From paper to digital: National Instruments 'Digital Instrumentation' newsletter strategy

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How are you reaching more valuable and traceable targets for your communications? That is the fundamental question behind the new digital version of the National Instruments 32-page print publication, Instrumentation Newsletter (INL). National Instruments created INL in 1989 to keep its customers updated on new products, technology trends, and customer use cases on a quarterly basis in the test and measurement field.

The National Instruments Italy print INL recipient base consists of two main segments: subscribers and recent customers, totaling approximately 3,000 units. Because e-mail marketing is quickly overcoming in efficiency the more traditional communications tools like paper, we decided to follow this “digital revolution” and improve the process by promoting a new digital INL subscription.

The first step was giving our current INL subscribers a reason to move from paper to digital. We sent out a first promotional e-mail, asked subscribers to renew their subscription, and presented them the new digital format (a PDF of the publication). The main goal of the e-mail was to showcase the advantages of switching from paper to digital: having the well-known completeness of National Instruments information on a greener, less expensive, and easier-to-handle format that was always available in the inbox and shipped on time via e-mail every quarter. Subscribing was simple. By clicking on a link, the contact was driven to the subscription page on our Web site. Just a couple of clicks to get the new subscription increased the probability of contacts following through. We also left the possibility to renew their current print INL subscription. The second step was to broaden our target list, so we “spread the word” among our customers who we thought would be interested, according to our direct marketing interest segmentation.

The results were surprising: high open rates and clickthrough rates as well as feedback from people who really appreciated the new format. The new total list (old subscribers switching from paper to digital plus new subscribers to the digital format) nearly reached the 3,000 units as before, but it is now aligned with the most important e-mail marketing paradigms – a huge number of names does not make a contact list automatically “profitable.” The better solution is working and communicating with truly valuable targets who are explicitly interested in us. And what is the best way to know if our contacts are interested? By asking, obviously!

Furthermore, moving from paper to digital allowed us to make our newsletter traceable (through our e-mail marketing software). Keeping the opens and the clicks of our contacts under control is useful for short- and long-term strategies. Our strategy is also influencing other National Instruments branch offices, including our corporate headquarters in the U.S., thereby reaching hundreds of thousands of contacts worldwide.

Any doubts on why digital is better than paper?

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