July 21, 2016
The Washington Post announced today a new addition to the suite of publisher-focused services and products called “Arc”: It’s now offering a custom email newsletter delivery platform, called Paloma. From the official WaPo announcement, the service will be “a light-weight, fast platform that features an intuitive content editor, making it easy for reporters to compose text within the system,” built via Amazon‘s proprietary “Simple Email Service.”
Paloma can be purchased individually, as an add-on, or through the main Arc service. Pricing has not been announced.
Just last week, I argued for the importance of a high quality email newsletter platform: The current heavyweight, Mailchimp, can’t offer the essential metrics publishers rely on. The biggest issue is email’s open rate. It can’t be measured properly if the email is over 102kb, since Gmail will automatically trim away the section that holds Mailchimp’s data-recording function.
Paloma Offers Formats That Might Not be Needed…
WaPo will offer features on their email newsletter delivery platform that include social media embeds, they explain:
“Journalists can create custom templates for specific newsletters, allowing for a mix of curated content as well as content pulled in via feeds. Posts from social channels can be quickly added using only a link and Paloma’s responsive design ensures multimedia elements fit seamlessly alongside text.”
I’m not sure any of the added features are as great as WaPo thinks, given that unformatted emails actually perform far better on average than highly designed ones: Audiences apparently consider the more formatted ones to be too professional in a hermetically sealed way. For marketing emails, at least. News or entertainment emails may come across differently.
…And Data That Is Absolutely Needed
More important, however, is the news that Paloma will offer the data and metrics that publishers need and can’t currently get out of any other email newsletter delivery platform. According to Jeremy Barr at AdAge, whose work in the email newsletter space can always be counted on, Washington Post chief information officer Shailesh Prakash says Paloma “addresses a lot of the issues that media publishers are dealing with,” and includes functions for native ads and custom sponsorship banners.
I guess I could pat myself on the back for predicting the importance of WaPo’s new service, but if I was really great, I could have predicted it a little sooner. From Barr:
“Maybe he’s just being a good businessman, but Mr. Prakash said he’s talked to a bunch of media types who have complained about the landscape of email newsletter platforms and expressed interest in a new solution — though he said they wouldn’t put that sentiment on the record.”
WaPo is definitely filling a need, and they can’t have come at a better time. Given Facebook’s recent algorithm updates, publishers will be more invested than ever in connecting with their audiences, and email newsletters have proven a consistent medium for doing just that.
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