Before you start a newsletter, ask yourself this
Before you start a newsletter, ask yourself this

By on in Content, Email Marketing

Before you start a newsletter, ask yourself this

Marketing is, for better and for worse, an industry influenced by trends.

A savvy marketing team knows how to use trends to its advantage. Attuned to the zeitgeist, they can lean into what’s happening in the culture to bolster a brand’s positioning, messaging, and visual identity.

On the downside, trends come and go, and many brands waste time chasing the “hot new thing” only to find it’s not so hot for them. (Remember Clubhouse?)

It feels like newsletters are having a moment right now. We live in the era of Substack and Patreon, and when LinkedIn announced its newsletter feature, seemingly everyone clamored to create one.

This new trend toward newsletters is built on firm bedrock—newsletters have long been an essential component of email marketing, and emails remain a highly effective way to reach your audience. So while newsletters as a concept are unlikely to fizzle, you should consider the deeper meaning and logistics involved in embracing the current newsletter trend before you dive in.

If you’re thinking about starting (or reviving) your brand’s newsletter, here’s where to start.


Newsletters 101

The first question any marketing team needs to ask before launching a newsletter is, “Do we have the bandwidth to take this on?”

Inherent in a newsletter is regular distribution. If you don’t have the time to consistently create and publish content, then stop right there.

There is nothing worse than doing a splashy newsletter launch only to ghost your readers three weeks later. It’s not a good look, dropping the ball after promising to maintain regular communication.

If you’re dead-set on starting a newsletter, make sure you have the internal team or external support to keep it up and running.

Next, consider your angle. People are bombarded by content every day. If you’re going to ask to occupy space in their digital world, you need something good to say. Instead of thinking about what the newsletter can do for your brand, think about how it can deliver value for your audience.

On a related note, challenge yourself to really differentiate your newsletter from your sales-focused content. Newsletters aren’t about your latest offer or new product launch; they’re an opportunity to share knowledge and resources with your readers. How does this educational output differ from the rest of your marketing materials in tone, design, and messaging?

Finally, consider where your audience hangs out online. Distributing your newsletter in a place where your ideal customers already gather is the best way to expand your readership.

With all that in mind, let’s review some of the most popular newsletter distribution options to see if one might fit your needs.


The classic newsletter: Email

Email remains a wildly effective marketing channel. The average email open rate across industries is about 33%, which means one out of every three recipients is opening your email newsletter. Pretty good odds!

The other major benefit to starting an email newsletter is that you have full control over the publishing platform and—perhaps even more crucially—the first-party data.

When someone signs up for your email newsletter, they hand over valuable information: name, contact details, maybe even why they’re interested in your brand. And because they opted in to communications from you, you can also contact them directly about other things (read: you can send them other marketing materials).

The one major downside to email newsletters is that they require a bit more effort on your part to create and maintain. You’ve got to select an email marketing service, design your newsletter template, and QA test your messages to ensure everything looks great before you send.


The B2B brand’s newsletter: LinkedIn

LinkedIn launched its newsletter feature in March 2022. Today, there are tens of thousands of newsletters on the platform.

For B2B brands that already rely on LinkedIn to score face time with prospects, it makes sense to publish a newsletter in a place where you’ve fostered those connections.

LinkedIn makes it easy to invite your existing followers to subscribe to your newsletter. Plus, since the content is discoverable by others, you can get the word out to strangers about your publication.

The main drawback to any newsletter built on a third-party platform is that you give up your access to that sweet, sweet first-party data. Even if you do manage to cobble together information about a prospect from their LinkedIn profile, you can’t send them marketing emails without their opt-in. It adds a layer of complexity to reaching your subscribers through other means.


If you’re dead-set on starting a newsletter, make sure you have the internal team or external support to keep it up and running.

The thought leader’s newsletter: Substack

Founded in 2017, Substack quickly became the go-to place for thought leaders and influencers to share their thoughts, build their personal brand, and monetize their regular content.

The platform even set off panic in the world of big media when some journalists left behind paid gigs at stalwart institutions in favor of self-publishing on Substack.

Because of its reputation as a place for independent thinkers to grow their followings, it might not be the right fit for your business newsletter. But if your brand has a founder or other prominent voice in the company who wants to bolster their public profile (and, by extension, your brand’s), Substack might be the place for them.

One benefit it touts over other third-party platforms is its approach to data and ownership: “On Substack, you own your mailing list, subscriber payments, and intellectual property. If you decide to leave, you’ll take what you’ve built with you.”

But, as with LinkedIn, there’s still that issue of your audience being siloed on the platform, away from your other marketing channels. It may make it harder for you to reach them, and for them to find you.


The wildcard newsletter: Medium

Medium is an interesting player in the newsletter space. What it lacks in buzziness, it makes up for in longevity. Medium has been around since 2012, and tons of high-profile people have used it to get their ideas out there. Barack Obama regularly publishes there, and newsletters like Startup Grind have hundreds of thousands of followers.

And they’ve got another thing going for them: While other newsletter platforms have search features or hashtags to help interested parties find your content, Medium adds a human element. It hires a team of curators who read through self-published content and select high-quality stuff for wider distribution with interested readers on the site. This can help get your newsletter in front of new people who might not even know to look for it.

Remember, finding the right newsletter platform is important, but it’s only part of the work. Far more crucial is ensuring you have the support to pull off regular publication and the right angle to make your newsletter content a must-read.


If you need support with your newsletter (of the logistic, creative, or emotional variety), we’re here.