Inbox Zillion

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Email newsletters are the new social media are the new website homepages? In a weird, anachronistic way…that’s what it feels like on the Internet right now. Indeed, when social media feeds were busy growing too overwhelming and homepages too static, newsletters emerged to offer some desirable blend of exactly what you want (assuming you signed up for them in the first place), in regular but manageable installments.

I get newsletters from publications, content blackholes like Pocket and Medium, personality-driven, single-topic Tinyletters…Stylin’ promos from Aritzia and Everlane count too, right?

There’s a lot of chatter and experimentation around emails in my company and the industry in general, and I’m as curious as any to find out…just what is the “best” email strat going forward or at least for this current Internet moment? To get thoughts flowing, I’ve started paying more attention to my own newsletter habits—which ones do I always open, and which do I read in their entirety? These surfaced…

  1. Of a Kind

    – What it is:  Twice-a-week (?) spotlights on emerging  fashion, home, and jewelry designers, plus a weekly digest of cool links/miscellany from founders Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur
    – Sample subject lines (SSLs): “Edition Release: Walnut Teardrop Kitchen Set by Brooke Wade”; “Edition Release: Philodendron Plant Mobile by Natalie Joy”; “10 Things We’re Doing Besides Putting 2016 Behind Us”
    – The format: Big, top spotlight on the product/designer in the subject line, followed by smaller links to other content from the site
    – Efficacy (from my own experience): High, near-100% open rate. I click through  30-50% percent of the time, depending on if I’m interested in the product. I usually click on at least one thing from the weekly link digest.
    – Why: Classic FOMO. I don’t want to miss out on a Cool Design Thing.
  2. “Your Sunday Inspiration” from The Musenl2
    – What it is: A weekly digest of content from the Muse and around the web
    – SSLs: “Your Sunday Inspiration” 
    – The format: Links organized into three categories: “Work Hard,” “Live Smart,” “Play Often” (4 under each)
    Efficacy: Very high, 100% open rate. I typically click through at least half of the links and skim all of them.
    – Why:  File under “good timing.” As it turns out, Sunday is the perfect day for a dose of “make my life better.” (Curbed has a weekly newsletter,”Best Homes of the Week,” that also blasts on Sunday…it’s perhaps less action-oriented, but nonetheless aspirational…)
  3. Pocket Hits 

    – What it is: 
    A daily digest of top, trending stories on Pocket, a link saving app
    – SSLs: “Improve Your Conversations Forever. The Rural Vote’s Disproportionate Slice of Power. Facebook Won Trump the Election”; “Photoshop for Audio. Peter Thiel and the Plot to Murder Gawker. The Devil in the Polling Data” (These always get cut off.)
    – The format: Simple column of 10 links (1 sponsored), each with an image and teaser blurb
    – Efficacy: Very high, 80 to 100 % open rate. I click through and save at least 1 article per email, often 2 or 3
    – Why: More FOMO!!!

  4. Shanghaiist 

    What it is: A daily digest of top stories from Shanghaiist, which publishes local news/happenings in Shanghai and around China
    – SSLs: “Ungrateful son beats up his parents in the street for buying him a ‘too small’ apartment”; “Chinese tourists trash Jeju airport departure hall with ungodly amount of packaging from duty-free purchases” (These always cut off.) 
    Format: The subject line story goes up top enlarged, followed by 3-4 smaller stories; web 1.0 look and feel
    – Efficacy: Relatively high, depends on the exact content, of course, but it’s usually the most controversial/sensational/viral story of the day, so…If I open the newsletter, I always click through.
    – Why: #Viral. Many times it’s a hate-click.

  5. Refinery 29 

    What it is: A daily digest of top stories from the millennial-woman-focused site; I get the general one and the NY-specific one
    SSLs: “The new online shop we want to keep to ourselves…”; “I lived off Trader Joe’s frozen food—& this is what happened”; “I live in NYC—& my 2-bedroom apartment is only $1,875”
    Format: One story up top (usually the subject line) and two columns of an additional dozen links below that
    Efficacy: Relatively high, I’d say 75% open rate and I’m very likely to click through after that; 100% open and click through if it has to do with money matters (goddamn!)
    Why: R29 is shameless about click bait…and it works. They also cover servicey stuff really well—or at least, have amazing servicey headlines that always make me feel like there’s something practical to take away if I just click…They seem to double-down on the things people are responding to (Money Diaries!)…For ex: while they might phrase things differently from week to week,  I can expect a Money Diaries subject line every week and I. always. click.

  6. Investopedia 

    What it is: A digest of articles on…investment…topics 
    SSLs: “11 Financial Steps to Take Before the Holidays”; “How Should Investors React to a President Trump?”;  “Advantages And Disadvantages Of ETFs”
    Format: One main story slightly enlarged up top, with 3 smaller links in a column underneath; also rather web 1.0
    – Efficacy: Average to relatively high, 50-70% open rate
    – Why: More aspirational/FOMO stuff, etc.

  7. Everlane 

    What it is: Regular updates on new apparel/accessories collections from the minimalist brand
    SSLs: “Introducing Our First Puffer Jackets”; “Beautiful. Oversized. Sweaters.”; “Our Cashmere Cabin” 
    Format: Large, pastel-y/muted, linked graphics
    Efficacy: Very high, 100% open rate, almost always click through
    Why: Because I know what to expect and it is what I like to see. Why yes, I do love simple designs, presented with simple but dreamy images that may or may not involve the trendy millennial pink!!! Everlane’s predictable, I’m predictable, it’s a perfect match.

Which newsletters get you clicking every single time? I’d love to know. ALSO WHAT OTHER NEWSLETTERS SHOULD I BE GETTING. (Just subscribed to writer Wei Tchou‘s WendiLetter about Wendi Deng; I’ve only gotten one so far, but I gobbled it up whole. :X)


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