Pink's Cynthia Good on Improving E-mail Newsletter Delivery
Plenty of women hate the color pink and wouldn't have enough time to leaf through magazines even if it were 100 degrees and they could use them as fans. But whether they're purposely defying tradition or simply following their own paths, many of the professional women who love Atlanta-based publisher Pink are helping its e-newsletter stay firmly in the black.
"We had been, historically, a magazine," Pink CEO Cynthia Good says. "And we also had launched Little Pink Book to reach the women in our audience, globally, via our e-note. We had a small [e-mail] firm we were working with, and we did that for about nine months or so. We were just frustrated, because there were a lot of problems in terms of the deliverability. Sometimes—and we lost clients over it, too—they wouldn't get an e-mail or they'd get more than one e-mail. And it became more and more important to us, that part of our business. It actually became our core business."
But that core business, clearly, needed an e-mail marketing makeover. So in the fall of 2009, Pink hired Indianapolis-based e-mail service provider Delivra. The improved system went live in January 2010 and, because of extensive list cleansing, Pink's e-mail deliverability rate now hovers between 98 and 99 percent. The accompanying increase in opens and clickthroughs especially benefits ad revenue for the firm's e-newsletter.
Target Marketing: What did Pink need to improve in its e-mail marketing program?
Cynthia Good: First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that Little Pink Book would be as useful as humanly possible to our busy, professional women readers. … So we wanted to make sure that the content they received from Pink was easy for them to access and was very reliable—that they always knew what they were going to receive, when they were going to receive it, what it would look like, how it would function, that they would be able to access it from their BlackBerry, from their iPhone, from their laptop. … We needed to improve deliverability. And we also wanted to make sure that, since our audience is very passionate about their work and their lives and they're highly engaged … we wanted to make sure they had a chance to really, effectively, engage with the resources … and our advertisers, frankly.
TM: How many e-mails go out, for what purpose and how often? How did this change as a result of this effort?
CG: We're sending out about … 80,000 a day. … and it's also varying now, day to day, because … some women don't really care about fashion in the boardroom. And so now, they have the chance not to get the Friday fashion piece. Some of our business owners just wanted the business owner, entrepreneurial content on Mondays. So now they have a choice. …
TM: How did Pink improve its e-mail marketing program?
CG: … It's a process. We look at the data. … For instance, we ran this great program with a woman-owned company, of course, called Initials Inc. And they make these cute little bags [on which] they put your personal initials. So we ran a big campaign with them, where we said, 'You know, if you share Little Pink Book with your friends and 10 sign up, you'll receive this gift.' And we instantly saw a dramatic increase in the number of subscribers. So we've done a gazillion things like that and continue to do them on a daily basis to improve it. … At the end of the day, I think what really works in our favor is just really focusing on delivering great content that is useful to the women in our audience. And then they keep sharing it. And then it becomes viral. … You just click the top of the page, 'Share With a Friend.' … One of the things that we're really excited about is just the overall health of our subscriber readership base is very, very strong. Initially we dropped in the number of audience size a little bit, which really scared me. But what happened was … the readers who we continue to have are much more engaged and active. … That's great for the advertisers and everybody else. …