Jakob Nielsen is my sherpa. He’s guided my ascent to high open rates, about double the industry average.

So I was thrilled to read that his latest findings confirm the value of compelling subject lines, getting to the point quickly and other earlier recommendations. Better still, he explored  the impact of social media, smart phones and video.

Write for reading on mobile phonesSocial media

According to Jakob, people prefer longer updates, though not too long, in email newsletters. Save Facebook, Twitter and similar micro-communication for information snacks.

However, many people like to grab these snacks from newsletters. Let me add that  most email service providers have added options for sharing your newsletter on social media sites.

As a result, email newsletters and social media, though different, can feed each other. Brilliant.


While I used to think that smart phones people were too busy to read longer content, Jakob’s respondents told him they often read them when they need to “kill time.” So give smart phone people interesting content to scan while waiting for a cab or a meeting or filling those countless other open minutes in their day. This works, however, only if your newsletters display well on a small screen.


Although we’re seeing so many more videos on the internet these days¸ Jakob’s research subjects didn’t think video belonged in newsletters. Sigh of relief.

I’m not impressed by most of those flip-cam-in-the-face reels, but I’m keeping an open mind. Communication can change for the better, or worse, in the blink of an eye. We need to think critically, but quickly.

Evolve and endure

Jakob conducted his first research eight years ago, when email newsletters were in their infancy. Facebook wasn’t invented. Mobile phones were just for calls. Video was reserved for slick corporation productions or shaky family memories.

Despite predictions of their demise with RSS feeds, social media and other developments, email newsletters have evolved and endured. So hang in there if you have one. Don’t think the parade has passed you by if you haven’t started yours yet.

As Jakob concluded:  “When it comes to customer relationships, newsletters must be seen as a long-term investment: they work their magic over time.”

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Email newsletters go mobile, social

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