Five E-mail Marketing Tips for Publishers
The publishing sector, it’s safe to say, is still largely driven by direct mail communication. But many publishing companies are testing into the e-mail channel to take advantage of its cost efficiencies and timeliness. At the DM Days New York Conference and Expo last month, several publishing experts took part in a session on offline and online marketing strategies that was moderated by Pegg Nadler, president of Pegg Nadler Associates. These panelists included Michelle Rutkowski, interactive marketing director at Taunton Press, a publisher of magazines, books and videos; Ann Wixon, executive marketing director of Healthy Directions, a newsletter publisher and provider of physician-branded supplements; and Tara Wexler, director of interactive marketing for List Services Corp., a full-service list firm.
On the subject of e-mail marketing, the panelists offered the following insights:
1. Taunton Press does internal appending between its postal database and e-mail database by collecting e-mail addresses at every point of contact with customers, including acquisition, renewals, change-of-address requests, etc. The publisher only asks for the customer’s name and e-mail address to make it a fast and easy process, which improves its collection rate. Rutkowski noted that this is a good way to help keep Taunton Press’ e-mail file up-to-date, since it’s easy to lose this information when customers switch their Internet service from broadband to high-speed—which usually is accompanied by a change in their e-mail address as they start using the e-mail service offered by their new ISP.
2. Wexler reports that A/B split tests conducted for her publishing clients resulted in depressed response for postal mailings that requested customers’ e-mail addresses. Another e-mail address acquisition option is to use an e-mail append service that only charges you for matches that convert; be sure the append file only contains people who opted in to receive third-party marketing messages.
3. People’s content expectations are different online than offline, says Wixon. People visit Web sites looking for very detailed, useful information on timely topics, so Healthy Directions’ Web prospecting strategy leverages this type of content as a lure to obtain visitors’ e-mail addresses for more targeted contact, including subscription and other product offers.
4. Wixon has found success with third-party sponsorships of e-mail newsletters that go to audiences that have demographics similar to that of Healthy Directions customers; in particular, e-mail newsletters from Boardroom Inc. and Agora Publishing are two that have worked well.
5. When communicating with prospects and subscribers, be careful not to use the same contact strategy for the e-mail channel as you do for the direct mail channel, says Rutkowski. E-mail is a personal medium; it’s not on a household level like direct mail, so improperly targeted mail that is not offensive usually doesn’t annoy the person sorting through the household’s mail the way an unsolicited e-mail to an individual’s e-mail account does, she explains. With collecting e-mail addresses already a challenge, you want to keep your opt-out rate as low as possible.