Lagardere Active North America, a sister company to French magazine publisher Hachette Filipacchi Medias, is expanding its e-mail program in the United States for its Elle, Elle Girl, Car & Driver, Road & Track and Woman's Day titles.
The company is using e-mail services provider Topica Inc. to relaunch online newsletters for these publications over the next 90 days. Depending on the title, the newsletters will be published weekly, bimonthly or monthly.
“The e-newsletter program for the Hachette titles aims to drive traffic to the host title's Web site, to provide additional revenue through advertising and sponsorship, and to sell additional subscriptions to the offline titles,” said Anna Zornosa, president/CEO of Topica, San Francisco.
E-mail newsletters for Elle Girl went out in mid-June. Similar missives for Elle, Road & Track and Car & Driver go out in July. Woman's Day e-mail newsletters start dropping in September or October.
At launch, the online newsletters will serve 200,000 readers who visited the magazine Web sites and opted in to receive online updates and offers. The sites are Elle.com, Ellegirl.com, caranddriver.com, roadandtrack.com and womansday.com.
“What Hachette will be doing is driving new visitors to their Web sites and use the free e-mail newsletters to create a repeat relationship that can drive a subscription,” Zornosa said.
Nick Ricci, senior vice president of sales at Lagardere Active in New York, agreed.
“Online is an essential component in the company's overall circulation strategy, along with direct marketing and the other elements used to continue to grow our business,” he said.
“We will be continuing this dialogue to learn more about visitor needs [and] develop the customization and personalization tools that will allow for their maximum experience with the branded Web sites,” he said.
Lagardere Web site editors will design all newsletters and prepare editorial content. Topica will be responsible for newsletter delivery, reporting and managing the e-mail lists.
“Hachette will provide more insight but will comment on Topica's help in creating designs that encourage readers to subscribe to the magazine and in helping advise on how to get newsletters to be both opened and read in detail,” Zornosa said.
The Internet is an increasingly popular tool for publishers to bolster subscriptions to their print products.
According to the Intertec Planning and Research Survey 2001, 18 percent of new subscriptions for magazines were acquired online in 2001 versus 12 percent in 2000. Web-generated subscriptions were cheaper, too: $2.19 per name against $9.26 for direct mail.
Even renewal costs, at 84 cents for an e-mail, were cheaper online versus $2 for a cover wrap or $6.14 for direct mail. E-mail accounted for 7.8 percent of all renewals nationwide in 2001 versus 5.5 percent in 2000.
Topica relies on this enthusiasm for its claimed status as the nation's third-largest e-mail services provider. It delivers more than 1 billion online newsletters and discussion group messages a month.
Clients of the 4-year-old Topica include AOL Time Warner's People magazine, IDG Communications, CMP Publications, Vanguarde Inc.'s Savoy and Honey, and The National Geographic Society. In all, it serves more than 24 leading magazine titles.
Magazine fulfillment houses are also jumping onto the online bandwagon.
In May, Hearst Corp.'s wholly owned CDS fulfillment subsidiary in Des Moines, IA, launched a new online campaign tool for trimming publishers' mailing costs. Sending bills and renewals online can save a publisher more than 60 percent of the cost of churning out multiple mailings, according to CDS.
Clients now can log onto Gemini, CDS' Internet fulfillment system, for administering tools like online bills and renewals, and newsletters. Messages can be sent in text, HTML and other e-mail formats. Topica, which is connected to Gemini, will offer online lettershop services.
“I think it's essential,” Zornosa said. “It's very important for all titles, because at this point it's a proven fact that customers like to subscribe to magazines online and because the efficiencies of renewing them electronically are saving publishers literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The risk of not adapting to this medium is that they'll miss the opportunity to find new readers whose demographics match those of Web surfers,” she said.