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One of the most evergreen questions in email marketing is how to keep people from unsubscribing to your email marketing. As I was surfing through the morning’s news, I saw yet another article on 3 tips for keeping people subscribed, with the usual roundup of useless, user-hostile tips like putting the unsubscribe link at the very bottom of your email. Don’t do that.

As a longtime practitioner – I’ve been managing email marketing programs for companies for 15+ years – the answer is simple:

Create email worth reading.

Recall that to sell, we must provide an outcome of value. Asking someone to subscribe to our newsletter is a sale. Asking someone to stay subscribed is customer retention, which is an ongoing sale. What outcome of value do we provide to continue earning a sale (retaining subscription) every issue?

Let’s examine six different email newsletters to show by example what outcomes and values your newsletters could be selling.

Value: Insight

We’ll start with my friend and colleague Scott Monty and his weekly Full Monty Show.

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Scott’s newsletter is carefully curated and filled not only with news, but editorial commentary. The outcome he’s selling is expert curation. As an industry veteran, he’s better positioned to extract the wheat from the chaff. The value he’s selling is insight. We readers tap into his insights in his newsletter to help us make sense of our industry, and we turn those insights into action that leads to business impact.

Subscribe to Scott’s newsletter here.

Value: Motivation

Chris Brogan’s weekly newsletter is less curation and more original thought and content. Each week, he shares his perspectives and stories from the trenches.

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Chris’ newsletter provides stories we can learn from. The outcome he’s selling is education from experience, knowledge he’s picked up along the way, mistakes he’s made. The value he’s selling is motivation, that we could perhaps be as successful by learning from his experiences and mistakes. We transform those lessons and motivation into energy put towards building our businesses.

Subscribe to Chris’ newsletter here.

Value: Pride

SHIFT Happens, the weekly PR and marketing newsletter we write at SHIFT Communications, focuses on industry news and highlights stories our clients earn in the news.

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The outcome SHIFT Happens provides to our community is showcasing what our most important members are doing – our clients. SHIFT Happens helps our clients prove to their stakeholders that what they do is important and newsworthy. The value SHIFT happens sells is pride, that clients should be proud of the coverage they earn.

Subscribe to SHIFT Happens here.

Value: Thought Leadership

Think With Google, the weekly newsletter from our friends at Google’s Marketing Data Science team, focuses on what’s new at Google for data nerds.

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Early access and first notice of new Google tools? You bet I read every issue like a hawk. The outcome Google is selling is first-mover advantage – the sooner I know about a new tool or dataset, the sooner I’ll take advantage of it. The value Google sells is boosting my thought leadership value to my audience (which drives revenue for me and my employer).

Subscribe to Think With Google here (at the bottom of the page).

Value: Time

Data Elixir, one of my favorite data scientist/data industry newsletters, showcases a wide roundup of content specific to the data science industry.

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Where Scott Monty’s newsletter is a broad overview, Data Elixir is a deep dive into one subject matter by an insider. As much as I’d like to, I don’t have time to delve deeply into the data science industry. The outcome Data Elixir provides is a best-of summary that helps me catch up in a field that isn’t my specialty. The value Data Elixir sells is time – my time recovered not having to dig deep to find the best stuff in a subject matter requiring expertise.

Subscribe to Data Elixir here.

Value: Money

The Bloomberg Brief is a daily newsletter providing a rich, deep examination of various investing and economics topics. Every issue is packed to the gills with data, commentary, and market advice from an industry titan.

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The Bloomberg Brief, if you know how to leverage the data, provides a very straightforward outcome: better investing and money management decisions based on data. The value should be obvious: money. Bloomberg Briefs help you make money if you use them well.

Subscribe to Bloomberg Briefs here.

What Do You Sell?

If you’re struggling to attract and retain subscribers to your newsletter, ask what outcome you provide. Ask what value that outcome gives to your readers. A newsletter that’s selling you and your products/services provides outcomes and value to you, but not to your readers.

Consider the values we’ve reviewed here:

  • Insight
  • Motivation
  • Pride
  • Thought Leadership
  • Time
  • Money

If your newsletter doesn’t provide one or more of these values, then you know what to fix, and you have six examples above of how to do it well.


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