Decoding newsletters, part two. Types and genre.

Mapping newsletter with a simple taxonomy.

Decoding newsletters, part two. Types and...

The reader experience: from a “read-in-the-newsletter” diving experience to a “skim-and-click” newsletter.


Long-form-content written expressly for the newsletter and meant for reading in the mail. “Full dive” in-the-newsletter behaviour. Many of these newsletters come from independent authors and publishers and are the object of a paid distribution model. Some established publishers, like The Wall Street Journal (e.g. the Elevate the Conversation newsletter), use the format to reach new audiences and experiment new editorial formats.

  • Tech and Media newsletter by Simon Owen


Long-form-content, written expressly for the newsletter with some options to click through: additional links at the end of the newsletters or a few hyperlinks to expand on important topics. The core experience takes still place in the reader’s inbox, but there is a further offer to go back to the core digital product. Daily/morning/evening briefing newsletters often adopt this format.

  • Der Spiegel morning briefing: Die Lage am morgen.


Read and click through 50/50%. Some content is written for the newsletter, but options to click through are more pronounced. This content provides orientation and guides readers through the topics, with brief summaries or a general introduction. Plus, links for digging deeper in each topic are available. It is a newsletter that does not aim at generating pure click through. Sometimes, links to do not go back to the publisher’s core product but point to third parties.

These newsletters tread the line between link digests and standalone editorial newsletters. Publishers use these newsletters to provide more context and insight besides trying to drive traffic back to their websites.

  • Vox Sentences: the News, but Shorter


Mostly or purely click through. These newsletters are link-heavy and designed to provide readers with information, but also to drive them to full stories on the web. It is the oldest type of format. A list of links can annoy, or it can deliver a great curated experience: the choice of links, a brief introduction and a well-made summary before each link, and impactful design. There are many ways to transform a click-through newsletter into a valuable product, useful for promoting digital subscriptions or memberships but also pleasant to scan.

  • This is Europe by The Guardian.

Duration: from finite series to no-end-in-sight.

Frequency: from news alerts to monthly newsletters.

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