On-demand newsletters: Newsletters are based on an old, tried-and-true technology, but still have a lot of potential. Dirk von Gehlen, director of the Research Center at SZ Institute, has an idea: newsletters that appear in someone’s mailbox just when they need them – ie, because they’ve just changed their place of residence and are different from the day they move should be redirected. von Gehlen’s expert tip with more ideas for further development of the newsletter appears as part of the news weeks to celebrate the 15th birthday of the turi2 morning newsletter.
How will newsletters evolve, Dirk von Gehlen?
The second best thing about newsletters Their style is very simple and immediately understandable. No one needs to install an app or create an account to use this type of posting. There’s only one thing about newsletter technology that’s better: it doesn’t need to be improved. The protocols that enable mail to be sent are based on the idea of a network that does not need a central hub: SMTP, POP3, IMAP, and SMAP ensure that accounts can communicate with each other – completely independent of the devices or operating systems they manage.
This simplicity reminds us of the magic of the Internet – which is why, despite its progression, email is still touted as the next big thing. This simplicity and above all this decentralized architecture should not change, despite spam or phishing attempts.
However, there is still a lot of potential for further development in this very old technology. This includes explicit methods for presenting applications that act as an RSS reader for newsletters – and removing them from your email inbox. According to this principle, one can imagine many other approaches to sorting and grouping newsletters by topic.
But for me personally, the greatest potential for newsletter development lies in a constant focus on readers. First of all, newsletters are nothing more than letters that are sent. But unlike their metaphorical paper brethren, newsletters are not necessarily created by the sender. They can be created on, by and for recipients. The potential of newsletter technology can be seen at all three levels, which very clearly demonstrate the direction one might call the “end of the mean”.
It’s always about giving everyone more than one message: Creating newsletters for recipients means using their context data: location, time, and location are just as important as the readers’ prior knowledge. In this way of thinking, objectivity is no longer an absolute external category, but a concrete objective subject matter of the reader nourished by his life. A concrete example of this approach is newsletters aimed at people who are new to the city. In proportion to their new residence, they receive a newsletter that lasts for several weeks, which begins when the reader has moved — not when the publication wants to send it.
In order for newsletters to be created by readers, they need an active community. In the early stage of the Internet, so-called mailing lists demonstrated the potential of interactive newsletters, where the passive audience becomes an active community sharing knowledge. Here, only one broadcaster is no longer sending the content, everyone can participate. Portions of this mass distribution can be found today in messaging or FB groups. A concrete example of such a newsletter could be a dedicated, active community that does not share “recipes for everyone”, but rather cooking instructions appropriate to the specific needs shared by the community.
You can learn what it means to create newsletters for your readers if you consider it “on demand” not only in terms of time but also in terms of content: readers not only indirectly determine the content by their location or prior knowledge (see point 1), but you can ask A very straightforward newsletter episode for a specific point in time, to the extent that it fits their available time budget. In this way, you can also create newsletters from existing content: “Book as Newsletter” opens up completely new domains and revenue models – I call it buch-brief-ing.de. A concrete example of this approach is my book Ananleitung zum Unkreativsein, where readers could order an eleven-week newsletter that was more like a weekly workshop.
Dirk von Gehlen serves as Think Tank Director at SZ Institute. He writes the running newsletter minutenmarathon.de for SZ, has released a newsletter from his book “Ananleitung zum Unkreativsein” (Instructions for the Non-Creative Object) and sends out his digital notes once a month.
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