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Study: There Is Hope For Email Newsletters

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-02-18

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A study by Neilsen Norman Group (NNG), which was co-founded by usability expert Jakob Nielsen, has shown that many email newsletter subscribers are beginning to understand the difference between their newsletter subscriptions and unsolicited email known as spam.

However, the study, dubbed "Email Newsletter Usability, 2nd Edition," also shows that these same subscribers now expect more from their newsletter subscriptions. If the newsletters fail to deliver valuable content, they'll end up in the same "Deleted Items" folder as those nasty spam emails.

"The positive emotional aspect of newsletters is that they can create much more of a bond between user and company than a website can," the study finds. "The negative aspect is that usability problems have a much stronger impact on the customer relationship than they normally do."

Nielsen, whom the New York Times has called "the guru of Web page usability," conducted a similar study in 2002, which showed that only about 23% of all email newsletters are read thoroughly by subscribers.

Furthermore, while subscribers responded better and more emotionally to the "personal" feel of newsletters as opposed to the anonymity of websites, many subscribers had trouble distinguishing between their newsletter subscriptions and spam.

Back then, the future for email newsletters seemed dim. Spam continues to have a negative impact today, but as subscribers become more web-savvy, Nielsen is optimistic.

He does warn, however, that the future of email newsletters remains on the shoulders of those sending the newsletters.

Want to keep your company's newsletters out of the trash bin? Make sure your email newsletters must be short and to-the-point, delivering content quickly and clearly, without providing information overload.

Otherwise, the newsletters may very easily become buried in an avalanche of spam.

Discuss this study with e-Business experts and professionals at WebProWorld, an e-Business forum.

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