Quintupling the Number of Newsletter Recipients Within a Year
Overview of this campaign
At the end of 2019 newsletter was not a strategic topic at Funke Mediengruppe. All in all newspaper newsletters from Funke Mediengruppe reached 50.000 subscribers. Newsletters were partly automatically generated, partly laboriously hand-knitted newsletters that could not be adapted due to cumbersome tools.
Looking at publishers from scandinavia and US we learned that newsletter may be much more important: Seattle Times reported that newsletter subscribers are 25x likely to convert to paying customers than facebook referrals. Condé Nast idetified newsletter-subscription as the No. 1 indicator of willingness to pay for content.
Based on that Funke Mediengruppe decided to set up a dedicated newsletter team with editorial ressource and marketing budget to push newsletter subscriptions fo Funke’s local newspapers, e.g. WAZ, Hamburger Abendblatt, Berliner Morgenpost, Thüringer Allgemeine and Braunschweiger Zeitung.
The newsletter team defined the following goals for 2020: Grow newsletter subscriptions for all Funke newsletters from 54.079 (DEZ 19) to 256.938 subscribers (DEZ 20) by standardizing tools and templates, by optimizing all touchpoints on our websites, by developing and launching new formats, by monitoring and optimizing our delivery rates, by integrating all editorial teams and all Funke ressources that might be helpful to achieve the goals, by thorough analysis and finally by providing transparent goal communication and establishing a blameless learning culture.
From the first day the newsletter unit decided not to push newsletters for their own sake but as a high quality newsletter product that serves as a window to the paid product, binds readers to the brand and ultimately convinces them to enter into a relationship as a paying subscriber with the brand. So analytics was always a big part of all newsletter efforts and it was clear that newsletter as a product had to prove that it is a valuable part of the customer journey that leads to more paid content subscribers.
Results for this campaign
In January 2020 we set up a newsletter strategy. After sharing this strategy with Funke’s executive managers we established a roundtable with Funke’s editors and marketing managers and added chat groups to create reliable communication structures and provide transparency.
Our editorial plan focused on optimizing existing editorial formats and establishing new formats. After data analysis we decided to invest into regional newsletters, family newsletters, a political US Newsletter and the newsletter format “Good Week” that combats negative corona consequences by offering positive stories. We started about 50 new newsletters in 2020.
Product management established tool trainings and support for all editors, integrated inline registration forms in articles and enabled amp registration forms. We set up welcome mail cycles, optimized open and delivery rates and repeatedly started debouncing activities. Analytics proved that newsletter subscribers convert with a higher probability into paid subscription and that paid subscribers with newsletter subscriptions stay longer in the subscription.
Our marketing strategy didn't just rely on the marketing budget, but mapped the entire customer journey. We integrated touchpoints in the navigation, optimized landingpages for better Google rankings, implemented banners into our reach websites for owned media advantages and managed marketing campaigns according to quality kpis. We learned that stopping campaigns is highly important - during first corona lockdown we started with low CPLs (0,25 EUR) and saw rapidly climbing numbers that needed quick reactions.
About 20% of our newsletter subscriptions have been generated via marketing with a double-opt-in CPL below 3 EUR.
Starting from 54.079 subscribers in december 2019 we reached 254.242 newsletter subscribers at the end of 2020, thus quintupling our numbers. Our open rates improved from 41.02% (december 2019) to 47.91% (average 2020). 4-6% of newsletter subscribers convert into paid subscribers after six months and readers with newsletter subscription are around 40-60% longer in the paid subscription than readers without. So not only our newsletter subscription numbers raised significantly but we also see strong impact on paid content business.