Cool Email Idea: Uniting Different Content around a Common Theme

What: Uniting different content around a common theme

Who: W. W. Norton & Company

Why we love it: Book lovers are a perfect audience for email newsletters – they love to read and they love to read about books. But book publishers often have few marketing resources and need to maximize every email they send. Paired with a diverse array of products to promote and this can quickly turn publisher newsletters into a muddled mess of content. W. W. Norton, one of the country’s oldest book publishers, has turned a disadvantage into an advantage by uniting a variety of books under a common theme. Here is a great example – they called it the “how-to” issue and included a bread cookbook, an illustrated guide to knife skills and a book on how to edit your own writing. By uniting these books around a common theme they make the newsletter more interesting for every reader, while still providing a diversity of content to hit different tastes.

What would make it better: More prominent viral marketing links. In addition to reading about books, book lovers love to share news about books with others. While this newsletter does include the standard “forward this email” link in the footer, that placement probably isn’t taking full advantage of the viral opportunity. Norton should experiment with specific calls to action in various sections. Even just adding more links throughout the newsletter could boost forwarding and grow the subscriber base.

Bonus points: The win a book contest! Each issue of Norton’s newsletter includes trivia question for a Norton book. Be the first to answer the question correctly and you win a book! This gives readers a fun way to interact with the email editors and gives the editor’s valuable insight into what the readers find interesting. It also turns the email program into a dialogue, rather than a monologue.

Check it out: Sign up for the Norton newsletter at

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