Today's second-of-three installments provides email newsletter opportunities, simple and fast adjustments that you can make today. These tips, designed to better engage and retain readers and advertisers, were developed by Brad Best, RJI's advertising editor, and a team of Missouri School of Journalism students after weeks of analysis of a major Midwest metro daily.
Good email newsletters act as a convenient, curated guide to the daily news
- Convenience: Emails should be accessible for readers. They don’t float down a page quickly, readers can return to them in their inbox whenever they’d like, and they can be read anywhere and whenever a reader has free time.
- Curation: Email newsletters aggregate the most important news of the day in one place, and can be customized to specific interests of subscribers.
- Connection: Email allows a newspaper to connect with users on a one-to-one level, which also improves the ability to attract ad revenue.
So . . . how can you attract new subscribers to your email newsletter?
Optimize the registration process.
- Primary research from the Nielsen Norman Group discovered that a decrease in the registration process time from 5 minutes to 3.5 minutes led to a 6 percent increase in subscriptions.
- Identifying a sign-up link and taking time to enter information on the form are the top two areas of trouble for most readers.
- It’s important to promote your newsletter service on your website. It can be promoted with a call to action, like “Stay in touch with the latest news instantly.”
- Run advertisements for your email service on the website, just as you would for a mobile app.
- Make the actual registration easier—remove unnecessary questions from the form, such as the security question and state.
But how do you maintain and engage subscribers once you have them?
Subject Lines: Short and Sweet
- A Marketing Sherpa 2010 study found that emails with subject lines of 35 characters or less resulted in 52 percent higher open rates than emails with longer subjects.
- Shorter headlines can be a boon for advertising rates too: click rates in these emails increased by 69 percent.
- By switching newsletter advertising rates from a flat rate of $150 to a cost-per-open rate of $.03, implementing this sort of change to headlines will significantly increase profits.
Personalization: Say Hello
- Marketing Sherpa’s study also found emails with personalized bodies led to an 80 percent increase in click rates—serious revenue.
- Personalized subject lines, however, led to a decrease in opens.
- Begin emails with a name. Email service providers allow newspapers to do this. But don’t just lead awkwardly from there to headlines . . .
- . . . continue with a note from an actual person, be it a reporter or editor. The email should also come from that person (i.e., Irvin Harrell, Business Editor) instead of the company (i.e., Business Briefing from STLtoday.com.)
Design: Remove Clutter, Consider Images
- Standardize a white background color. Using colored backgrounds makes it difficult to read emails, and sometimes prompts email services to treat them as spam.
- Remove large images from weekly emails. More than 60 percent of recipients use image-blocking, which means they also aren’t seeing advertisements.
- Use the alt-attribute: coding that replaces blocked images with text. This way, ad space will feature content whether the user has images blocked or not. Papers could even include text-based ads as well.
- Remove unnecessary links: a Nielsen Norman Group study found that almost 70 percent of users read email newsletters by scanning.
Distribution: How to Stay in the Inbox
- According to research from Comm100, companies shouldn’t send more than two thousand emails to an email provider in an hour.
- Only use one exclamation point, total, in each newsletter.
- Encourage your subscribers to add your paper to their contact/address book in the beginning of the first newsletter/the first line of the user’s confirmation letter after registering.
Advertising: Switch to Cost-Per-Open
- Instead of charging advertisers flat rates like $150, once you’ve made all the necessary optimizations for your newsletter, charge cost-per-open. Use something similar to what the paper would for e-blasts, around $.03 per open.
- Using this cost-per-open rate can earn significantly more profit than the flat rate.
- Based on industry standards determined by email service provider mailchimp.com, the real value of a business email is actually closer to $206.
The upcoming installment will cover best practices for social media.
Want to know how these tips will affect your bottom line? Each market is different, and each news organization has a unique footprint. Brad Best and RJI can analyze your traffic and other key digital metrics to show you exactly how and where to grow your digital revenue.
You'll be surprised at the dollars you are currently leaving on the table. Call (573) 884-9121.