Trends in the market are influencing how CMP’s Business Technology Group produces its e-mail newsletter products. According to Stephen Wellman, editorial director of e-mail newsletters for the group, broad-market, high-circ newsletters are giving way to smaller, more targeted products. While not being abandoned entirely, the bigger newsletters are falling short of addressing the varied content needs of CMP’s customer base. So the group is beginning to roll out new e-mail newsletters on niche topics with circulation in the range of 15,000 recipients—10 percent of the distribution of the standard, broadly-focused newsletters.

“What we’re discovering is that the real trend is toward smaller e-mail newsletter lists and more targeted e-newsletter products,” says Wellman. It’s a trend that reflects a growing desire among customers to receive only the information they need. And if publishers effectively provide the right content, then engagement will follow.

“The demands of newsletter maintenance are such that you have to have a really engaged newsletter readership toda,” adds Wellman. “You can’t just go and get as many people as you can and put them on three or four products and just continue to e-mail them all the time. They don’t have time for it, they don’t want it, and they need something that’s more relevant to their daily workflow.”

So while the bigger e-mail newsletters will continue to be supported, the niche products will be rolling out at about one per month. The theory goes that if readers receive only the content that fits their daily workflow, they’ll be more likely to engage. So far, it’s working. New products are getting an average of an 11 percent clickthrough rate, well beyond the average clickthrough rate of 7 percent across the rest of the group’s newsletters.

Blog Newsletters?
As part of his e-newsletter expansion plan, Wellman is adding newsletters tied to specific blogs at the rate of two per month. “We’re trying to fuel the fire by serving up small newsletters to address our blog sites. Blog-based newsletters that allow readers to get deeper into a blog,” says Wellman.

Why not just let readers stay up-to-date with RSS feeds? They can, but newsletters, as it turns out, are still a preferable vehicle to receive updates. “Every major blog out there offers daily or weekly newsletter options,” says Wellman. “And the RSS feeds interestingly enough didn’t get rid of the newsletters, and in many cases the RSS feeds became the springboard from which to launch the newsletter. There are still many readers out there who, while they may use RSS, still prefer the convenience of an e-mail product.”

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