The Subscription Dilemma

The newsletter.

We all subscribe to them for various reasons– a discount, a free drink, maybe we get entered into a competition. Perhaps we actually want to read what has been supposedly curated, or stay updated as to the different events and sales of a brand.

Yet inevitably this list of subscriptions grows, and the majority of these emails are never opened. How many of us run through our emails first thing in the morning and mass delete all those newsletters and updates (half of which we cannot remember subscribing to!) without ever opening them? However we also rarely go to the bother of unsubscribing either.


Email marketing and comms was forecasted to be dying a few years ago, but now it is seeing a resurgence. This is because brands are realising that it’s easier to convert someone who has already registered interest (even if it was a fleeting interest) in your brand. It is a prime space for brand storytelling, building rapport, and for providing strongly tailored and segmented content. People check their emails daily– that makes it a very strong and consistent communication channel, not to mention cost effective!

So from a brand perspective it’s definitely worth it. But that doesn’t mean that people are going to open what you push out, especially if it isn’t ______ (fill in the blank with all those things that keep you from opening an email, like relevant, succinct, eye-catching, formatted for my device, etc).
Those are your blockers.

But it’s not all bad news– this is your opportunity to take all those things that make you delete emails and use them as a checkbox against your own newsletter strategy.

What makes a newsletter ‘newsworthy’ in our eyes? What are those key elements that actually get us to ‘click through’? There are a few newsletters that I do follow and actually read every time they are deposited in my inbox. Just a few.

Here are a few things (obvious and subtle) that you may want to ensure your newsletters tick:


How well do you know your consumers? Not your ‘ideal’ consumer, the real-life, living-and-breathing humans who buy your brand. Those ones. We all have our magical segmentations that we see as the mecca of consumers for our brand, but that doesn’t mean that this matches reality. Do you know why they subscribe to your brand? Is it your story? Certain products or offerings? Perhaps it’s the perks offered? Know your angles, and make sure that they are front and centre to the people who actually want to see them.

Segmented and Personalised

This goes hand-in-hand with relevance. We all hate those emails that are so obviously ‘fill in the blanks’. There’s no personal touch, nothing that makes you feel like there may have been some kind of intentionality behind it. Furthermore, when you wear adult female clothing or you’ve been shopping somewhere for a while and are still getting notifications of sales on kids clothing, then something’s gone wrong with their segmentation of you. It’s not useful, it’s not personal.

Easy to Read– Wherever and Whenever

This cannot be stated enough– the future is mobile. Obviously omnichannel is the goal, as while mobile usage now outstrips desktop, conversion is still higher on desktop. Thus frictionless movement between all devices is essential.

It Looks Pretty

Let’s be honest. If it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing at first click, then I’m not likely to bother, and you aren’t either.

Themed Content

This is just a personal preference, but I really like it when my newsletters have themes. Then I know that I will be getting unique content each time, not just a regurgitation of past news. It provides a narrative and coherence to the email, and not randomly pulled together with whatever is on sale or featured or trendy at the moment.

So how does your newsletter hold up? Maybe you have a high open rate on desktop, but your mobile experience is lacking. Or perhaps you don’t have an email list yet but have been thinking about it. Here’s your nudge, why not go for it?