‘It’s always a struggle with reengagement’: How publishers rely on email

A constant for many publishers is email. But challenges including lapsed subscribers and the challenges of including traditional advertising in an email strategy, publishers can have a hard time justifying investment in the platform. Here’s some candid thoughts from publishing executives at the Digiday Hot Topic: Email for Publishing event held yesterday.

Limiting sign-up friction gets you more emails
“We stopped requiring first and last name at sign-up. It limits personalization, but there’s also less friction at sign-up. We missed having that information though.”

“You don’t want to ask for 15 things off the bat — just get their email. But on the second interaction, you can ask for more personalized information to get more data.”

“For now, my vision is to make the user journey a priority. User data will trickle in, and we can use that to make inferred relationships.”

Your most valuable subscriber is your brand evangelist
“A brand lover is worth 100 times more to you than a casual reader.” 

We get more than 1,000 views a day based off our referral program, and the referrals are incredibly high quality.”

“Thirty-seven percent of [paid] members were free newsletter subscribers first, and 10% of members subscribed directly from a free newsletter.”

“Four percent of our audience is a habitual reader who has seven or more sessions per month, but the average revenue per user in that group is five times that of a reader with one to four sessions [94% of their readership.]”

30 to 90 days is the best time to attempt reengagement
“Our retention program works best, we found, at 30 days, but we’re predominantly a daily newsletter company.”

“It’s always a struggle with reengagement. Is it worth the effort to reengage someone versus the value that you get from them after they are reengaged? Because we typically find that if they disengage, they don’t really want to come back.”

“Old subscribers for us, we find that since more often publishers are landing in the promotions folder, an email coming from a different email address than they normally receive the email from is really effective in reengaging people.” 

“What we started doing is actually buying their, what we call singles, so we’re able to see and match up in real time against their database when a user is opening and clicking other emails from other brands and then being able to trigger reengagement emails then, and that gives us a much better open and click-through rate.”

“We tend to look at it more of how we on-board people better to prevent them from disengaging. I think a lot of people are scared to ask upfront why you’re starting to disengage, but it’s about flagging it early so you’re not waiting for 90 days.”

Finding a place for affiliate links can increase the value of your newsletters
“The beautiful thing about affiliate data is that it can be used in many ways, but you can take it out to new advertisers to prove that there is an engaged audience getting to the point of sale in that email list.” 

“We have 42 newsletters that we’re tapping into that have a highly engaged audience; 10 are relevant for commerce on average, but depends on the time of year.” 

Include the editorial staff in your newsletter strategy
“For editors, being in the weeds helps them learn more about the audience than they would normally on the site, and that’s where we’re getting the ideas to create new newsletters — in the weeds.”

“Voice emails that utilize editorial talent build personal relationships with readers.”

“It’s important on the product-side to make the tools as easy as possible for editorial use and learn.”


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