My Faith In Email Newsletters Restored
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Our previous company made a lot of different software for publishers, CMS, ecommerce, classifieds, etc. But by far the most frustrating was our email newsletter business.
Every client wanted an email newsletter. There weren't any newsletter services in 2001, so we made our own. And it was ok. Eventually the whitelisting and spam issues killed the product. Luckily, Feedburner and Constant Contact started up and we switched most of our clients off of the 1871 platform (some still use it.)
But for me, email newsletters were dead. RSS made it easier to get what you want. Spammers made it easy to get what you didn't want. And Bacn clogged my inbox.
I have been telling clients and customers to stop with the newsletters. And when they want them, I've recommended the old, unchanged Feedburner RSS-to-email system or MailChimp service (which is overly confusing).
I thought newsletters were dead... but now I'm not so sure.
If you can treat your email newsletter as a direct letter to your readers, you can cultivate an audience. Even publishers can do this. The newsletter can't just be an afterthought, it needs to be a focus. The readers are usually your most dedicated readers, you should treat them that way. Jason Calacanis does a great job of this with Launch.
And you can do that with just about any email service. I still recommend MailChimp, mostly because it's free for small lists. (I wish they'd improve their interface).
Also, there's SailThru. They've got a pretty fabulous email newsletter system (and recently announced new funding). I never miss the BusinessInsider.com email that they send and always open it. There isn't another newsletter that I can say that about.
I bet that their open rate is much higher than other providers.
Also it looks like they provide some content targeting service, both for the newsletters and on their clients' sites.
So don't give up on newsletters... checkout SailThru.
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