Why Publishing Daily E-newsletters May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Howard Rauch, ASBPE judge and president of Editorial Solutions, Inc., explains why publishers need to match their enthusiasm to publish a daily e-newsletter with an investment in resources to ensure they are producing a quality product. 

B2B’s plunge into daily e-newsletter delivery seems to be a given.  But has the accelerated frequency from weekly to twice weekly (maybe) to daily really been a smart move?  Perhaps many publishers caught up in the competitive digital wave have overstepped their limits.  This is especially true for those who have not invested sufficiently in the resources (like dedicated digital editors) required to deliver the high-urgency, timely content readers expect.

During the past two months, my assignments judging two editorial excellent competitions gave me cause to mull further my current anti-daily sentiments.  Being a judge, by the way, is a terrific experience.  If you are asked to be contest screener or finalist judge, jump at the chance. One reason why I welcome the opportunity is that it provides a chance to brainstorm with talented entrants about their editorial strategy.

A case in point involves a discussion brought on while judging one competition’s Best E-Newsletter category.  As the evaluation process proceeded, I noticed that entries followed two distinct paths:

(1) Traditional emphasis on breaking news, with anywhere from five to 15 articles per issue.

(2) Feature-oriented presentation combining in-depth lead articles with several authoritative blogs contributed by knowledgeable staff and/or recognized industry experts.

In the course of judging one category (2) entry, I called the editor in chief for comment.  At any time, did his newsletter ever have a heavier focus on news?  Answer: Never.  Did the current feature-oriented format place his product at a competitive disadvantage with advertisers seeking a newsier format?  Answer: No.

Advertisers had no problem perceiving the value of the existing package.  And then, my source said this:

“I have often thought about a daily, but there is not enough real news to justify the attempt.”

Hello!!!  How many publishers do you think have defied that logic and pushed ahead with daily frequency?

Answer:  Quite a few, as demonstrated by ongoing e-newsletter studies conducted by Editorial Solutions.

Those of you who have read previous blogs may recall that close to two thirds of e-news articles reviewed demonstrated no enterprise.  And if a staff can’t demonstrate enterprise with a weekly frequency, why could they meet that challenge once operating as a daily?

In a future blog post, I will share several examples of how e-newsletters in judging category (1) and (2) excelled in delivery.  But for now, allow me to come at the daily e-newsletter phenomenon from another direction.  Recently, in a blog post published on another site serving the publishing industry, a B2B editorial director sought advice from peers on the best approach to launching a daily e-newsletter with a limited staff.  Aren’t a lot of us in this boat at one time or another?  Perhaps we can make do when starting a weekly e-newsletter.  But when speaking of dailies, my advice to the inquiring blogger included a simple caveat:  DON’T DO IT!!!  If you are currently running a weekly and you and your publisher have been bitten by the daily bug, first try a transitional, twice-weekly delivery.

A final thought:  Whether your e-newsletter frequency is weekly, daily, or somewhere in between, each issue must include at least one blockbuster, staff-written lead article. Further, at least 80 percent of all articles posted in any given issue should clearly exude a high-impact aura.

Conclusion:  In many cases, daily B2B e-newsletters have tremendous potential to succeed!  But many existing efforts need dramatic upgrading if we wish to prevail in the current highly competitive information marketplace.

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