Digital content campaign drives Sunday readership at Austin American-Statesman

By Neil Stout

As part of its ongoing effort to drive engagement and elicit higher satisfaction scores for the overall brand within the Austin, Texas area, the Austin American-Statesman launched its digital content messaging campaign in April 2013.

The goal of the ongoing campaign, according to Jeff Simecek, senior marketing manager for the Austin American-Statesman, is to enrich the lives of subscribers by delivering high-quality news and information across multiple digital platforms.

The ongoing weekly digital content messaging campaign uses e-mail marketing, social media, and digital display advertising to drive subscribers to a specific front-page story each Sunday.

“We engage with our readers and drive audience value through high-impact print and digital creative each week, reinforcing the Statesman’s editorial commitment to investigative journalism,” Simecek says. “RAM testing shows that ad recall remains consistently high and that the weekly e-mail campaign to subscribers and non-subscribers continues to drive significant page views.”

By choosing stories that are relevant to the interests and concerns of our subscribers, the digital content messaging campaign aims to elicit feelings of connection, engagement, and being “in the know.” The creative approach utilises strong, full-bleed imagery accompanied by a strong headline and subhead.

In addition to the editorial presentation, the campaign also utilises e-mail best practices such as:

  • Mobile-focused subject lines (with key phrasing in first 30 characters).

  • Alt text (to account for image blocking by some email provider).

  • Clear and high-contrast buttons to drive click-through.

This campaign has been an overwhelming success with the Austin market and continues to be a strong performer. It has steadily helped drive subscriber digital registrations, engagement, and over all digital performance metrics.

Key metrics and highlights include:

  • We sent 32 weekly e-mails to roughly 62,000 subscribers each week.

  • The e-mail had very strong performance with an average unique open rate of 26.2% and an average unique click-through rate of 2.7%.

  • In total, this campaign generated more than 250,000 unique page views to our premium content site, of which over 70,000 were to the specific content we featured.

  • We also saw tremendous engagement through social media. Each piece of featured content that we pushed through social media reached an average of nearly 100,000 unique Twitter users and 50,000 unique Facebook users with a 9% click or comment engagement rate on Facebook.

“The campaign continues to be a successful collaboration between editorial, marketing, and audience,” Simecek adds. “It’s one that we will use as a benchmark of success for all other initiatives in the future.”

About Neil Stout

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