Orlando Sentinel Goes Local for Better Email Results
Problem: The Orlando Sentinel, central Florida's daily newspaper, lacked an email program that could effectively target and market to its local subscribers.
Solution: The newspaper contracted with an email marketing firm.
Results: Email maintenance costs have been reduced approximately $27,000 per year; in-house IT staff support has been reduced dramatically, cutting budget demands and freeing up staffers for separate projects; and improved reporting tools have led to better targeted and more profitable email campaigns.
Unable to communicate with local readers
Saddled with an email program that was complicated and required extensive vendor support, the Orlando Sentinel, a daily newspaper in central Florida, couldn't effectively communicate with its most important demographic, namely its local readers. From partnering with area businesses for marketing campaigns to notifying subscribers of online events and special features, email serves as a vital tool for the Orlando Sentinel. But the system it had in place wasn't flexible enough to let it cost effectively use the channel to its fullest capabilities.
So the Orlando Sentinel began a search for an email service provider that could better meet its needs, settling on Sacramento, Calif.-based StreamSend. Prior to working with StreamSend, things had gotten so bad that the Sentinel had abandoned all local-level email campaigns for nearly a year. They proved too difficult to create and weren't targeted properly to produce the results the company desired.
Previously, "we used an in-house product,” says Victor Plones, senior systems administrator for the Orlando Sentinel. “It was pretty expensive, pretty elaborate, and it needed a dedicated person to maintain it here locally. With the reductions in staff and cost cutting that's been going on over the last two years, we were looking for a simple solution where the marketing and advertising departments themselves could go in, walk through a simple couple of steps, set up a campaign and blast emails out, and then get instant feedback on the results of that blast.”
With the current email system providing near real-time feedback from its campaigns — e.g., who clicked on what link, who opened the email, who forwarded it, etc. — the Orlando Sentinel uses this information to better target its emails. For example, the newspaper sent an email blast to its local subscribers this year prior to Valentine's Day offering the opportunity to post a message to a loved one — either in print or online. The campaign drove incremental ad revenue that wouldn't have been possible prior to having a localized email solution.
More campaigns have followed with similar positive results. And even a new stream of revenue is being realized as a result of the Orlando Sentinel’s new email platform. Local businesses that advertise in print have begun asking the Sentinel to handle sending their email campaigns, providing an extra source of revenue.
Despite an increase in the number of email campaigns it's sending, the amount of maintenance needed for the Orlando Sentinel’s email system has been reduced dramatically. Maintenance costs are down nearly $27,000 per year. And the ease of use of the new system allows the marketing and advertising teams to blast email campaigns on their own, freeing up the Sentinel’s IT staff for other projects.
“The advertising and marketing departments would have to come to us to create these campaigns,” recalls Plones. “You had to import it as a database, run some validations on it. Then when you sent out a campaign, you had to process the feedback. And all of that had to be done by a technology person. Now it's so easy to use; the marketing and advertising users themselves are able to set up the campaigns — import the lists, send out the lists and then instantly get feedback. And the reports are right there for them. I don't even have to get involved.”