According to research performed in September by the Nielsen Norman Group, an Internet user experience and usability research firm, e-mail newsletters are still a highly effective way to maintain customer relationships on the Internet. However, due to overflowing in-boxes, users are becoming more selective with their information consumption.
Due to a perceived overload of information, “people are getting extremely choosy about which newsletters they’ll allow into their overflowing inboxes,” says the report. “Of course, this again increases the need for publishers to pay attention to their newsletters’ usability and to design for scanability and fast access.” (For more information on the study, visit: www.useit.com/alertbox/newsletters.html.)
• On average, users maintained 3.1 e-mail accounts each, using different accounts for different purposes.
• Many users sign up for specific e-mail accounts to collect newsletters they’re less trustful of. “It’s imperative to convince users that your newsletter belongs in a higher-priority account,” says the report, which adds that you can accomplish this by offering a high-quality value proposition in the newsletter’s subscription interface.
• Thanks to higher storage capacities of e-mail services, users are holding on to more information. This increases a newsletter’s potential long-term value. “Although your newsletters don’t need full-fledged SEO, you should consider how users might want to retrieve old issues in the months or years to come,” says the report.
• If users don’t care about the underlying technology, using technical terminology only acts as a repellent. According to the study, 82 percent of users have no idea what RSS means. “It’s better to use terms that indicate what the concept does for users. In this case, ‘news feed’ does this far better than ‘RSS,’” says the report.