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Editor & Publisher - 2021-10-01

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Email is key to news publishers clawing back advertising dollars from social media

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

By Michael Shapiro Michael Shapiro is the founder and CEO of Tapinto.net, a network of 80+ franchised online local news sites in New Jersey, New York, and Florida. These sites often represent the only daily news source in their respective communities.

Email is key to news publishers clawing back advertising dollars fromsocialmedia Many news publishers are struggling to produce enough advertising dollars to be sustainable, with many now erecting paywalls or going the non-profit route to attempt to stay in business. However, publications would be wise to think about what advantages they can bring to a potential advertiser that social media cannot offer. One such tool is email. Any publisher who has stayed on top of things during the last five years should have already begun to amass readers' email addresses. Whether it be from a daily newsletter delivered to readers to requiring an email address to read the newspaper online to collecting email addresses via giveaways at local events, every news publisher in the country should have a substantial email list by now. If you do not, there is no time like the present to build one! With such an email list, you can offer dedicated emails for advertisers to your subscribers. This is an incredibly valuable marketing tool for a business and something that social media cannot provide. In addition to the email sent to people who have opted in to receive emails, these emails are sent by a trusted third party – your publication. And they're trackable! You can tell the client how many people opened the email and clicked on it to get more information. Dedicated emails are a great marketing tool for businesses ranging from private schools holding an open house to a new business having a grand opening to candidates running for election. Not only do they help news publishers compete against social media, but they also are a more effective marketing vehicle than mailers and can even outperform coupons. Limiting the number of dedicated emails sent per week is essential for a publisher looking to get into this space. Here at Tapinto, we limit it to only one dedicated email sent per week to not bombard readers. They are then more apt to open the email and do not unsubscribe. Realistically, a publisher can probably send 1-2 per week without suffering significant negative consequences to their subscription list. It is also important to use an email service provider that enables the emails to be tracked, so there is transparency and accountability for the advertiser. And of course, the email needs to look professional – sending out text-only emails or emails with graphics from the 1990s will not help your advertiser and will also not help your publishing brand. Email can help many news publishers better compete with social media for scarce advertising dollars. Publishers who are not seriously looking at email as a revenue stream should be. Those that are using it already as a revenue stream should look to improve upon it.

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