News Alert Email Strategy
2024 Finalist

News Alert Email Strategy

The Dallas Morning News

United States

Category Product Development

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Existing product: Our general Breaking News email alerts serving over 500K readers across North Texas metrically proved to provide the biggest pageview-bang-for-the-buck as it highlights the news story you need to know, right now. The sense of urgency to click into the story and go to the site for a wide variety of news captures the attention of both non-subscribers and subscribers alike.

Need for upgrading/creating a new product: With the general Breaking News email alerts, we identified that within the entire audience, there were buckets of readers (non-subscribers and subscribers) that interacted with those alerts only for verticals they cared about. (Measured CTR and CTOR data). We identified the type of content that matched the buckets of high vertical-only readers. Those topics/verticals were: Politics, weather, health, business, sports, opinion, food, and crime.

The strategy and functionality: We created 7 smaller-scale versions of a "breaking news" alert for topics that readers who only or highly engage with that content would feel the sense of urgency for the one story highlighted in the alert and click to read more. Our goal was to have an above-industry standard open rate (25%) and acquire at least 1,000 pageviews per send and increase the cadence if we met our goal. 

Departments involved: My team, Audience Development on the business side, worked with the audience team in the newsroom, responsible for sending our general Breaking News alerts, and worked on sending the topic-based news alerts into their workflow. We designated rules around cadence, the type of stories that met the threshold for a highlighted send, and who the audience segments were. To launch this series, it took ~two weeks' worth of preparation from template building and audience segmentation to working it into on and off-platform teams within the Audience Team. We also worked with each vertical to determine if there were enough resources so that the reporters could send the alerts themselves as needed.


Results for this campaign

The topic-email alerts strategy's results are measured from May - Dec. 2023.

In total, the 7 news alerts produced 1,044,843 pageviews to different verticals of the site. Each email alert's average open rate ranged from 38.7% to 51%, the average number of alerts sent for each topic was 63 emails, the average CTOR was 4.4%, and the average opt-out rate was 0.03%.

This strategy's success story can certainly be attributed to surpassing metrics goals by miles given today's newsletter climate across publications similar to the DMN's market share. The 1M pageviews captured helped our newsletter's % of total traffic to increase to the top 3 referrer source of all traffic and helped move the needle for subscriber referrer traffic from newsletters to become the #1 avenue to get to the site even above search and direct. But with that being said, we can also attribute success to ideas like this that have a low investment and high return. 

Working in an additional, yet under 5 minutes worth of time it takes to send an email alert, into the audience team's workflow, provided an added benefit to newsletter readers that has a huge qualitative return: Building trust with our readers. Knowing they can count on us for the news they choose to be sent to their inboxes with real-in-the-moment updates that they don't have to wait to read in their weekly newsletters. They can find part two of that story there instead. 


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