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Digital marketing is vital for those in the small business and retail markets. It’s also crucial for those in other industries, including publishers. In fact, publishers like BuzzFeed, Reddit, and Rolling Stone all rock their publisher marketing strategies.
However, for newer publishers out there, building a publisher marketing strategy can seem a bit overwhelming. Read on to discover a few tips and tricks to help guide you along the way.

Publisher marketing in a digital world

When most consumers think of publishers, traditional books, magazines, and newspapers come to mind. Unfortunately, as our world continues to delve deeper into technology, the more traditional forms of publishing are quickly becoming outdated and irrelevant. They aren’t completely outdated, but more and more people are turning to the internet for their daily dose of news and other content.

In fact, more people under the age of 50 get their news from sources like news websites and social media than they do print media and TV.

Those under 50 years of age get the majority of their news from social media and news websites.

Source: Pew Research Center

With social media and websites taking priority over television, print, and even radio, it’s time that publishers start focusing their marketing efforts on more digital channels.

Digital marketing channels worth investigating for publishers

If you aim to reach those 50 and under, you want to focus your publisher marketing strategy on digital channels. However, choosing the right digital channels for your brand’s needs can be a bit tricky. Based on Pew Research Center’s studies, it might seem as though websites and social media are channels worth prioritizing. However, that research leaves out one very vital channel: email marketing.

Social media sites such as Facebook are great for sharing news stories; however, not everyone wants to spend the necessary time scrolling through their feed for the latest news. In fact, social media can be a pain to navigate, as algorithms tend to prioritize the most popular stories, which don’t always cater to each reader.

Social media news stories tend to be prioritized based on comments and likes, not actual clicks and reads.

Source: ABC 7 Chicago/Facebook

That’s not to say that publishers should avoid social media. Instead, they should ensure that their publisher marketing strategy utilizes multiple digital channels, including both social media and email marketing.

For example, The Wall Street Journal caters to their myriad of readers by making good use of both social media and email marketing. On their social media pages, they focus on trending stories, while their email marketing efforts take on a newsletter format to share the latest and greatest with their email subscribers.

Publishers can use email marketing to share both original and curated content with their readers.

Source: Milled

Ultimately, you’ll want to ensure that you’re using multiple channels to keep your engagement up and your readers interested, so take the time to get to know your audience. Once you’ve found out where it is that they hang out the most, the easier it’ll be to choose the right digital channel to focus your publisher marketing strategy on.

6 publisher marketing strategy tips and tricks worth noting

Out of all digital marketing channels, email marketing has the overall highest ROI, and most consumers prefer this channel to social media when it comes to receiving their news and other marketing material.

1. Curated content is your friend.

When it comes to sharing and publishing material for your readers, the common misconception is that what you share must be 100% original. While originality is vital to establishing your brand credibility and authority, sharing curated content from other reputable sources is a vital piece of that puzzle.
Take this example from Vox:

Source: Milled

Vox is an online publisher known for its news aggregation. While they can and do share original content regularly, in the example above, the majority of the content is curated from other reputable news sources, such as:

  • CNN
  • ABC News
  • The Wall Street Journal and more

Why would a publisher want to focus so much of their attention on other publishers? To help build brand credibility and trust between them and their readers. A lot of news aggregations are pulling trending stories and writing material that’s common knowledge. That means that the writer doesn’t have to be personally involved with a story or event to write on it. So, to build a trusting relationship with their readers and ensure them that they aren’t being fed a line of lies, they must prove that they’re getting their information from reputable sources.

Proper news aggregators don’t publish lies to their readers, and sharing curated stories from other publishers is the best way to prove that they know what’s legitimate and what isn’t.

2. Utilize split CTAs.

While more traditional marketing methods focus on funneling all of your readers through a single CTA, publishers can utilize split CTAs to help engage more readers at one time.

Utilizing split CTAs is simply the practice of using more than one call to action that directs readers to various articles, podcasts, or product pages. Publishers can utilize this practice to direct their readers to topics that capture their interest.

For example, in this email newsletter from BuzzFeed DIY, users have the options to check out the article on cheap, easy DIYs to home improvement or creative ways to upgrade their outdoor space. While these articles both cater to the need of upgrading a home, one is focused on indoor spaces, and one is outdoor spaces. That means someone in the northwest of the US preparing for fall can focus on the easy DIY practices while someone on the west coast in the fall can focus on the outdoor space.

 Increase overall engagement by utilizing split CTAs.

Source: Campaign Monitor 

3. Drip campaigns work.

Drip campaigns should be considered an essential part of a publishing marketing email strategy because they help your brand stay in constant contact with your audience. Drip campaigns come in several different forms, including:

  • Welcome campaigns
  • Re-engagement campaigns
  • Online courses and more

These campaigns are simply a series of automated emails that are sent out either based on specific triggers or scheduled according to a defined customer journey. In publisher marketing, one way to utilize drip campaigns is to set up a cover reveal campaign for a new book or a campaign surrounding the release of a new book in a popular series.

An excellent example of using a drip campaign in publisher marketing is this email announcement from Penguin Random House publishing.

New book announcements make for great drip campaigns for publishers.

Source: Milled

In this campaign, the publishing company is focusing their attention on the latest pick for Oprah’s Book Club. Oprah recommends books regularly, making this an excellent topic for a drip campaign to send out to Random House’s emailing list.

4. Segment your email lists.

As with any other email marketing strategy, email list segmentation is a crucial step in making sure that your readers are getting only the most relevant content from your brand. While traditional list segmentation categories such as gender, location, and interests are still relevant for publisher marketing, you want to make sure you’re giving your readers every opportunity to supply you with relevant segmentation categories.

Random House does a great job of collecting relevant subscriber data to ensure that they’re delivering only the most relevant content to their subscribers through the use of their email preference center.

Email preference centers allow you to get to know your readers on a whole new level.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Note how each of these segmentation categories goes beyond traditional marketing categories. Now, if you’re a news publisher, relevant segmentation categories may look more like:

  • Geo-location
  • Politics
  • Evergreen
  • Sports
  • Crime
  • Education
  • World news
  • Technology and more

5. Focus on your mobile subscribers.

Publishers know just how essential mobile subscribers are, especially if they’re working in the news or creative writing industries. As more users switch away from traditional print material such as books and newspapers, the focus is turned to mobile magazines, eBooks, and more.

That means focusing on mobile design, and that’s especially true when it comes to your email marketing materials. With more than half of worldwide emails being opened on mobile devices, the focus needs to be on catching the reader’s attention and getting them to open your messages. This isn’t easy, especially given the ever-shrinking character and word counts that are made visible on mobile devices.

That means making the most of your email subject lines and preheader text. This example from VJ Books grabs the reader’s attention immediately:

Subject line: NEW Fall Book Sale starts TODAY: Save 30% with coupon inside!

Capture the reader’s attention by sending segmented/relevant content to their inboxes.

Source: Milled

Once the reader has opened the message, they’re easily guided through a selection of books to a CTA that’ll take them directly to the sale that interested them in the first place.

In this case, the publisher made use of the reverse pyramid design to help guide the reader from the top of the message to the CTA. Also, note that the design doesn’t use a lot of excessive text. Instead, they make good use of images to help the reader scan through the possible sale options. If they see something they like, then they’re more likely to click on the CTA to browse through the more significant sales collection.

6. Test, test, and re-test.

Finally, your marketing team will want to make sure that your publisher’s marketing strategy includes regular testing. Taking the time to set up email campaigns that entice your readers to take action and visit your content takes a lot of time and resources. The only way to know if your efforts have paid off is to monitor your campaigns.

By taking the time to send out test samples of your emails before sending them to your entire list, you’re more likely to find what works best with your readers before wasting your time in the creation process to simply have no opens or conversions.

Utilize A/B testing to help you determine what content and design aspects sit well with your email subscribers.

 A/B testing is the only way to know what your subscribers will react best to.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Wrap up

Creating a publisher marketing strategy isn’t all that different from traditional marketing strategies. The key difference is knowing your audience and what they’re looking for. When working on your publisher marketing strategy, keep these 6 tips in mind:

  • Curated content is your friend
  • Utilize split CTAs
  • Drip campaigns work
  • Segment your email lists
  • Focus on your mobile subscribers
  • Test, test, and re-test

Want to dive deeper into publisher marketing? Then check out our handy guide on everything you need to know about publisher marketing in today’s digital age.

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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