Getting serious about e-mail marketing

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The responsibility of circulators is rapidly expanding beyond the traditional bounds of selling print magazines by subscription and on the newsstand. One of the new areas of opportunity for many of the magazines we work with is e-mail marketing. This is an area in which many magazines could get much more sophisticated.

First of all, publishers need to work out a strategy to get new e-mail names in addition to capturing e-mails from people who order subscriptions from a Web site or through an order form. One way to do this is to require registration for viewing content on a magazine's Web site. Another is to offer a special report that can be e-mailed to readers. Yet another is for publishers to run a sweepstakes and require an e-mail address to enter. In addition, magazines can pick up some incremental e-mail addresses by working with a company to do an overlay against their current database of land names and addresses.

Any e-mails a publisher captures that are already print subscribers can be added to the fulfillment database. Then, publishers should develop an e-mail renewal series. We usually do at least three efforts for our clients in addition to the mailed efforts. We like to send a first e-mail effort prior to any mailed efforts to try to skim off the easy renewals and save the expense of printing and postage on mailed efforts.

Any e-mail names captured on a magazine's site that are not already subscribers should receive an e-mail series pushing them to subscribe. We have also found that these consumers respond very well to direct mail promotion. All names should be promoted at holiday time to give gift subscriptions.

In addition to selling print subscriptions, e-mail addresses can be monetized in several other ways. You can put them on the market for list rental. You can sell sponsored e-mail blasts to your advertisers or use them for added value for buying print advertising. You can sell other products that your company may offer, such as books, special reports, calendars or merchandise. E-mail addresses can be used for fundraising too, if that is appropriate for your organization.

E-mail marketing is a good way to generate some incremental subscriptions at a very favorable cost and generate some incremental profits as well by selling other products. Make a new year's resolution to get serious about your e-mail marketing in 2009.

Greg Wolfe is president of Circulation Specialists Inc., an outsource provider of circulation management services. Reach him at gwolfe@circulationspecialists.com.

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