Newsletters - digital pollution or critical collateral?

Newsletters - digital pollution of critical collateral?
Newsletters - digital pollution of critical collateral?

Madeleine is in cull mode, unsubscribing to no less than 2340 newsletters sent to her email. Some are from random restaurants visited 10+ years ago on a city break. Others come from an array of sites ranging from clothing to real estate, mother and baby to fitness, beauty to sports clubs. It is an (oddly) euphoric feeling to hit unsubscribe…or maybe it’s not so odd at all. It turns out an email has a carbon footprint of about 4g of CO2 and a large attachment could hike that up to 50g. Subscriptions and promotion emails can clutter between 20-60% of your email account.

If you’re a business..

We’ve written before about the size of our digital footprint and our efforts to reduce it in terms of our website. Digital marketers will tell you newsletters are more effective than any other form of customer engagement and will lead to more sales. But everyone is agreed, they have to be done well. Accounting for the energy consumed by creating, sending, receiving and storing a newsletter matters as much as the content within. With some companies seeing average open rates of only 15%, we’re curious to know if they’re even worth making?

Pop Quiz! Please answer honestly…

Is having hyper engaged ‘openers’ who genuinely care about what you’re putting out into the world better than a deluge of subscribers, a fraction of whom even know what you sell?

Do you write to those people who firmly remain ‘The Unopeners’ (those who never, ever open your newsletter) and ask them do they wish to unsubscribe?

Have you asked subscribers what section of your newsletter they like least with a view to removing it?

Does your business really need a newsletter?

Smaller, more concise newsletters equal smaller, less polluting footprints. Making a newsletter mobile responsive will help drive up open rates, in fact the percentage of open rates on mobile was at 81% in 2020 and growing year on year). We cannot control how an end user uses their device, what energy they purchase or how they manage their battery. But we can make sure we’re not part of the problem by creating streamlined, relevant and easy to read newsletters.

Less is more

At Change by Degrees, our rule of thumb is to write newsletters when we have something useful to say. We have one coming out next week that we’ve spent time building and feel confident will be of value to our clients. It’s hard to get it right but, for us, clogging up your inbox with information you’ve probably already spotted on a LinkedIn post to remind you we exist, seems pointless. At the heart of sustainability is efficiency. In terms of newsletters, that means respecting subscribers and only emailing a newsletter that will genuinely add something useful to their day.


If you are a serial subscriber…

While simply unsubscribing to newsletters is tokenistic in terms of making real impact, it sends a clear message to brands that only material that is, well, material, to you will be read. Remember, your laptop, screen, printer and monitor are still on, zapping energy. The data centres are still beavering away.

Digital pollution is a real and growing issue, and creating a strategy with your digital marketer that is built on efficiency and value first, helps shrink that footprint to a size you can be proud of. Subscribers, and the planet, will thank you for it.