Knowledge Bridge

Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

The newsletter is dead. Long live the newsletter!

Email newsletters are back in fashion, with leading digital players like Quartz, Vox and the Financial Times investing in the format. While there’s widespread agreement that email newsletters are popular with audiences, there’s a difference of opinion about the type of news they should contain, particularly whether they should be produced in-house or aggregated, says Ricardo Bilton of

Bilton quotes Andrew Jack, head of aggregation and curated content at The Financial Times, which recently launched its latest daily newsletter, First FT: “There’s still a very strong appetite for email. People want something that’s always there and easy to access. It also gives us a way to push news and comments to readers in a new form.”

Benjamin Mullin of explains how effective email newsletters are proving for BuzzFeed: “so far in 2014 newsletter traffic to BuzzFeed is up 700 percent over 2013. And newsletters … are now in the ‘top five or six’ biggest drivers of traffic, behind sites including Facebook, Pinterest, Google and Twitter.” BuzzFeed now has 14 newsletters targeted at different audience segments.

While FirstFT aggregates articles from a variety of sources, not everyone agrees. Bilton gives an overview of four of the leading media newsletters.

Quartz: Daily Brief

  • “We wanted the newsletter to feel like a personal email from a savvy, intelligent, well-connected person.”
  • Aggregated sources
  • 95,000 subscribers
  • Sponsored and native ads

Vox: Sentences

  • “Vox Sentences is the fastest way to get caught up on the most important news stories after a long day”
  • Delivery: 8pm.
  • Aggregated sources
  • Banner ads

The Financial Times: FirstFT

  • Morning briefing aimed at global decision-makers
  • 50% FT sources, 50% external
  • Some ads but goal is to drive FT subscriptions by building a relationship. The Brief

  • A daily snapshot of Time’s content to build the audience’s habit of using Time.
  • Links to 12 Time stories, no aggregation
  • 650,000 subscribers, with a 40 percent open rate.
  • Carries ads and pushes readers to subscribe to its magazine.

Article by Peter Whitehead

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