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.”
‘We see a world where publisher data replaces third-party data’: News U.K. puts its data at the nucleus of post-cookie push for media budgets
News U.K. has overhauled the way it collects, sorts and monetizes its audience data across all its titles via first-party data platform Nucleus.
Here’s why the loss of the third-party cookie is heading toward a collapse in the middle
In the absence of third-party cookies, marketers will need to work more closely with trusted publishers to reach their audiences. Who will lose out? It is posed for a collapse in the middle.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: What to expect from the Digiday Publishing Summit
This week's Media Briefing previews the upcoming Digiday Publishing Summit, which kicks off on Sept. 27 and will feature speakers from media companies including The Washington Post, BDG, Group Nine Media and Essence.
SponsoredHow retailers can be ready for holiday shoppers this year
Suchi Sastri, managing director and partner, Boston Consulting Group As the holiday season approaches and the pandemic continues to evolve, retailers want to know what to expect. Will e-commerce continue to grow at the rate it did last year? How big of a role will in-store shopping play in holiday shopping? While it’s still early, […]
How the pandemic has been a real a buzz kill for office happy hour bonding, culture
As COVID-19 crawls on, more companies are rethinking the wisdom of mixing booze and the stresses of the workplace.
‘Football has lost its soul’: How Copa90 is repositioning itself around the creator economy
Copa90’s overseers believe there’s another shift happening in tandem with the corporatization of the sport that has the potential to be just as transformative