LinkedIn Newsletters – What I Have Learned In 12 Months Of Publishing  

In late July 2020 I received an email from LinkedIn saying I now had publishing privileges for the LinkedIn Newsletter. I published my first LinkedIn Newsletter a couple weeks later. The tacit agreement you have with LinkedIn is that you publish on a regular basis and in return, LinkedIn will notify your subscribers when you publish. So I have had this thing for a year now and here are my (very opinionated) observations so far. 

When you publish your first issue, LinkedIn sends a notice to all of your connections and followers telling them you have a newsletter and offering them an opt in. It seems LinkedIn only does this the one time

I mentioned above that you have a tacit agreement with LinkedIn on publishing frequency. I have never tested this part as one of my core practices in publishing regularly is paying attention to the “regularly” part. I don’t know what, if anything, would happen to someone who failed to publish regularly. 

As of this writing I have just over 21,000 subscribers, with another 200 or so signing up each week. That’s the awesome part. There are some not so good parts. The first is that LinkedIn doesn’t really give you any tools to parse your subscribers. I can scroll through the list and that’s it. 

LinkedIn says they send a notification to all my subscribers whenever I publish, either on their mobile, via email or through their notifications on LinkedIn. It’s configurable. While I have heard from a few people saying they have not received notifications, it seems they are the exception, not the rule. I have no clue whether there is any distribution of the newsletter outside of the subscribers.

For each newsletter, I can view the same statistics we would see for a post or article – the number of reactions, comments and reshares, along with the vague stats on top companies my readers came from, where they are located and their job titles. I wish LinkedIn would provide statistics that were more valuable. For example, I would love to be able to see the distribution of my subscribers by title, function, geography, and company size. I would love to be able to see how many of my readers are regular readers. 

The one stat that is different and it’s a big difference is the number of “views”. In the case of LinkedIn newsletters, these are all the people who opened it. I can see that my newsletter from last week has been opened over 5700 times. That’s an open rate of around 27%. I don’t know how other LinkedIn newsletter writers do with their open rates, but this 27% area seems to be how I usually do. It’s lower than my email newsletter’s open rate but my gut feel is that my LinkedIn Newsletter subscribers are a little more ephemeral in terms of their interest than my email subscribers. One of the indicators for this is the fact that I get thirty new subscribers every day, but only one or two bother looking at my profile. 

And as I was able to ascertain a couple weeks ago, a goodly number of my subscribers really are ephemeral. I was able to identify a whole whack of fake LinkedIn profiles, a handful of which had signed up for my newsletter. I will have more on that little adventure in a future newsletter. So maybe we should be taking those subscriber numbers with a large grain of salt. 

I am also thinking that that “opens” percentage is going to become more important as the “open”  statistic looks to become less usable on email newsletters this fall (for more info on this, just look up changes Apple is making to their email utility).

I have found that with the LinkedIn Newsletter that I don’t have to publish opuses (is the plural of opus “opii” ?). I have the same attitude towards the newsletter that I have always had towards other publishing on LinkedIn – less is more. If I can explain some aspect or idea about using LinkedIn in three hundred words then that’s how long the newsletter is going to be. I have never had complaints that my writing is too long (though maybe I will today, as this edition is just shy of eleven hudnred words).

As someone who writes and publishes on LinkedIn, I think the LinkedIn Newsletter is a very good feature that has some drawbacks. As someone who also publishes a weekly email newsletter, I wish there was more information and feedback on the people who choose to unsubscribe like how many and why. 

LinkedIn says they are rolling this out to everyone. It is invite-only right now. I know a dozen people (out of the hundreds I know pretty well on LinkedIn) who also have the Newsletter feature. It seems to have been offered to people who have a track record of publishing regularly which makes sense. Maybe LinkedIn thinks these people will write better newsletters and keep it going (which is kind of important for a newsletter). I don’t know this to be the case but I had heard something similar was done with LinkedIn Live when it came out – you had to apply and LinkedIn was looking for people who were used to doing this type of thing already. They seemingly wanted it to look good for the masses. 

But…LinkedIn says they want to support Creators. And this rollout is taking forever. My only guess would be that LinkedIn is concerned that the newsletter will make a mess of some other program that either exists now or is in the works. Maybe newsletters will somehow sidetrack users and make them less available for sponsored content in the feed.

As a LinkedIn user, this is the feature that would truly allow me to curate and create a feed of content from the people I truly want to follow and whose content I want to be aware of. Having that ability would make me want to invest more time on LinkedIn and also get me more involved. I don’t think I am the only person who feels this way. 

LinkedIn has added a pile of new features in the past year – big deals like Creator Mode and Service Pages, and their Clubhouse killer is in the works. So why is the newsletter rollout so slow?