B2B Newsletter Shows Repurposing and Weekends Can Draw Opens

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“Everybody’s working on the weekend.”

That wasn’t quite how Loverboy sang it in—wow—1981, but it was the overriding chorus of SIIA’s Digital Media Committee last week after hearing of the Saturday-morning-delivery success of a new B2B e-newsletter. The presentation—available here on YouTube—was delivered by Julia Caruso, research and database analyst for Watt Global Media.

“Newsletters are huge traffic drivers for us,” said Caruso (pictured here). “Pet Food Industry News was already one of our top traffic sources, so the audience and marketing teams decided to create a new newsletter called Trending Topics.”

They opted to go with a weekly round-up newsletter of the top-performing content from the previous week—designed in a mobile-friendly format. “That’s so important these days,” Caruso said. Because the content is all repurposed, it puts no further workload on editorial. Content is populated using an RSS feed.

“We knew we wanted to send it on the weekend,” said Caruso. “We tried both Saturday and Sunday, and decided to go with Saturday morning—probably just because it’s closest to the previous week. There really wasn’t much difference in open rates.”

Trending Topics has doubled their normal newsletter engagement, adding 25,000 more sessions. Caruso said they had been optimistic given that 52% of their newsletter opens were from mobile. Doing well with Saturday and Sunday delivery was echoed by other people on the call—even to the point of surpassing a weekday. (“Because we never stop working,” someone joked.) Some cautioned that there might be a lower volume of readers, but engagement would be higher.

“What’s a weekend?” asked one committee member. “Interestingly, we see a spike in our B2B traffic between 9-11 am on Saturday and Sunday—decision makers never rest!” Seeing this with B2C sites would be expected, but that it’s for B2B has lifted a few eyebrows.

The success of Trending Topics prompted other ideas and eventually another newsletter called Market Focus. It’s more of a topical newsletter than a top-stories one. Watt uses the same process with an RSS feed, but this newsletter is owned by their content division. As an opt-in newsletter, it’s also a different model than Trending Topics. Market Focus has been equally successful, so that sessions have now tripled overall.

“We’re just starting to sell ads [for Trending Topics],” said Caruso. “Actually we’re going with one sponsor a month so we can keep the automation. We weren’t sure what to expect—[we thought] if it performs well, we can use it to generate revenue. So now we’re working with the sales team to get the sponsorship model set up.”

The content people are very happy about the extra website traffic. The distribution for Trending Topics has been in three segments—subscribers to the original e-newsletter, website registrants and everyone else. The idea was to see how each group engaged with the new product. Would using previously published content affect engagement?

Surprisingly, Caruso said, the highest open rates on the newsletters are coming from that first group—people who receive the original newsletter. “We believe it means that they are deepening their engagement with our content,” she said. “The bottom line is that it has have given us significant results [and new testing opportunities] with minimum impact on workflow.”

Again, the presentation can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…