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6 Must-Read Email Newsletters

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Plus 6 more you should check out.


Like many things in marketing, the email newsletter has been pronounced dead.

I beg to differ.

I believe the people who have made this proclamation are trying to be either provocative or appear trendy. There is a third alternative that I typed out but it seemed kind of mean so I took it out. I’ll let you guess what it was.

I get a ton of emails. I’ve never stopped and counted but it’s in the neighborhood of 80-100 daily.

I’m sure you can relate.

They typically fall into several different areas.

There are those which promote a piece of content, products, or services.

Others focus on a specific piece of marketing such as social media, content marketing, or SEO.

Some focus on an industry such as AI, manufacturing, or healthcare.

Of course, I get sales emails and plenty of spam though my spam filter is pretty good at weeding those out.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleared my email box by simply deleting everything without a label attached and marking most everything else with a label as read but there are exceptions to this.

There are those emails that I look forward to and always read. It could be a day or two (sometimes longer) after I’ve got them but I always read them.

This is what I want to share with you today. Those email newsletters that I consistently find helpful because they add value for both me and my business.

I know if you check them out, they will do the same for you.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Total Annarchy by Ann Handley

Ann Handley is well known in the world of marketing but if you haven’t heard of her, let me give you a quick introduction.

She is the author of two best-selling books, Everybody Writes and Content Rules. Ann is also a keynote speaker, the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, a marketing trainer, and she also writes one hell of an email newsletter.

It focuses on writing and marketing tips.

In the most recent newsletter, the 99th, Ann shared Total Annarchy has grown from around 2,000 subscribers from issue one to over 41,000 now. I’m not surprised.

She talked about how she grew the newsletter and I was giddy because everything she was saying was pure gold.

Here’s a little taste.

Create what you wish existed. For years I searched for a marketing newsletter that focused on writing and storytelling. That walked the walk—meaning, the writing was writing I wanted to read.
Why doesn’t it exist? I used to muse, stroking my metaphorical ascot. More musing: How can Marketing see the power in writing?
Like… duh. Do it then, dummy. Be your own best fan.

Ann Handley, Total Annarchy: Issue 99

This advice seemed kind of obvious when I read it but how many people actually do it? My guess is very few. I’m including myself in this.

It’s not all about writing an email newsletter, there are plenty of insights across the marketing spectrum that you can apply.

Let me give you an example.

Early on in my blogging, I was using the words I, we, and us quite a bit. I was talking at people and I didn’t come across as very personable. Those articles read like I’m standing on a pulpit giving a sermon.

One day I read my Total Annarchy newsletter and Ann talked about writing to one person. It’s one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve received.

A simple concept but it had a big impact.

When I write now, I write as I am talking to you.

I have one person in mind as opposed to a bunch of people and it made writing a bit easier. It also made the tone more personable.

If you want to improve your writing while learning more about marketing along the way, you need to subscribe to Total Annarchy.

Playing Favorites by Jay Acunzo

Last year I wrote an article on six people to follow in which Jay made an appearance. If you listened to me then, you’re probably already subscribed to his newsletter.

If you ignored me or didn’t read the article last year, let me tell you about Jay.

He wrote a fantastic book called Breaking the Wheel in regards to best practices. He is a keynote speaker and the host of two wonderful podcasts: Unthinkable and 3 Clips. He is also the showrunner for the docuseries, Against the Grain which was fantastic.

Playing Favorites is for creators.

If you’re writing a blog, podcasting, using video, developing ads, or even writing your own newsletter you are creating which means his newsletter is for you.

Jay’s voice is different from most others you will hear because he’s not on the “create as much as you can to get the biggest audience you can” train.

Here’s the tagline from Playing Favorites:

Welcome to Playing Favorites, a Friday newsletter by me, Jay Acunzo, for creators who want to make what matters most. Because that’s the job.

A simple idea but easier said than done. Most of the time you are likely more worried about creating something that meets a marketing goal than to truly create something unique. Something that matters.

I’m certainly guilty.

If you’re on this path, Jay will definitely challenge what you do.

In one of the more recent newsletters, he talked about resonating with your audience and there was an amazing quote:

Reach is how many people see you. Resonance is how much they care.

Jay Acunzo, Playing Favorites: 2 words worth defining to improve your work

If you don’t resonate with people do they really care? Probably not which means your marketing isn’t doing much.

When your marketing resonates, you’ll have something that will move the needle.

All the newsletters on this list are here because they resonate with me so strongly that I want to share them with you.

It’s proof that one piece of amazing content is worth more than 1,000 pieces of mediocre content.

I’ve thrown out some bites but Jay is a great storyteller. Everybody on this list is.

We talk about storytelling all the time in PR and marketing but few are really good at it.

People remember stories. The point you’re trying to make is more sticky when you’ve transported them there via a story instead of just dropping it on them.

Jay’s newsletter is a great example of this.

Be a better creator and storyteller. Subscribe to Playing Favorites.

Almost Timely News and Inbox Insights

Yes, I really did put two newsletters together under one heading. I’ll explain why.

Trust Insights is a company that focuses on change management in relation to data analysis, AI and Machine Learning, Google Analytics, and more. It was co-founded by Katie Robbert and Christopher Penn.

Chris sends out Almost Timely News through his personal site. Inbox Insights is the Trust Insights newsletter is written by Katie.

I put these two newsletters together because I feel like they are companion pieces. If you look in my email box, they share the same label.

Chris and Katie balance each other. I’ve told Katie this I even wrote it in my notes when I was compiling this list.

If you’ve heard the Trust Insights podcast or have seen the live show, So What? which streams every Thursday on YouTube, you know what I mean.

Chris is an authority on analytics, digital marketing, marketing technology, data science, and machine learning.

Katie’s expertise includes strategic planning, marketing operations management, organizational behavior, and market research and analysis.

I need to also say she has a background in project management which was my path at one point when I was at Intel. When she talks about topics I can see how her background is impacting how she is talking about it because it’s how a project manager would attack it. I see and feel what she is saying because I also have some of that same experience.

Resonance. It matters.

Let me give you a taste of both newsletters.

In the most recent issue (as of the moment I am writing this) of Almost Timely News, Chris talked about Google’s update to its Search Quality Rater Guidelines. I’ve read the guidelines though I haven’t checked out the update yet.

There were certain things that I remember but it’s a 172-page document that isn’t the easiest reading and yet, Mr. Penn, drawing on his expertise boiled it down to something understandable:

Suppose you draw a matrix on a sheet of paper, a cube.

• On the X axis is page quality – stuff like expertise, authority, trustworthiness, high quality content.

• On the Y axis is mobile friendliness – stuff like page load times, size of assets, scripts that take up time.

• On the Z axis is needs met – whether the page fulfills the user’s intent, and the things that would detract from a positive user experience like misinformation or harmful content.

If you took each of these three major dimensions and plotted out all the pages on your website, conceptually, you would end up with a visualization of what content is most likely to do well in search.

Chris Penn, Almost Timely Newsletter: What’s On My Mind: Google’s Updated Search Quality Rater Guidelines

I know it’s conceptual. I know it’s not easy to do in reality but it makes sense. You should still read the guidelines but I’m willing to bet it will make more sense as you read it through this lens.

In a recent issue of Inbox Insights, Katie talked about using data to make decisions.

This is a topic that I’ve explored and read many articles on including some by Chris himself.

I get its importance because at Intel we made decisions on data all the time but it can be a dry topic and it can come off as complicated and techy.

Katie broke it down, talked about how to start small, and then expand:

…you need to ask yourself, “am I ignoring the data?”. If the answer is yes, today is a great day to start listening.

How do you get started? Start small. Pick one data point. Take a baseline or initial snapshot of where that data is. Come up with a plan to use that data point to make at least one decision. In my case, it’s the decision of what topic to write about for our blog. Make sure the decision you’re making is measurable. Can I see more traffic to my site because of my timely and topical blog? Can I see searches for that topic in Search Console?

As you find small wins, start to expand your scope. Incorporate more data points. Make difference decisions. Bring your team on board. As you have success along the way it will be easier to convince others that using data will work.

Katie Robbert, Inbox Insights: How to Use Data to Make Decisions

Well, when it’s put that way…

I realized I had overcomplicated the idea of using data to make decisions. Not only for myself but for my clients as well.

It’s not going to happen anymore. I feel like I can now approach it in a way that is less complicated and intimidating.

Make sure you subscribe to both Almost Timely News and Inbox Insights.

Digital Marketing Trends by Martin Waxman

It just hit me that the authors of the first four newsletters I talked about are from Boston.

Maybe there is something in the water?

Being from Toronto, this makes Martin the first non-Bostonian on this list. Like Jay, he also was part of my people-to-follow article.

I don’t think it’s an irony that three people (yes there is one more) who were part of that article who are also creating newsletters that I love. It actually makes a whole lot of sense.

I digress.

Martin is a digital communications strategist, a LinkedIn Learning instructor, who also conducts AI research. He also speaks at conferences and teaches at social media and digital marketing at the Schulich School of Business, McMaster University, UToronto SCS, and Seneca College.

His newsletter is published in partnership with LinkedIn and, as the title of the newsletter suggests, he covers trends in digital marketing.

In the most recent issue, he talked about, ironically, newsletters. How they’ve come from something that was printed out and mailed to digitized documents we send out via email and how he navigated this change within his organization and finally, what he learned.

Sorry, that was a long cumbersome sentence.

Here’s a snippet on his organization’s move from a printed and mailed newsletter to a digital one:

I was so determined to reinvent what we do that I could only see that part of the picture rather than focusing on the whole.

And that’s the wrong way to look at things.

Whenever you consider a big change in your business or life, it’s a good idea to step back and try to be both objective and critical at the same time.

And that’s never easy.

Martin Waxman, Digital Marketing Trends: Newsletters: When Everything Old is New(s) Again

Indeed. Change is constant but it is scary as well and this is what makes it so hard to navigate. Especially when it is impacting an entire organization and its customers.

As Martin also pointed out, there has been movement into the next phase of newsletters in which people can be compensated via platforms such as Substack.

It’s not just newsletters. It’s other things such as AI and other technologies that are already impacting and will continue to impact the way we do work.

Digital Marketing is moving fast. What worked last year may not work this year. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll be left in the dust.

If you don’t want to fall behind, you need to subscribe to Digital Marketing Trends.

Garrett Public Relations Newsletter by Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett, is a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, and speaker.

Her blog was on a list of Top 25 Must-Read Public Relations Blogs and she has also been selected as a content marketing influencer to follow.

Being that this is the last entry in this article, you probably deduced that she was also featured in my article last year on people to follow.

I’m new to Michelle’s newsletter but I’ve followed her for quite a while now on Twitter, read her blog and writings around the web, and participate in her weekly Twitter chat on freelancing, #FreelanceChat. She is also a co-host of #PRLunchHour.

I’ve learned much from Michelle on a host of PR and marketing-related subjects but for some odd reason, I wasn’t subscribed to her newsletter.

About a month ago I thought to myself, “I get so much value from Michelle, why is it exactly that I don’t get her email newsletter?”

I don’t know but I did subscribe.

I’ve got two newsletters now and I’m rather upset I missed the boat on this one but better late than never, right?

Michelle talks about all things PR sprinkled with some marketing.

I just got the November newsletter a couple of days ago and it was full of great insights. She talked about six points to consider when planning for 2022.

I do love planning.

She brought up some great points that I couldn’t argue with.

I do like to argue.

That was a joke. It was for me per Ann Handley’s advice in issue 99. If you get it, you get it.

Ok, Ann already had her moment. I was talking about Michelle.

Here’s a clip from her newsletter:

Whether you all work together in one office or not, it’s worth doing what you can to ensure you’re (mostly) on the same page before hiring outside help like a consultant or agency. No one can be successful if the client’s team doesn’t agree on what success looks like.

Michelle Garrett, Garrett Public Relations November Newsletter: Planning for 2022 Marketing Initiatives

Great advice for me and you.

I can tell you from following Michelle, she’s not going to be the one who chases a trend for clicks. She is a great writer who will give you sound advice that will make your PR and marketing efforts better.

You can subscribe to her newsletter here.

Honorable Mentions

I had a longer list but I decided I needed to cap it somewhere.

I also ran into an issue where some of the newsletters I like are very specific to my interests of where I am and where I want to go.

For instance, Kat Boogard writes a fantastic newsletter but it’s focused on freelancing and I write a blog about marketing and PR, not freelancing.

The same with David C. Baker. I get great insights from his newsletter as well but he focuses more on entrepreneurship and its challenges which might be really interesting to you as well but it’s a tough fit on this blog.

So, as a bonus for you, and to keep my overactive conscience from nagging at me later for not at least mentioning them, here are a few other great newsletters that I think you check out (in no particular order).

And thus concludes this article. Is there a newsletter you think I should have included? Hit me on social media and tell me.

The next article will post as normal, which will be after Thanksgiving here in the United States.

So, I want to wish you an early Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy subscribing.

*Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels

Shane Carpenter
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