E-mail is said to be entering a more mature phase in its lifecycle, heading for more widespread adoption of targeted contact strategy and more customized messaging. If that’s true, then Ron Stokes, director of marketing and advertising for nymag.com, New York magazine’s award-winning Web site, can be considered an early adopter. He and his team have taken a hard line on obtaining various levels of permission and then keeping the communication streams different to meet those preferences. The result is a responsive proprietary, editorial-driven e-mail housefile that remains robust year in, year out; pulls strong ad sponsorships; and helps support all of the publishers’ different divisions. Here, Stokes comments on how he balances subscriber communication with marketing opportunities.
Target Marketing: What different types of contacts make up your e-mail file?
Ron Stokes: The first group is the e-mail newsletter subscribers, and they come to us through a variety of sources. One is from the site itself; there is a master page where you can check off all the different newsletters. And then we’ve done site promotions that also make people aware [of the e-newsletters]—that’s most effective within the vertical. In other words, if it’s a dining newsletter—of which we have two—to promote that within the dining section on the site. Really and truly, I think all of the e-mail newsletter groups are important. I have a personal fondness for this group, however, because by choosing what newsletter they’re on, they’ve also indicated to me what vertical they’re interested in—which helps all of us here. It helps the editorial team to gauge what that universe is; it also helps us in terms of our marketing partners, in matching up sponsorship. So that newsletter list is extremely important to us.
There’s also an e-mail list of print subscribers. One group has only opted in to hear about their subscription. … There is another portion of that group that are also on e-mail newsletters. So those, I guess, are our biggest brand enthusiasts; they want the product in print and in e-mail. And when I say e-mail, that also then makes them a Web site user, because any of that content within that e-mail is going to link through to the site.