E-newsletters that are informative, convenient, and timely are often preferred over other media. However, a new study found that only 11% of newsletters were read thoroughly, so layout and content scannability are paramount.
Increased spam has made people even more stressed and impatient when processing their inboxes. Users have less tolerance than ever for newsletters that waste their time. Users often employ their spam filters to avoid newsletters that they no longer want.
The fact that many users will declare a newsletter to be spam when they tire of it has terrifying implications: legitimate newsletters might get blacklisted and thus ISPs might block their delivery to other subscribers. This is a compelling reason to increase the usability of the unsubscribe process: better to lose a subscriber than to be listed as spam.
The most frequent complaint was about newsletters that arrived too often. The advice here is to "keep it brief". Only 11% of the newsletters are read thoroughly - they are skimmed, never read or saved for later reading.
Designing for users who scan rather than read is essential for a newsletter's survival. Layouts must be designed to let users quickly grasp each issue's content and zero in on specifics. Content and writing styles must support users who read only part of the material.
Newsletters must be current and timely. They must justify their inbox space on a daily basis. Having been relevant in the past is not enough.
Finally, Jacob Nielsen states that email newsletters are so powerful that the best of them do have a future. However, the fight for inbox survival might leave room for only the most useful, targeted newsletters.
Source: Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox