Email newsletters are the original electronic publishing format and they are enjoying a real resurgence among established publishers and go-it-alone journalists. But according to a new survey, the newsletter format has its limitations, especially when it comes to making money.
- According to The State of Email Newsletters: 2021 And Beyond, a study by the What If Media Group, 84.1% of consumers are unwilling to pay for newsletters. Conversely, 79.6% would rather their newsletters were ad-supported than pay for ad-free content.
- Not everyone wants email newsletters, free or otherwise. A surprising 52.7% subscribe to no email newsletters at all, either for news or entertainment.
- Of those that do subscribe to email newsletters, 14.7% subscribe to one, 19.4% subscribe to two or three, 5.7% to four or five and 7.5% to five or more.
For this study, What If Media Group surveyed 9,313 U.S. consumers in December 2020. A majority of respondents indicated that, while welcoming ad-supported email newsletters were also problems with the targeting of advertising in newsletters.
- Of concern to advertisers, a minority of the 9,313 U.S. consumers surveyed for the study saw real relevance in newsletter advertising. Only 13.1% said email newsletter advertising was very relevant, although 32.4% felt it was somewhat relevant.
- A significant minority of respondents thought newsletter ads were irrelevant (17.3%, somewhat irrelevant; 11%, very irrelevant). Possibly more worrying, 26% don’t even notice newsletter ads.
- Possibly more worrying, 43.7% of survey respondents said that email newsletters do not influence their shopping decisions.
The positive spin
A majority of the people surveyed appear to question the value of email newsletters, free or paid, and question the relevance of newsletter advertising. But that represents a major opportunity for publishers and advertisers that properly understand and serve the needs and preferences of their audiences.
- A majority of the people surveyed did respond positively to newsletter advertising – 56.4% felt their email newsletter ads were very (12.8%) or somewhat influential (45.6%) to their shopping decisions.
- More than one in ten people (15.9%) would be willing to pay for newsletters. With approximately 100 million people in the US receiving email newsletters, that represents a sizeable market for paid content.
- Of the people that would be willing to pay for email newsletters, almost three quarters ( 71.5%) would pay up to $10, and almost 30% would pay over $10 (14.6%, $11 to $15; 14.4%, more than $15).
Familiar stories. Getting people to pay for content that they are used to getting for free is one of digital publishing’s biggest, and oldest challenges. And, even although research proves ads have an impact on purchasing intent, consumers prefer to see themselves as immune to influence.
But the audience for email newsletters is huge and growing. For publishers and advertisers that work to understand and serve the needs of their audiences better, the opportunity is clear. Newsletter media brand Morning Brew leveraged its tightly focused portfolio of daily emails into a highly engaged audience of 2.5 million modern business leaders and revenues of $20 million.