Why The Financial Times’ newsletters aren’t for everyone
The Financial Times is unusual among news publishers for its reliance on subscriber revenue; it makes more than half of its money this way. The FT’s email newsletters are particularly aimed at retaining and upselling its subscribers, who can pay a rich $249 a year for standard digital and up to $612 a year for premium print plus digital.
“There was always a sense of bringing in new readers,” said Andrew Jack, head of curated content at the FT. “But premium is a real area of focus. We’ve redoubled around premium to get people to upgrade.” To that end, the FT is launching a new newsletter for premium subscribers on Monday. Called Authers’ Note, it’ll feature a daily briefing by senior investment commentator John Authers on Wall Street after the closing bell.
Jack leads a staff of five devoted full-time to newsletters; editorial staffers at various news desks handle much of the daily newsletter writing. Eight other newsletters, including Best of Lex, Brexit Briefing and Opening Quote, are available only to standard or premium subscribers. Another nine are available to non-paying but registered users.
The FT clearly feels it’s doing something right with newsletters, since it’s launched 12 in the past two years alone, including Brexit Briefing, fintechFT and White House Countdown this year. It claims more than 750,000 total opens a week across its eight subscriber-only newsletters (which could include the same person opening one more than once).
Each newsletter is growing by a single digit percentage per month in net new signups (after accounting for people who unsubscribe). Their total open rates range from 25 percent to 50 percent (38.5 percent is the open rate for media and publishing newsletters as measured by email marketing company MailChimp).
Increasingly, publishers are putting out newsletters that are designed to be a product unto themselves and read entirely in email. Similarly with the FT’s premium newsletters, they tend to have a lot of original content, and because their recipients are already subscribing, the FT doesn’t need them to click back to the site. It’s the opposite with the free newsletters, which have less original content and are designed for people to click through to the site, where they’ll likely hit the FT’s high paywall.
It’s hard to tell if newsletters are actually getting people to subscribe because there are so many triggers that get people to subscribe, though. However, if they click to subscribe directly from the email, the newsletter can take all the credit. (Jack wouldn’t say how much, though.)
And while getting signups is good, the FT also ultimately wants its newsletters to pay for themselves. That’s hard for publishers to do because there’s no third-party auditor of newsletters.
Jack said the newsletters get “significant” revenue from standard and sponsorship ads, but acknowledged the measurement issues and expectations that the newsletters pay their own way. “Clearly, the long-term objective is that newsletters are part of an editorial package that should be generating income.”
‘There’s no revenue on it’: Why publishers aren’t prioritizing Instagram Reels
With no immediate way to make revenue, some publishers don't want to prioritize original content for the new 15-second format.
The second wave of agency staff cost cuts is starting to build — but it might not crash as hard as the spring swell
The first wave of pandemic-induced agency labor cuts were about survival. The next is about how agencies set themselves up going forward.
‘Dying to work’: With A-list talent sitting at home, publishers eye video collaboration opportunities with them
Production companies can't shoot movies or shows, so publishers are trying to make themselves useful to talent.
SponsoredSeeking revenue stability, publishers are assessing buy-side credit risks
As the industry navigates the continued impacts of COVID-19, here’s the questions publishers should ask their programmatic partners or ad management providers to protect themselves from clawbacks and lost revenue.
‘Safe-space’ signs and which direction to face: At 30% capacity, how News UK is returning to the office
Now, with a maximum of three per elevator, "safe space" signs show people which direction to face and are manned by a team who press the buttons for staff.
The subscribe page has become a laboratory for news publishers experimenting with revenue stream options
The subscribe page on news publishers' websites has become an area of continuous testing for some news publishers.