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Nielsen study funded by the Knight Foundation specifically looked at the pathway to news.  In other words, what were people doing right before going to a news-related app or mobile site?

As expected, the majority of traffic comes from Facebook with Google Search generally come in second.  Often overlooked, however, are email newsletters, which drives a significant amount of traffic to sites but is typically undervalued.

Driving traffic to news sites – Knight Foundation/Nielsen Study

So why aren’t publishers paying more attention to email newsletters?

“It seems that news-seekers still value curated content that lasts longer than a feed and that they have chosen to opt into.” – Nielsen Study

Publishers should love email newsletters

  • They’re cheap.
  • Recipients already have a relationship with you – they’ve opted in after all.
  • They’re more likely to respond to offers
  • The CTR for media publishers is approximately 27 times better than display
  • Clicking on one doesn’t send them to your competitors or expose them to your competitors like search
  • It’s really cheap compared to display or keywords.
  • You get to keep the data
Alexis Madrigal

“Readers come and go. You can’t assume any continuity. But I have an intimate and intense relationship with people who get my newsletter every day.” Alexis Madrigal, then Senior Editor, The Atlantic, told the NY Times

And it’s effective.  Just ask retailers.  A Forrester Research study, in conjunction with reports that 85% of retailers in the U.S. consider email marketing as one of the most effective tactics in customer acquisition.

The email newsletter service Mailchimp has a vested interest in this business approach, but they also have access to a ton of data.  They send billions (yes, billions) of emails every month for more than 10 million companies.  They update the stats monthly.

Here’s how various industry newsletters score on CTRs.  For Media and Publishing, email newsletters have a 22.21% open rate and a click-through-rate of 4.64%.  Compare that to average display ad CTR of 0.17 (as of April 2016).