via the more simple and intimate: plain text. Plain text is where it’s at, my friends. And if you insist on an image, go ahead and add a simple header to that email — but that’s it. Use your good old print-days typography and layout skills to weave a story via email.

Go beyond the click and toward the share

Curation and engagement are now the bare minimum required to keep anyone’s attention past the welcome email. Think beyond the click and toward the share for increased retention and loyalty rates. You want your subscribers to rally their network toward your publication by sharing signup links on their socials, group chats, and the online communities they’ve invested in. Nurture them toward these actions with carefully crafted retention journeys and loyalty programs.

Jacqué Palmer is a senior content strategist focused on newsletters for Gannett.

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