Audience Engagement Guest Columns
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How Quartz continuously finds success in pop up newsletters

Over the past year, Quartz has been building a pop-up newsletter strategy under our Need to Know brand. While Quartz had produced short-term newsletters in the past on a somewhat ad hoc basis for big events like the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, or the United Nations General Assembly, bringing all of our new pop-ups under the Need to Know umbrella has allowed us to define and promote that brand as well as streamline and standardize the newsletter process.

We had initially launched Quartz’s coronavirus newsletter as the first Need to Know pop-up, but obviously that did not go as planned—it is still going more than 18 months later! Instead, we first got to test out the strategy for Need to Know: Tokyo Olympics over the summer. Then, we took those learnings for Need to Know: COP26, a pop-up around the UN’s climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November.

There are several reasons why pop-up newsletters make sense for Quartz. First, it provides us with an opportunity to join the conversation around a major topic or event while presenting it through the Quartz lens. How do the Olympics fit into the global economy? How will the agreements coming out of COP26 help make business better? When we’re competing against dozens of other COP26 newsletters, we need to make it clear through our voice, point of view, and content selection why someone should read Quartz’s COP26 newsletter.

Second, a pop-up is a great way to get readers to form a habit for the short-term that can lead to them coming back more consistently over the long-term. When a reader enjoys seeing us in their inbox every day, they are likely to keep seeking out Quartz once the pop-up has ended. We also encourage pop-up readers to subscribe to our regular emails, like the Quartz Daily Brief, or sign up for a Quartz membership, both during the initial onboarding process and within the pop-up newsletters.

Lastly, pop-ups give our team a chance to experiment with new formats and content types within emails that can be used in our other products such as newsletters or website Essentials. Whether it’s a quiz, emoji list, or animated gif demonstrating a Quartz interactive graphic, we try to make the newsletters as fun—and click-worthy—as possible.

We consider our pop-up strategy to be a success for building brand awareness and driving conversions to other Quartz products. Need to Know: Tokyo Olympics had more than 13,000 subscribers, while Need to Know: COP26 had more than 11,000. Many of those who signed up came via social media and were completely new to Quartz. That means we get to introduce them to the brand and what they can expect from the full Quartz experience, as well as capture their email addresses for editorial and marketing initiatives down the road. And due to our various pre-, mid-, and post-pop-up tactics, thousands of Need to Know readers have been converted to Daily Brief readers.

Our pop-ups have also had an impact beyond email. For example, many of the short essays we planned for our Olympics newsletter were published in a longer form as articles on, allowing us to reach an even wider audience—and drive more people to the pop-up in the process. While the content is often “newsletter first” and generally intended to have a short shelf life, that doesn’t mean some of it can’t continue to be a traffic driver after the pop-up has ended.

Liz Webber
Deputy Email Editor, Quartz

Liz Webber is the deputy email editor at Quartz, where she oversees newsletters including the Quartz Daily Brief and pop-ups like Need to Know: Tokyo Olympics and Need to Know: COP26.

Quartz is a digitally native business news organization with a mission to make business better. Our 50 journalists around the world specialize in analysis of the global economy for an audience of purpose-driven professionals. We help our readers discover new industries, new markets, and new ways of doing business that are more sustainable, innovative, and inclusive. Quartz is the top business publication for global executives ages 25-45, and we have been a pioneer in premium, mobile-first, native advertising experiences since our founding in 2012.