E-mail Strategies and Tactics Exposed: WashingtonPost.com
While the media has reported extensively on how the Barack Obama campaign brilliantly used new media and old media — in new ways — to communicate and win the White House, very few traditional media outlets have fully embraced multichannel communications and the social Web.
As consumers continue to adopt enabling technologies to make themselves more efficient self-organizers/hyper-connectors/mass producers of their own media, media brands must adapt. By relinquishing control and providing multichannel distribution options, including mechanisms that invite the recipient to help spread the word and perhaps become part of the story themselves, media brands can reinvent the way they communicate and reach the American public. So the big question is, How and where do you start? One brand that’s starting to make its e-mail more interesting, more engaging, more social and more relevant is WashingtonPost.com. And one specific example is the WashingtonPost.com’s Political News & Analysis newsletter.
The newsletter contains bold headlines and subheads to engage readers and actively promotes multiple alternatives to receive that news, such as mobile or podcasts. It also shows hints of inviting recipients to participate further with its brand. In this particular example, it’s an ad/fee-based effort. In addition, WashingtonPost.com is one of the few news outlets I’ve seen that allows users to personalize some of its newsletters further and even reminds users they can do so within the newsletter itself.
As a result, the WashingtonPost.com example highlighted here embraces the notion of consumer control and relevance in an age where the social Web has taken center stage. It’s an impressive program and one that every media outlet should mirror. The corresponding graphic highlights the various winning components of the WashingtonPost.com’s Political News & Analysis newsletter.
That said, as with all newsletters, the Post can go further and do some things better. With that in mind, I would offer the following advice and suggestions:
- Use alt tags. These tags allow readers to understand content when images are blocked.
- Offer community and participation opportunities. Introduce polls, and highlight more participatory opportunities, such as message boards online where engaged readers can continue the conversation or check out what other readers have to say. This is particularly important with topics that attract a passionate following, as is the case with politics and sports.
- Embrace the social Web. Give users the ability to share, e-mail and post stories quickly and easily to their social profiles, blogs, social bookmarking or content-sharing sites. By seamlessly integrating those capabilities, WashingtonPost.com no doubt will see traffic soar. And as always, don’t forget that all forward-to-a-friend campaigns must comply with CAN-SPAM requirements. Nice job WashingtonPost.com.