Why Are We Sending Editorial Newsletters With Marketing Tools?

In the past few years, we’ve seen a vibrant world of email newsletters with no goal beyond telling you a great story, perhaps with some ads attached. But despite this, many email marketing tools seem focused on … well, marketing. Perhaps these big companies should create email writing tools, too.

Ernie Smith
5 min readJan 8, 2018


You could hear the heartbeats of a million indie publishers pause simultaneously last week.

And for good reason: A report on Inc. revealed that MailChimp was looking to take its popular-but-small-scale email writing tool TinyLetter and push it back into the mealy gullet of the mothership. The report came out nearly a month ago, but few people caught it until last week — at which point a whole lot of amateur publishers freaked out until MailChimp CEO Ben Chestnut sent a note attempting to calm the masses.

I’m not a TinyLetter user myself, but as someone who publishes an editorial newsletter, I certainly am a part of the movement it spearheaded. Why did it freak so many people out that premature eulogies seemed to take over certain corners of the internet?

I’d like to think that the problem comes down to this: Most email tools are not built for editorial production. They’re built for marketing, and often editorial uses get shoehorned, sometimes awkwardly, into these tools.

Missing from this tagline: “Tell great stories.”

And to be honest, the biggest example of this is MailChimp, a hugely popular tool with an interface that puts more focus on the segmentation and design parts of marketing than it does on actually writing the message you’re going to send your readers. The point is underlined plainly on the MailChimp front page: “Build your brand. Sell more stuff.”

This is a fairly exclusionary tagline, and is unfortunate because it says right out that if you’re not a marketer, this isn’t the service for you.



Ernie Smith

Editor of @readtedium, the dull side of the internet. You may know me from @ShortFormBlog. Subscribe to my thought machine: http://tedium.co/