Time Out

When it comes to what to do and where to go in your city, Time Out are the authority. At the heart of their global publishing network are magazines and websites, not to mention email newsletters featuring their weekly top picks. We sat down with Ridhika Naidoo, the Content Manager for Time Out Sydney and Shakeera Khan, Content Manager for Time Out Melbourne to find out how email compliments their overall strategy.

Hi Ridhika and Shakeera, The Time Out magazines have a big presence when it comes to covering the arts, cultural events, dining and more. What is it about email that makes it so complimentary to your magazines and website?

Our magazine is published monthly, so our weekly email is ideal for the more immediate task of helping people plan their weekends. Our website is updated every 20 minutes of each day, so equally important is our email's role in giving us a chance to cut down on the sheer volume of information and present our highlights.

Your campaigns seem to get consistently good results, with click rates hovering around 45-50%. What's your secret?

First, Time Out's editors are great writers and discerning about what we include on the site - we only list things that we think people do want to hear about. When we select items from the site to include on the newsletter, we select what we would want to do, what's trending and what's appealing to our audience. We keep a close eye on the click throughs from each newsletter and the most viewed content on the site.

The ease and obviousness of the reporting is one of the reasons that we chose Campaign Monitor - it is easy to see how an email has performed.

Time Out's newsletters are designed and created in-house - what are the advantages to taking a DIY approach to email marketing?

...we can design an email, send a test and schedule it within 4 minutes - no joke!Anyone should really be able to send their own emails, after some initial planning of what's needed, followed by a consideration of how their content management system (CMS) fits into their email marketing workflow. It's also worth putting some effort into designing email templates - you may need some outside help with this.

We adapted our CMS to output the chosen items and design for the newsletter to a URL which we import into Campaign Monitor - this means the emails are uniform, images are re-sized automatically and the various tags for social, unsubscribe and preferences are already included in the code. As a result, our email templates can be turned around in as little time as is possible. In fact, we can design an email, send a test and schedule it within 4 minutes - no joke!

Users with less budget and staff than us could easily use Campaign Monitor's RSS to email feature - it is not as adaptable as manually adding content via the email editor, but you can send a great looking email with no effort once you've set it up.

Finally, what is your advice to other content publishers who want to make the most of email marketing?

We're lucky as we have quite a few writers and photographers so we always have something interesting and unique to send out. Everyone should think about what their subscribers signed up for, what they want to hear about and how often they want to hear from them.

If you're not producing much content then don't send too often - quality beats quantity if you want people to sign up and stay signed up.

The RSS to email function is fantastic - use it to automate your sends if you can. Also, be unique - look at what others are doing but don't just copy them - find out what works for your users.

Many thanks to Ridhika, Shakeera and the Time Out Sydney and Time Out Melbourne teams for sharing their experiences with us. To subscribe to the newsletter for your city, visit their site.

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