More Newsletter Open Rates: Taking a Look at the Times’ Numbers

How does The New York Times achieve its newsletter open rates? Plus, another in-house content studio and more online learning …

Yesterday, we relayed MediaPost’s news about the Movable Ink study finding that mobile email marketing has eclipsed desktop open rates, which is great news for multiplatform publishers who have Email Marketing Systems. As email shrugs off the greatly exaggerated reports of its demise and re-establishes itself as a strong audience development tool, newsletter open rates have become a more important area of focus for digital magazines and other brands.

The Mequoda Method has long emphasized newsletter open rates as a key strategic point of multiplatform publishing, but even we were taken aback by The New York Times’ success when it comes to the art of email. So, we were interested to learn more in Digiday’s recent article about the Old Gray Lady’s staggering 70% yield.

How the NY Times Gets 70% Newsletter Open Rates

That’s right: 70%. Now with 33 newsletters, The New York Times is taking niche coverage to another level with specialized emails built by a staff of 12, Digiday reports. The newsletter content itself is handcrafted, not auto-generated, and there’s ample experimentation with design and layout. All of this combined with the Times’ reputation is resulting in some wildly robust newsletter open rates.

“The Times wouldn’t say how many subscribers it has but shared some numbers that suggest its approach is paying off. Subscriber volume has grown 14 percent in the past six months, with the number of newsletter subscribers ranging from tens of thousands to several million depending on the newsletter. Average gross open rate (which, unlike the uniques open rate, which is typically lower, counts duplicate opens) for weekly newsletters is 50 percent, with some of its newer ones including Kristof’s, the Times Magazine, Booming and Motherlode have gross open rates topping 70 percent. The gross open rate for media and publishing newsletters is 38.5 percent, according to email marketing company MailChimp. (The Times wouldn’t provide its unduplicated open rates.),” Lucia Moses writes.


“The Times sells ads into its newsletters but sees the main benefit as audience development. While publishers including the Times are trying to capitalize on the fact that people are increasingly coming to the news from social media, the Times is highly dependent on paying subscribers and, as such, is under pressure to nurture that part of its business. And its newsletters are a key way to do that. Times users are twice as likely to become paid subscribers if they signed up for a newsletter first.”

The Daily Mirror’s In-House Content Studio, Invention

Content studios are the coveted components of the publishing world, enabling digital magazines to produce scaled native advertising, video, and other offerings in house. The Daily Mirror is the latest company to go for it, with 38-person “Invention” via Trinity Mirror Studios, Digiday reports.

Ed Tech From Inc. and Reader’s Digest

Another coveted segment is online learning, and Inc. has jumped into the game with a course on startups, Digiday reports. Reader’s Digest, meanwhile, has launched EnrichU, which covers cooking, home repair, and other topics. Inc. charges $395 for the 5-week entrepreneurial primer; Reader’s Digest, $9.95 per month and $99 per year for memberships.

How are your newsletter open rates? If you’re looking for areas of improvement, we can help. Download our free Organic Audience Development Strategy Handbook today!

To read more about newsletter open rates in the news, visit Digiday.


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