Don't call it a comeback—email newsletters are popular again for 3 compelling reasons

newsletters Apr 16, 2019


Bonus points if you listen to LL Cool J while you read this post.

You may have noticed that email newsletters are getting a lot of attention. The New York Times recently published The New Social Network That Isn't New At All. And then there was Business News Daily's People Trust Newsletters More Than the Actual News, Craig Mod's Oh God, It's Raining Newsletters, and Impact's Why Email Marketing Newsletters Are Making a Comeback.

But as LL says, "don't call it a comeback."

Newsletters have been around since shoulder pads, asymmetrical spiral perms, and Vans. And unsurprisingly, during the decade of excess and years to follow, we blasted our neon gradient and comic sans-laden newsletters to anyone and everyone.

I still wear Vans and send newsletters, but I do both with a little more sophistication than I did in 2001.

Here's how newsletters have evolved since the '80s. First and foremost, they're mobile. Most people have email and a smartphone. And newsletter templates are simple and responsive, so they look great on phones. Best of all, blasting is a thing of the past. Now, email is less about broadcasting and more about building relationships. See? Totally diff than the '80s, '90s, and '00s. 

But our renewed love affair with email newsletters isn't about email's evolution—it's about our desire for trust, connection, and control. 

Let's dive in, shall we?


We're moving away from the open and public social sharing popularized by Facebook and moving to private conversations. Even Zuck says so.

With all the scandals, trolls, and abuses of privacy, this shift is not surprising. We want more meaningful relationships—not merely more of them.

The social media landscape is shaped by algorithms and guided by third parties that profit from our contributions. As a result, we don't fully trust the information shared, know with certainty who's sharing it, or why. 

Email newsletters are regaining popularity because they provide a direct connection between you and the people on your list. There are no third parties or algorithms. It's an opportunity to nurture relationships, build trust, and have meaningful conversations with your people.


Do you like being connected to your devices 24/7/365? If you're like most social media users, you've probably taken a break or two.

Most of us take a digital detox because we recognize we're more connected to our devices than to people. I've certainly felt that way, and it's gross.

The addictive nature of social media is real and deliberate. And if you're like me, you've felt the effects on your mental health. We feel:

  • Overwhelmed with things to do
  • Unsure about what works and where to focus our spending
  • Frustrated with how rapidly things change
  • Anxious because we can’t keep up with our peers
  • Stressed because we don't know how we'll do more than we're doing now

Email newsletters are enjoying a resurgence because they allow us to focus on our connection to people—not our devices. And we nurture those connections by adding value to peoples' lives and building trust by consistently staying in touch. 


Social media platforms are owned by third parties. And the problem with that is they also own the connections you build with your fans and followers.

You don't get to decide who you reach when you post on social. And you have to pay for the privilege of getting in front of a fraction of the audience you built. Oh, and don't forget about algorithms and having to keep up with the latest changes. 

We throw our time, attention, and money at social media. Essentially, we're owned by third parties too. And that lack of control is making us itchy. You feel it, right?

Control is precisely why newsletters are popular again. Craig Mod breaks it down nicely:

Ownership in email in the same way we own a paperback: We recognize that we (largely) control the email subscriber lists, they are portable, they are not governed by unknowable algorithmic timelines. And this isn’t ownership yoked to a company or piece of software operating on quarterly horizon, or even multi-year horizon, but rather to a half-century horizon. Email is a (the only?) networked publishing technology with both widespread, near universal adoption, and history. It is, as they say, proven.

Now what?!

Trust, connection, and control are making a comeback. Email newsletters are popular again. So are Vans. Coincidence? I don't think so.

If you're ready to send your own email newsletter but don't know where to start, give me a jingle at 503.475.2691 or drop me a line. I can set up your Mailchimp account, collaborate with you, or do your newsletter for you. If you need help with strategy, content, design, format, list management, etc.—I got you. 🤗



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