Pop-up newsletters are an effective acquisition strategy



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Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hey newsletter authors,
How was your week? Are you working on any cool newsletter projects at the moment? I had some great conversations with readers about newsletter formats: What is the right topic? What’s the best combination of commentary, links, images, quotes and opinion? The answer is, of course, it depends.
An interesting format that got a lot of attention recently is the pop-up newsletter. I like them as an acquisition strategy. In a nutshell, you launch a pop-up on a trending topic, acquire subscribers in a new segment and try to convert them to other newsletters or channels. So today, I’ll share the stories behind several highly successful pop-ups.
Speaking of sharing… Would you mind sharing this newsletter with another author? They can check out all previous issues and consider subscribing on the profile page of The week in newsletters. Much appreciated 💌
Keep cranking out those issues 📥 and do get in touch if I can be of assistance 💁
Cheers, Mark

Pop-up newsletters as acquisition strategy
Suppose you already have several newsletters and other publication channels but want to grow your audience. A pop-up newsletter can be a great tactic.
One option is to launch a newsletter on a trending topic. Recently, there have been quite a few examples about impeachment. But we’ve also seen the soccer world cup or something like summer in the city.
Another approach is launch a pop-up to extend your brand to an underrepresented audience segment. Jacob Granger reported on an interesting case of this for journalism.co.uk. Business news publisher Bloomberg found a way to reach a much younger audience with a pop-up newsletter on career development.
Bloomberg found that 18-35 year-olds were ‘over-indexing on company and people’s pages’. The business news publisher then saw an opportunity to see if they could cater to this market of university under- and post-graduates in a new way at this critical time in their lives.
The strategy proved successful and provided Bloomberg with an opportunity to connect with a new audience segment. Bloomberg surveyed the subscribers of this new product and found:
Two-thirds are women and 62 per cent of the audience is younger than 35 years old. This is a key insight, said Johnson, as it gives Bloomberg room to think about how it can serve this next generation of working professionals. “The opportunity to build a rapport with this audience - that could lead to subscriptions down the road - is a meaningful one”.
Sara Fisher had a great list of trending topic pop-up examples in her Axios Media Trends newsletter last week:
CNN launched an impeachment tracker newsletter that amassed over 11,000 subscribers in a few days, per CNN. The New York Times also launched an impeachment briefing newsletter.
Game of Thrones: The New York Times, The Telegraph, and even Politico all developed Game of Thrones newsletter that guided readers through the end of the series. About 80,000 subscribed to the Times’ eight-edition newsletter, per Digiday.
World Cup: The Times and The Washington Post both ran pop-up newsletters around the World Cup.
Midterms: Vox, Stat News and others launched pop-up newsletters for the 2018 midterm elections.
While the above are examples of pop-up by large publishers, the tactic has also been used successfully by indie authors. A great recent example is impeachment.fyi, a daily snapshot of what’s happening in impeachment news by journalist Dan Sinker. There’s so much news around impeachment and Dan does an amazing job of making sense of a very confusing situation.
Intrigued but not convinced?
Mary-Katharine Phillips did a nice job collecting some hard data made available about short-run newsletters. There’s some strong evidence that the tactic is working:
The New York Times “Game of Thrones” newsletter accumulated 80k subscribers with a 60% open rate
CNN’s Hurricane Alerts newsletter for Hurricane Florence, which ran for only a few days, was able to grow their list to 40k subscribers in just two days
Quartz’s event newsletters have an average open rate of 50% which is higher than their daily brief newsletter at 40%
This is confirmed again in an in-depth profile of the royal wedding last year by Joseph Lichterman:
The Royal Fascinator had an average open rate of 65 percent over the course of its run. (But the CBC wouldn’t share the list size so it’s hard to gauge what exactly that means.)
And also some quotes that Max Wilens gathered for a piece today about impeachment newsletters and podcasts:
CNN’s Impeachment Watch newsletter, for example, gained over 40,000 subscribers in the first 10 days of launch
The New York Times’s Impeachment Briefing, which launched as a standalone newsletter Oct. 1, has ranked among the most-read things published by the Times every day it has come out, said Adam Pasick, editorial director of newsletters for the Times.
So many great examples of pop-up newsletters.
Just wanted to add one more launched a few weeks ago by a Revue customer. Dutch broadcaster NOS launched a newsletter on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of The Netherlands from occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. It has attracted more than 20.000 subscribers after 7 issues.
Hope to be able to share a few more details on that one later.
The week in newsletters
But pop-ups were not the only newsletter news popping up in my feeds. So here’s what else you need to read about newsletters this week 📬
Newsletter knowledge sharing
Lessons in re-engagement and list hygiene
Engagement playbook
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Anna from Revue
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