Drawing readers to your publication with email

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A recent article in the Daily Clips, entitled "5 Ways Email Will Evolve in 2017," caught my attention. While all five areas will not apply to media publications, some of the concepts should.

One statement: "Customer experience will be the single most important attribute ... and your role as an email marketer will be to develop programs that touch various parts of a customer's journey."

Assuming you have reader email addresses and permission to email them, and perhaps have grouped them by type of interest, I would interpret this as emailing quick headlines with links to your website (or pay website).  If possible, provide the day and page when the full article will be in the print edition to encourage readership.  If you have not started getting email addresses, this would be a good time to start.

Another use of the email list you have: promote your special sections and special publications. Even if you don't charge for these, the impact of increased awareness and readership should increase advertising sales.

And don't overlook the community goodwill you will gain by using the email database to alert your community of events, especially fund-raising events.  While this likely will not show an identifiable impact to your bottom line, you may be surprised how it increases readership and subscriptions because you are "their" newspaper.  

Another article recently projected that the largest advertising source category would be direct mail – a 24 percent share, and stating that newspapers in print and online combined would be less than 11 percent. This is perhaps one more reason to be sure your publication provides its community with the news it wants. Of course, we can all remember how accurate the election forecasts were, so let's hope the same people made this projection.

Another article on emails reported that only 5 percent of recipients feel that emails are relevant and timely. This is a major issue if you are trying to grow email acceptance and use it to increase readership of your publication.  So the question, largely still unanswered, is how to improve on the relevance of your email.

Perhaps you should send your email to yourself and some of your staff first to get their reaction.

  • Did they see it?
  • Did they want to open it?
  • Did the subject drive them to open the email?

If you want to really find out, don't let them know the email is coming. Try a few variations on different days. Expand the concept with a "focus group" of email recipients. Most people read the subject line like a headline; if catchy they will open the email.  But if the subject line is very long, it may not be fully seen on many computers. It should be more like a billboard, something concise and brief, perhaps "news update" or "major local news" or "happening now." Then you can expand on this in the email body.  But, bear in mind that much of it will not be seen until the email is opened, so start with key words.

Just saying ...

Lewis Floyd is a senior associate with WB Grimes & Company, with responsibility for the Southern states.  He may be reached at (850) 532-9466 or lfloydmedia@gmail.com.

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