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Which newsletter tool to use?

Hello newsletter experts, It's Mark from Revue with your weekly update on everything newsletters. Whi
The week in
A weekly update for newsletter editors and audience managers, sent every Tuesday morning in the US, afternoon in Europe, and evening in Asia.
Hello newsletter experts,
It’s Mark from Revue with your weekly update on everything newsletters.
Which tool are you using to write your newsletter? Did you get to choose it yourself? Are you happy with it?
I hear from publishers who are not satisfied with their current tool on a daily basis. They are, however, also reluctant to make a change because it’s a daunting project, requiring evaluations, a migration and adapting workflows.
In our experience it’s often worth it. If the new tool is better aligned with your objectives, it will reduce a lot of daily friction. So here are some thoughts on picking a tool that fits.
Choosing a newsletter tool
There are hundreds of newsletter tools out there and choosing the right one is not easy. Somebody actually made a comprehensive list of quite ominously 404 (not broken) email tools in case you wanted to check them all out:
So which one is right for you?
First off, I am clearly biased since I work for Revue, one of those 404 vendors on the list. But most of the following advice is by other experts, so I hope you find it useful.
If you look at the above list closely, you will have noticed that most of the tools are made for email marketing rather than newsletters. You could, of course, use those marketing tools for publishing newsletters, but you probably don’t want to.
Newsletter thought leader Ernie Smith summed it up nicely when asking “Why Are We Sending Editorial Newsletters With Marketing Tools?” back in early 2018:
If you’ve used MailChimp over a long period of time, you’ve seen the company put more and more focus on the marketing part of the email marketing equation. And while these things certainly matter to editorial publishers, they want to put out a great editorial product, too, and this shift gives the lingering feeling that the production part of the equation is getting pushed to the back burner.
So it might make sense to start by looking at what other newsletter publishers are using. That’s what newsletter consultant Dan Oshinsky has done with his new “guide to picking the right email tool for your newsroom”. He compares five tools commonly used by newsrooms: Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, MailChimp and Revue.
That list actually includes a number of marketing tools. Here’s Dan’s summary of where they fit best:
- Campaign Monitor: Newsrooms that need to be able to send lots of different types of emails — newsletters, automations, and transactional messages — from a single ESP.
- Constant Contact: Constant Contact’s the right tool for anyone who needs very basic functionality — the ability to send newsletters or a welcome series.
- ConvertKit: Bloggers or writers seeking to build a product that could be monetized through paid subscriptions or sales of digital products.
- MailChimp: Any newsroom that’s just getting started with email.
- Revue: A newsroom that needs an ESP specifically for their editorial team.
Besides that summary, Dan’s document contains a list of publishers that use the tool, as well as a few paragraphs about what it’s good at, what it’s lacking and what it costs. A great starting point for vendor selection.
A more newsletter focused list of vendors can be found in this crowdsourced Google sheet with almost 40 references to publishers and the email service provider they use.
The list contains Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Revue again, as well as some new names such as Exact Target, Sailthru or Sendgrid.
Another thing that’s interesting about the sheet is that it actually has two columns for email services: newsletters and marketing emails.
Some newsrooms are now switching to separate tools for editorial production and marketing automation. In that scenario, tools need to be integrated to keep lists in synch, but both the newsroom and the marketing team will have the best tools available at their hands.
The Chicago Sun-Times is an interesting case in point, combining Revue on the editorial side with a CRM and marketing tool. Lizzie Schiffman Tufano, Director of Audience Engagement, explains why:
The Sun-Times is using Revue in a really interesting way. They’ve made it their tool for all things editorial, but are using another ESP to handle transactional messages or marketing emails. Everything’s synced up through a central CRM, so there’s a single hub for all of their data. I think more newsrooms could learn from their example. You don’t have to have a single tool that does everything — you may be better suited by using specific ESPs for specific purposes.
So depending on your situation, you might be better off using a marketing email tool for newsletters, but will have to accept some limitations on the editorial production side. Or go with an editorial email tool, which might not have all the automation capabilities. Or go with two tools that you then have to synch up through a CRM.
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Mark from Revue

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