Tue. May 21st, 2024

In the past, getting an email was akin to pulling out the spam in your mailbox. In recent years, however, it’s easier than ever to get rid of spammy messages, and it’s one of the best ways to follow your favorite news sources and keep up to date.

Newsletters Used to Go Into the Spam Folder

In the past, e-mails, in general, were just bad. Just like the junk mail that fills our physical mailboxes, we’d get even more junk in our e-mail inboxes. On any given day, your email would be flooded with poorly formatted, ad-filled newsletters that did little to make you want to read them. Not that you signed up for them in the first place—email addresses would constantly be added to mailing lists, and it wasn’t always easy to tell where they were coming from.

On top of that, unsubscribing to these newsletters was a nightmare. You had to figure out which broken link would let you unsubscribe and hope it did the job. Spam filters sometimes worked, but e-mail services and clients were (and still are) adept at changing email addresses to bypass spam filters.

With bad emails clogging your inbox, even if you wanted to subscribe to newsletters, you’d have to dig through all the spam to find them. Eventually, RSS feeds—and later, social media—were an easier way to keep track of important news or follow your favorite publications.

However, the dynamics gradually began to shift.

Now, I Love Newsletters

Over time, social media went from a good place to get fast snippets of news (whether from your friends or the news) to platforms littered with disinformation and inflammatory takes, making legitimate news hard to follow—especially when algorithms are intent on promoting hot takes over actual news. RSS feeds are technically still around, but they’re decidedly outdated at this point, and there aren’t many willing to set one up and troubleshoot the feed should something go wrong.

However, while social media began its decline, email clients started stepping up. Gmail and Outlook started introducing features that made cleaning up your inbox easier, such as the ability to unsubscribe with the click of a button, no digging through the email needed. While the spam emails haven’t stopped, it’s far less daunting to not only send unwanted messages to spam, but nip the problem in the bud by stopping future emails.

It’s not just the email clients that have gotten better, either. Emails are better formatted, less likely to contain broken links and images, and easily read on desktop or mobile. Also, thanks to services like Substack rising in popularity, it’s easier than ever to start a newsletter and make it look just as professional as a custom-made email.

Finally, emails aren’t beholden to the same algorithms social media posts must follow to succeed. A newsletter doesn’t need specific keywords or to follow the rules about what sizes your images should be or how many hashtags to use. Readers sign up, and they get the newsletter directly to their inbox. That’s it! There really is beauty in that sort of simplicity.

The Less Inbox Clutter, The Better

While newsletters are a great alternative to getting your news and information, you need to clean up the inbox you already have. You could just give up the old email address and start fresh, but a full reset isn’t viable if you need your specific address for logins, order tracking, or friends and work.

Instead, it’s best to have the email clients help do the work for you. Next time you get another spammy ad from a store, click on the email and unsubscribe. If you’re using Gmail, the unsubscribe button is right at the top of the email. Then, the client will attempt to unsubscribe for you (and is usually successful). If you’re worried about getting updates on orders, don’t be—stores will use a different email for order updates than a newsletter, so you can unsubscribe to your heart’s content.

It’s important to try to unsubscribe to emails you don’t want instead of sending them straight to spam. Many of the more annoying newsletters change the email address periodically, so they’ll eventually end up back in your inbox. The only way to truly get rid of these emails is to nip the problem in the bud and get your email address off the mailing lists.

Next, you’ll want to add any newsletters you want to read to your address book. Gmail and Outlook have very powerful spam filters, which, while great for the most part, mean legitimate emails can get sent to spam. Most legitimate newsletters don’t change their email addresses periodically, either, so you won’t need to keep checking to make sure your newsletters are coming in.

Depending on how long you’ve had the email address, it’ll take a while to clear all the spam out, but it’ll be worth it to kick social media to the curb and get good newsletters sent directly to your inbox.

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By John P.

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