If you lump email newsletters in with banner ads and autoplay, you’re not alone. Most of them are a combination of dry, pushy, and over-stuffed, all wrapped up in a fusty HTML shell. That is because most email newsletter authors view newsletters as a combination of necessary evil, homepage writ smaller, and afterthought. This is to their detriment.
We, the audience, are in our inboxes all damn day. We are selective about what we open. We are loyal to those who consistently send us open-worthy messages. "Open-worthy," in addition to being an awkward phrase, is also a subjective quality, but here are a few common characteristics:
- The message is short. Ideally, no more than two paragraphs.
- The message's raison d'etre is clear, and we know where to click for more information.
- The message is visually easy to read, regardless of device.
The following seven email newsletters embrace these characteristics; they are also well-written, witty, and compelling. I almost always open them, and frequently click through to linked stories, places, and companies. To me, they prove that email can be a very good vehicle for news consumption. Do you agree? Are there email newsletters you subscribe to that you feel should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!
1. Next Draft
- Author: Dave Pell (of NPR’s “All Tech Considered,” Gizmodo, Forbes, and more)
- Focus: Current events
- Frequency: 5x/week
- Gist: Each newsletter has 10 news stories, with commentary and further reading
THESE THUMBS WERE MADE FOR TEXTING Forget the Olympics. We need a competition we can relate to. Meet Austin Wierschke. He just scored $50k by winning his second straightNational Texting Competition, where he again proved to be unbeatable in events such as Text Blitz, texting backwards, and texting while blindfolded. Austin practiced by sending 500 texts a day to friends - and, one assumes by now, former friends. (Just for fun, I typed this entire entry into my iPhone. My time: 6 minutes, 25 seconds. Watch your back, Wierschke.) [From the August 9th, 2012 newsletter]
- Authors: Scott Hocker is the EoC, full list of editors by city here
- Focus: Dining out and in (restaurants, markets, events, recipes)
- Frequency: ~5x/week
- Gist: Each newsletter has one thing/place you should make, buy, visit, or do.
THE SMOKING GUN Soaring temperatures call for breezy meals, the less cooking the better. So we're especially smitten with the offerings from North Fork Smoked Fish Co., a new side business from Greenmarket seafood savants P.E. & D.D. Of course, the seafaring crew is keeping it in the family. Using fresh catches from his brother’s boats in Eastern Long Island and discarded vines from local wineries, captain Phil Karlin smokes small batches of bluefish, striped bass, swordfish, scallops and more. [From the August 3rd, 2012 newsletter]
3. Daily Worth
- Author: Amanda Steinberg
- Focus: Personal finance
- Frequency: 5x/week
- Gist: One money saving, spending, or investing tip a day, tailored to finance newbies. There is also Create Worth, for entrepreneurs, and More Worth, for ladder straddlers.
A CLEAR SHOT AT BETTER CREDIT If your credit has taken a hit in this dragging economy, do you know where to go for help? Probably not, says a survey last month by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Nearly half of respondents had no idea where to turn, and 25% thought they couldn’t afford counseling anyway—proof that many people are misinformed when it comes to what reliable credit counseling is. [From the August 6, 2012 newsletter]
- Author: Kickstarter
- Focus: Cool kickstarter projects
- Frequency: 1x/week
- Gist: Descriptions of a few cool new projects
MY OTHER CAR HAS SIX LEGS Stompy is an 18-foot-wide, 4,000 pound, 6-legged hydraulic robot that you can ride. Conceptualized by a small team of professional roboticists and their students, the massive hexapod will be completely open-source, from the CAD drawings all the way down to control techniques, meaning 'bot enthusiasts the world over can someday build one of their very own. Fasten your seat belts! The robot revolution is here. [From the August 9th, 2012 newsletter]
- Authors: Quora users
- Focus: It’s somewhat customized based on the questions you and the people you follow have recently engaged with. Last week, mine included plane crashes, email apps, prison life, and NYC’s best-kept secrets.
- Frequency: 1x/week
- Gist: A round-up of questions and the top-voted answers.
WHY IS IT THAT A LOT OF WOMEN PREFER TO HAVE MAILE FRIENDS INSTEAD OF FEMALE ONES? A girl's gotta have her boy talk and her friends to ask about her outfit every now and then. But girls often have so much drama involved with any activity that it can be exhausting to be with them all the time. We all seem to recognize this, yet we can't seem to be able to stop it. When girls are with girls there is drama. It's odd. Here is an exaggerated example of why I like having a generous helping of male friends (I often enjoy spending time with men more):
6. Now I know
- Author: Dan Lewis, Director of New Media Communications for Sesame Workshop
- Focus: Trivia
- Frequency: 5x/week
- Gist: One interesting fact/day
THREE OF A KIND In 2005, Debbie and Kent Beasley of California had triplets — kind of. All three children were conceived in 1992 and the older two children were born then, but the third one required thirteen more years — the result of an ever-advancing world of science with an unintentional intentional assist from a crooked doctor. Meet Laina Beasley, the baby born from an embryo frozen for over a decade before her birth. [From the August 9, 2012 newsletter]
7. The Perrin Postcard
- Author: Wendy Perrin, Director of Consumer News & Digital Community, Conde Nast Traveler
- Focus: Consumer Travel
- Frequency: 1x/month
- Gist: 5-10 destinations, deals, and advice
VACATION RENTAL SITE ISTOPOVER OFFERS A COOL NEW WAY TO BOOK Vacation rentals sites like HomeAway and Airbnb offer an often value-packed alternative to hotel accommodations, particularly in desirable destinations or during high seasons. The downside is that travelers have found themselves at the pricing mercy of property owners—until now. Thanks to a new feature from booking siteiStopOver called Wise Ask!, travelers can now bid for lodging. [From the May 2012 newsletter]