Newsletters are having their hype curve moment, just as podcasts did a few years back. In another wave of digital innovation circling back round in the same way as we see fashion or music do its thing, newsletters are once again in vogue, and there’s good reason.
Our relationship with email
As it stands, the inbox is the primary home of the newsletter, which is why our relationship with it is important.
The world of email is a funny one; archaic in its own digital right, it’s trusty, free, and it’s consistent too, as we acknowledge the ability to carry our email address from platform to platform, device to device. Because email is an open platform, it’s durable. But due to this longevity and in many respects, lack of innovation, our inboxes are weighed down and overburdened with comms. Combine this with shoddy personalisation, all flowing into one point, and email fatigue becomes very real.
Outsmarting the algorithms
Yet despite the negatives, information overload isn’t unique to email and in fact offers more control, and that’s partly why newsletters are having a moment.
Whether it’s a personal essay style piece, or a ‘grab bag of links’ to inspire the community to delve in further, newsletters meet the readers where they already are: the inbox. By offering a direct form of engagement which lives outside the realm of algorithm controlled content, they offer a much lower barrier to entry, and one that’s controlled and opted in (or out), 100% by you.
And as with the rise of podcasts, newsletters offer you the chance to divulge in the type of content you not just want, but need; the difference between consuming to learn vs consuming to escape. In a world where content is king with or without software, that’s pretty unique.
Why newsletters work for brands
But it’s not just the consumers - or in newsletter terms, the community - that benefit from this form of communication. It’s the brands too, and that’s thanks to price.
Experimenting with newsletters as part of a wider marketing strategy is comparatively cheap and offers a way to build consumer loyalty; its biggest investment is time. But unlike many other channels on offer, users in this case may even be willing to pay for them.
Many argue newsletters carry a sense of purpose and belonging offering a chance to build a more intimate relationship between writers and readers. Others assume it’s thanks to their opt-in, direct-to-consumer feel, through to the psychology behind waiting for the next ‘episode’ – perhaps this feels more tangible.
The other side of the hype curve
But as with any technology, innovation or trend, there’s the inevitable and rapid descent down the other side of the hype curve, and it’s at this point we either stick or twist.
One possible cause for this, as explained in this brilliant piece on blogs vs newsletters, is down to the problem and risk of cross-side network effects. As with anything growing in popularity, ‘as long as the number of subscribers increases, so will the number of newsletter publishers.’ This could lead to yet another case of information overload, and become as crowded as social media newsfeeds.
It’ll only happen with purpose
But if it’s a game of stick or twist, newsletters could make it through the slope of enlightenment and into the plough of productivity. But for that to happen, one thing must be kept in mind, and that’s purpose.
As summarised by Deloitte’s 2021 marketing predictions: ‘Organisations should view themselves as human entities that mirror - and support - the values of those they are built to serve.’
It’s not the importance of purpose that’s changed, but our understanding of it, and how operating with a humanity-first approach enables businesses to serve as evangelists of connection, and transparency to build trust. It’s no surprise to see that a purpose-driven company grows on average three times faster than competitors.
Newsletters should inspire people to contribute their personal energy to a collective venture; to be connected by a shared value or values in terms of what an organisation or person believes, what it says, what it means and what it does. It should serve a purpose to help give or inspire purpose – that’s key.
Why we launched The Detox
A few months ago, we launched our own newsletter – The Detox, the home of the future of work. Our goal is to create a community of incredible tech leaders who really care about this future.
It’s detoxed: there are no wasted words, and means we strive for it to be useful, and impactful, which makes it a learning experience for us as a community to continue to explore the world of technology, people and the planet, and how they combine.
We dabbled with the idea months ago, but realised its core purpose wasn’t clear, and the timing wasn’t right. But now we’re proud to watch our community grow. (And if you want, you can sign up here.
It’s fair to say that only time will tell if newsletters do become Blogging 2.0 and stick. It’s up to you if you’d rather twist.