Monday, March 09, 2009
The best newsletter frequency for you

I’ve already discussed how I believe that every magazine website should have a newsletter and be building a database of interested readers, even if you have limited resources to send one out. There’s no better way to communicate with the largest amount of your readers (as RSS is still for the tech-savvy minority). And a recent article in Business Week discusses how newsletters are one of the best sources of online revenue. But once you’re collecting names, the next question becomes: how often should the newsletter be sent?

There are two main points to consider: what your readers will be receptive to, and what your staff can manage.

If you’re running on limited resources, I would recommend a monthly newsletter; less often than that and I don’t think you’re connecting often enough. Remember that it doesn’t have to be “written” per se; it’s more a reminder that you’re there and offering them value than necessarily more content. Plus by contacting readers monthly – and having them visit the site monthly – you’re impacting your metrics every month.

If possible – and if your site’s frequency of updates warrants it (and it should!) – weekly is best. You’ll increase your repeat traffic and keep readers informed of what’s new on your site.

And if you can manage it, you can also consider a daily newsletter. Dailies are tricky, and I wouldn’t want them to be my only newsletter (as many readers would never sign up for one), but they’re a great way to give your most engaged readers extra value. The key is to make them short and sweet. I’m having success with my Best Health Tip of the Day newsletter (a daily quick health tip with three related links), which was partly inspired by Runner’s World’s daily quote newsletter and Martha Stewart’s Cookie of the Day (which doesn’t seem to be on her site right now, although I am still getting it).

Of course, if possible, you may want to consider more than one newsletter, depending on how you want to engage with readers.

And above all, remember the golden rule: don’t annoy your readers – or, here, subscribers. Give them what you said you would and let them unsubscribe easily if they want to. You’ll be rewarded by happy subscribers and lots of click-throughs.

- Kat Tancock
About Me
Kat Tancock
Kat Tancock is a freelance writer, editor and digital consultant based in Toronto. She has worked on the sites of major brands including Reader's Digest, Best Health, Canadian Living, Homemakers, Elle Canada and Style at Home and teaches the course Creating Website Editorial at Ryerson University.
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