Email Newsletter Study: Surprising Initial Results

I’ve been tracking my newsletter intake over the past week, and I must admit to being rather surprised at the results.

I received only 55 messages from 37 sources that can be described as newsletters, and it took a total of only 72 minutes to read them, including any associated links I was tempted to click on.

Six of these contained at least one piece of information that helps me do my job better, and thirteen messages (from nine sources) managed to pique my interest on subjects that have little bearing on my job.

According to this, approximately 34% of the messages contained something useful or interesting. Does that mean I’m wasting 66% of my time reading useless newsletters just on the off-chance that I’ll find something valuable? Apparently not: 62 out of the total 72 minutes (86%) were spent reading messages from sources that gave useful or interesting information. So I wasted only 10 minutes on useless newsletters. 

This is rather surprising, as I had assumed that I would be able to save a significant amount of time by unsubscribing from the less valuable newsletters. I’m still going to unsubscribe from some of the newsletters, as it will considerably reduce unnecessary inbox clutter.

I’m going to continue measuring for another few weeks, as I need more data points from the newsletters that I receive only once a week. I’m hoping to develop some rules of thumb to help decide what to keep and what to cut.

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3 responses to “Email Newsletter Study: Surprising Initial Results

  1. Did you use any software to track time etc.? Or have you made everything by hand?

  2. Christoff: I resisted the urge to write a program to track my Newsletter usage, and used a spreadsheet and a stopwatch instead.

  3. My problem is that I receive newsletters and *never* read them. They remain unopened, buried for years in my email. I can’t seem to delete them or unsubscribe because I know they probably *do* contain something useful or interesting. And I don’t open them because I feel they will take more time than I have to read them, even skimmingly.

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