Five for Friday – Newsletter publishing

Five or so links from around the web about new and interesting applications of technology.

There’s a lot happening in the world of email newsletters. This is an area close to our hearts both due to conversations currently underway about how our own Newsletter is delivered, as well as some other internal projects we’re working on.

Newsletters provide a great opportunity to reach people in a way that social media can’t match, not just as a direct line to your users: they also offer a break from the overly-loud, algorithm-lead spaces on the web. The personalisation available means that the newsletter is a valuable tool for cultural sector organisations wanting to improve their audience engagement.

Here are 5 interesting things that are having an impact on the newsletter subscription ecosystem right now:

  1. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (The Verge)

The big announcement reverberating through the newsletter world is the introduction of Apple’s iOS 15 Mail Privacy Protection, a new privacy feature for the Mail app.

This feature prevents email senders from using ‘invisible pixels’ to track whether an email was opened or detecting a recipient’s IP address and this has forced a bit of a reckoning (an overdue one at that) about newsletter metrics and user privacy. It also signifies Apple’s increasing attention on the newsletter industry. Not an insignificant move when, according to Wired, “more than 60 per cent of all email accounts are opened in a piece of software controlled by Apple”.

2. Twitter – newsletter subscribe (Social Media Today)

Twitter is rolling out new features based on its acquisition of newsletter platform, Revue. Twitter announced this acquisition back in January and their intention was to help newsletter writers “grow their paid subscribers while also incentivizing them to produce engaging and relevant content that drives conversations on Twitter”.

One element, soon to be introduced, will allow newsletter creators to display a subscribe button on their Twitter profile.

3. Substack’s onward march continues, though the mission remains blurry (New Yorker)

Whether it’s a platform or a publisher (or a little bit of both), Substack continues to dominate discussions about newsletter publishing – though the jury is still out on its model for supporting media and journalism. In this piece by Anna Wiener in the New Yorker, she looks at the broader ramifications for the Substack model and asks “whether a world in which subscription newsletters rival magazines and newspapers is a world that people want”.

4. Readsom adds a discovery layer to newsletter subscriptions

Readsom is one of the new tools emerging in response to the many newsletters now being published. You can browse newsletters by topic or submit your own. Both paid and free newsletters are listed and you can also browse by Deep Dive, Blog, Curation and News publications.

Substack is also tackling the inevitable discovery issue for newsletters with their Substack Reader tool – this includes both newsletters on the Substack platform as well as external RSS feeds.

5. Google is overhauling Feedburner for the ‘next chapter’: RSS to email subscriptions are no more (Google Search Central Blog)

Back in April, Google announced some upcoming changes to their Feedburner platform, including the end of the email subscriptions feature. These changes are set to come into effect in July.

(Side note: It seems that they’re not giving up on RSS (again) though, with a separate announcement for a new RSS-based ‘Follow’ feature being trialled for Chrome)