The Rebirth of Newsletters: Growing Your Mailing List With Exclusive Content
May 9, 2022
⌚ 7 min read
→ Your growth practice
People don’t subscribe to SaaS newsletters to receive boring, corporate updates. They couldn’t care less about your latest blog posts or new feature releases. What they care about, though, is getting access to high-quality educational content they can’t find anywhere else. So stop seeing your newsletters as a distribution channel. Instead, treat newsletters as high-quality, exclusive content your subscribers care to read.
→ Quick explanation
Newsletters are far from being dead.
In 2020, Insider Inc. bought a controlling stake in Morning Brew, a daily email newsletter, at a reported valuation of up to $75M.
The Hustle newsletter, bought by HubSpot in 2021, has over 1.5M readers.
Føljeton, a Danish newsletter launched in 2015, has over +30,000 paying subscribers. The newsletter earns $285,000 per month. Do you know what makes it even more impressive? The fact that we’re talking about a Danish-speaking newsletter. Only 6 million people worldwide speak this language.
I bet you know about Substack, the publishing platform supporting subscription newsletters. But I doubt that you’ve heard the big news: in November 2021, Substack announced over 1 million paid subscriptions to publications.
All these successful newsletters have one thing in common: they’re packed with exclusive content people can’t find anywhere else.
In other words, it’s not about sharing your blog posts or podcast episodes. Successful newsletters work based on creating exclusive content which you share with your email subscribers only.
So, instead of sending company, blog, or product updates, focus on creating exclusive content people can’t get anywhere else than subscribing to your SaaS newsletter.
📓 Newsletters: A written report issued periodically by a business, organization, or institution to present and distribute information or news to people with similar interests to the email sender.
📓 Exclusive content: Unique or episodic pieces of content that aim to inform, educate, and entertain your audiences. This content can’t be found anywhere else than via newsletter subscription.
→ Types of exclusive content
Written series: Thought leadership emails that explore a specific subject through different lenses and angles.
Video tips: Short, relatable videos that educate audiences on a particular topic.
Expert insights: Sharing what industry experts think about different questions or events.
Industry reports: Exclusive and recurrent reports providing insights into a specific industry or subject.
Best practices: A collection of ideas, practices, and insights people can use to achieve the desired outcome.
→ Your growth opportunities
Be purposeful, careful, and thoughtful about the content you’re sharing with your audiences via newsletters. Only this way, you can access multiple growth opportunities, such as:
Break through the clutter. According to Statista: “In 2020, approximately 306 billion emails were sent and received every day worldwide. This figure is projected to increase to over 376 billion daily emails in 2025.” A boring corporate newsletter won’t help you grab your subscribers’ attention.
Position your brand as a thought leader.
Grow your mailing list. Few people care about subscribing to your company blog’s newsletter. A great newsletter, though, will get you more subscribers. For example, the Sales Brief Newsletter by Close has over 400,000 subscribers.
Attract high-quality leads who recognize your thought leadership.
Increase the open rate.How many times did you delete company emails without even opening them? Grabbing people’s attention with a fancy subject line is one thing. But you can’t get people to open, read, and like your emails if you’re not sending them exclusive content.
Be on people’s top of mind. Send newsletters that contain exclusive content to get people to share and talk about the value your brand delivers.
🗃 Case Examples
>> Funnel, automated data collection
Funnel launched the Funnel Tips newsletter that discusses how to use marketing data.
Twice a month, the newsletter subscribers receive a video from Alexander Ross Billington, the Community Growth Manager at Funnel.
The newsletter includes exclusive sales advice, access to free resources, call and email templates, and expert insights.
It’s worth noting that the company is not offering access to past editions.
The Close newsletter has more than 400,000 subscribers.
Finally, you can also find a list of newsletter testimonials from professionals receiving Close’s emails.
>> Zoomph, social audience intelligence & sponsorship measurement
The company launched a weekly newsletter called NFL Weekly Insights. Context: Zoomph tracks all team and league affiliated accounts, highlighting the best performing and unique brand activation and top teams by platform weekly.
The newsletter focuses on brand performance data and analytics.
People can access previous editions. However, the public editions are less detailed than the reports subscribers receive via email.
“Subscribe and download Week 4-6.” That’s the Zoomph newsletter CTA. Apart from subscribing to receive the newsletter, people also receive an incentive, aka a detailed report, they can’t access anywhere else. This practice may increase the subscription rate.
>> Leapsome, Performance Management and Engagement Software
The newsletter contains curated content and exclusive industry highlights.
People can’t easily access the past editions as they’re hidden behind an FAQ toggle. Here’s an example.
It is worth noting that once people add their email to subscribe to the newsletter, they’re invited to join Leapsome’s Slack community.
You can find a Newsletter FAQ on the landing page.
Once people subscribe to the newsletter, they receive a first email explaining what’s happening next. Also, the message ends with the following CTA: “I’d love to hear your feedback! Is there a particular topic that you’d like to see us write about? It would be great to hear your ideas! Just reply to this email.” This practice gives the newsletter a human touch and encourages engagement.
The newsletter contains bite-sized, to-the-point, trend-driven, and actionable local marketing tactics.
Subscribers can access past editions but not via the newsletter landing page. People can find them on the company’s blog, titled “Local Marketing Insider.” Each edition contains a number for easier identification. Here’s an example.
Once people subscribe to Local Marketing Insider, they receive the most popular issue in their inbox.
When subscribing, people are redirected to a different landing page that sets the expectations: “You’re now subscribed to Local Marketing Insider - the enjoyable, bi-weekly, local-marketing-related newsletter for your coffee time.”
>> Hypercontext, a meeting agenda tool for managers
The newsletter frequency is not specified except for the following note: “You’ll only hear from us when we have something interesting to share, and it’s easy to unsubscribe.”
The Hypercontext Newsletter contains two types of content: Trending questions. Using thousands of data points within Hypercontext, the company sends out the most popular 1:1 meeting questions leaders ask their team across four key conversation categories: growth, communication, motivation, and work. Actionable resources. Provides access to management resources, including meeting templates, questions, best-in-class advice, and early access to live sessions.
People don’t have access to past editions.
The subscription CTA contains the following copy: “Companies like HubSpot, Mastercard, and Heineken get their management tips from the Hypercontext blog. You can too.”
The landing page contains newsletter testimonials.
What’s the number one thing our top-of-the-funnel leads want to learn about?
What type of exclusive content can we offer?
► Quick note: You should align the exclusive content you provide via emails with your audience’s learning needs and interests.
There are no big requirements for creating and sending exclusive content via newsletter. Although it will involve a certain degree of effort, this growth strategy shouldn’t take too many resources.
When launching this growth strategy, consistency and quality are the two main requirements you need to ensure.
→ Your action framework
✅ Create the concept of your newsletter.
💡 To consider: You may decide to send one piece of exclusive content, such as an article or a video. Or, you may want to provide a quick list of tips, insights, and benchmarks. It all depends on your audience’s needs and the content type you’ll be delivering.
✅Design the newsletter template.
💡 To consider: If you send multiple elements to your subscribers’ emails, you may want to build an email template to help you write it faster.
For example, your newsletter template may include elements such as:
One industry insight
One industry benchmark/stat
The tweet of the week or month
Three tips on “How to achieve a specific goal?”
One best practice
► Quick note: This is a quick example to illustrate what a newsletter template may look like. It’s up to you to adjust it to your needs and vision.
✅Agree upon the frequency of the newsletter. It can be daily, bi-weekly, weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly. It all depends on the bandwidth of your team. Also, you can follow the example of Hypercontext and send a newsletter when you have something interesting to say. I’m not sure that’s a good practice, though, as consistency is necessary to build trust and reliability.
✅Create a newsletter landing page where people can subscribe.
✅Make available the past editions of the newsletter.
💡 To consider: You may want to ask people to subscribe before accessing the past editions. Meanwhile, you can ungate one newsletter edition as an example.
💥 To remember: You shouldn’t use company newsletters as distribution channels. On the contrary, to succeed and grow your mailing list, you have to treat newsletters as stand-alone exclusive content products focused on educating and entertaining your subscribers.
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