Birthday Club Drives 40% Open Rate & $15K Annual Revenue

by Joe Moore Aberdeen News Company

2018 Second Street Award – Best Birthday Email Winner

Case Study Highlights

  • $15,000 in revenue for paper
  • 40% email open-rate
  • Leveraged current database of subscribers

The Idea

The Aberdeen American News, a 9,000 daily circulation paper in Aberdeen, SD, is always looking for new ways to build our brand’s relationship with our readers and drive revenue for our paper. After reading about other’s success stories, we had the idea to create our own email birthday club.

The Execution

When we started building our birthday club, we had to figure out a few logistics. First, what goes in the email? While we knew a simple birthday message would be nice, a message including a few coupons or special offers would be a real birthday treat.

This meant we needed to figure out our sponsorships. We pitched this as an evergreen program that would put advertisers in front of our audience month after month. Our database also has a higher percentage of female readers, which we knew would be appealing to many potential sponsors.

Right away we were able to lock in nine sponsors including restaurants, salons, craft stores, and even a national fast food chain. Each sponsor was given the opportunity to include a coupon or offer within the email to drive foot traffic to their business.

We wanted to make sure our readers weren’t seeing a lot of the same coupon or offer. Our sales rep helped the businesses create a clever, unique coupon just for them. For some this meant a free meal with a party of four or $5 of free play at the casino. One of our craft stores even offered users discounts based on how old they were – 27% off on your 27th birthday.

Writing the email is only half the battle – we still needed a list to send to. We had already been collecting opt-ins and birthdate on most of our contests and promotions, so this gave us a huge head start. But we also wanted a more dedicated effort to grow this specific list.

We sent an email to our full database announcing our new birthday club and encouraging our readers to sign up to receive free offers on their birthday. To ensure we were getting the most opens, we A/B tested three different subject line and preheader text combinations to make sure we were using the most favorable one.

In addition to email, we also collect opt-ins and birthdates on our other contests and promotions. Plus, we post about the birthday club frequently on social media – this is a great way to convert our followers to our database.

As the popularity of our birthday email has grown, sponsorships have become even more attractive to our local advertisers. We’ve now incorporated a clear place for advertisers to reach out to us for sponsorship information within the sign-up form of our birthday club.

The Results

The birthday club has been a win, win, win for our paper, our advertisers, and our audience. With multiple sponsorships, we’re currently bringing in $15,000 a year in revenue. The birthday email is also consistently driving a 40% open rate and making a great re-engagement campaign for some of our inactive subscribers. We can’t wait to see how this grows!

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