For any media brand, your biggest competition to hook new holiday readers won’t be another network or news outlet. It’s all those holiday emails filling up your readers’ inboxes.
But don’t close the book on email until after New Year’s Day! Instead, check out these tactics that top retailers use to cut through the clutter, grab readers’ attention, and move engaged subscribers to act.
In other words, you can beat them at their own game. And if you keep reading, we can show you how.
As a media brand, email can connect your audience (and hopefully, a lot of new holiday readers) directly to your latest books, news stories, TV shows, streaming platforms, or subscription models. But a strategically designed newsletter can also move your audiences to your platform permanently—increasing their daily brand interaction and likelihood to buy.
So, instead of waiting for them to discover your content, use a well-timed, personalized email to nudge them into action.
A well-timed email can remind your new holiday readers when and why to tune in now instead of waiting to catch your shows later. Got breaking news? Share it fast in an email bulletin, and track individual engagement and responses to learn which content gets your audience excited.
You can even use the data you’ve collected directly from your readers or viewers to create highly personalized messages featuring dynamic content that looks as if you chose it just for them. This season, don’t be afraid to call on the power of email—and your audience’s propensity for checking their inboxes regularly—to stay in touch, to persuade them to engage with your emails, to reward them for viewing or reading your newest content, and to whip up excitement about new programs and whatever’s coming next.
Publishers will be among the most affected when Google’s plan to kill off third-party cookies in its Chrome browser goes into effect sometime in 2023 (or later if another delay happens). After all, every other browser is likely to emulate that move sooner or later.
Today, media brands are ramping up efforts to collect more first-party data before they’re forced to make any changes due to outside factors. And the email address is both a solid piece of first-party data by itself and the gateway to a reservoir of activity tied to it—from predicted future subscriber engagement levels to preference, interest, and behavior data tied to these unique digital identifiers.
Amidst all this email optimism, however, publishers share a data privacy concern with their retail compatriots.
They’re also figuring out how to grapple with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature in its iOS 15 update, which masks the open rate in an effort to block the kind of tracking email senders rely on for engagement. (Click here to learn more about these changes and make your email marketing evolution possible.)
Today, one important question remains unanswered: How can publishers create engaging content that helps them attract and retain audiences and stand out in busy inboxes? Our answer: Watch what top retailers do and see which three of the following tactics work best for your brand.
1. Automatically pull live web content into your email messages
The secret to email marketing success in media and publishing is efficiency. And one of the best timesavers you can implement is automatically sharing out the content you post on your website with targeted audience segments who are most interested in it—and therefore the most likely to engage with your emails as a result of this addition.
Your subscribers and hew holiday readers alike will see your news as it happens. Tempting them to click through for the full story on your website. You won’t have to wait for them to discover your content on their own ever again.
You could create dozens of individual email newsletters with bits and pieces of fresh web content—but if you’re in the news business, that’s like writing newspapers one by one or hand-crafting a news broadcast for each viewer. It just doesn’t scale.
And sending one-message-fits-all news updates to everyone in your audience will turn off people who aren’t into what you’re sending. Especially new holiday readers who can find similar content in thousands of other places with a simple Google search.
Dynamic content implemented directly into your email experience through real-time data feeds or web scraping tools is the best way to avoid leaving new holiday readers out in the cold feeling disengaged. By using subscriber or viewer behavior, preference, and interest data to select and load content into designated modules in your email template, you can identify any audience perfect for a targeted campaign and maximize their engagement level through highly relevant messaging.
Bonus 1: If you’re tracking breaking news, trending articles, score updates, or any other dynamic content on your site, your emails will automatically update every time your subscribers open the email with a live scraping tool or data feed’s support—no need to keep sending emails every time something changes.
Bonus 2: Add live video from your event right into new holiday readers’ email experiences. If your subscriber’s browser supports it, they can watch your interactive content right in their message. If not, they’ll see an optimized static image they can click to view on your website.
2. Season static content with 1:1 personalized material
Emails from top retailers often include a mix of general news, like sneak-preview sales announcements, with content based on individual subscriber data from previous web behavior, email activity, or submitted content preferences.
This tactic combines discovery—showing your subscribers something they might not find on their own —with personalized content. And together, these two forces create a feeling of serendipity. The personalization you can offer may not be as obvious as it would be in a transactional email, for example, but it definitely has a more relevant look, feel, and message than a generic news roundup.
You can see this serendipitous mix of static and dynamic content subtly at work in the Food Network’s Recipe of the Day daily email below. Look for modules of dynamic content based on the recipient’s browsing or download history sandwiched between layers of static content.
3. Turn new holiday readers into first-time attendees with live calendar reminders
Remember the old days when you had to park yourself in front of your TV at a specific time to watch the latest episode of “Survivor,” “Blue’s Clues” or “Seinfeld?” If you missed it, you were out of luck until the next broadcast.
Today, streaming and live content have just about destroyed this concept. While it’s good to give your audience viewing options, wouldn’t you like to send them a reminder to tune in at a specific time so they can see your shows roll out in real-time?
A live calendar element helps you build engagement for any exciting event: whether that’s a season-opening TV show, movie premiere, book launch, and or special educational webinar. And by making your invite as easy and engaging as possible to act upon, you increase the chances a new holiday reader becomes a first-time event attendee.
Retailers use calendar invites to remind customers about new-product launches, big sales, store openings and other can’t-miss events. Here’s how it looks in a new-collection drop-date announcement from Tommy Hilfiger:
This year, invite your viewers from the same email you inform them about a new event by introducing “Add to Calendar” buttons and links. That way, subscribers have a one-click process to register for any online experience that’s automatically updated to their calendar app of choice—so when the big day finally arrives, a reminder email can automatically be sent without building, updating, and sending any follow-up messages manually!
4. Count down to the season’s every can’t-miss event
A customized email countdown timer is one of the most versatile retail personalization elements you can use to inject real-time anticipation for any kind of topic, article, or newsworthy event. Use these simple-yet-sophisticated elements to build excitement before an event—or to let new holiday readers know how much time is left before their first invite expires.
On its own, this is a popular tactic among retailers to let customers know how much time they have to shop before a juicy offer ends. But for even greater impact, combine your email countdown timers with any of the dynamic personalization tactics we’ve already covered in this blog.
In this email, Disney combines video and a countdown time to promote its programming for International Friendship Day. Just imagine the urgency and FOMO you can add to any email experience with the simple addition of a timer.