Knowing Purpose and Keeping It Simple Help Email Daily Prosper

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Get the most important news in healthcare first thing in the morning, every morning for free!
—OR a.m. (from OR Manager, an Access Intelligence division) 

We read. You Skimm. Join millions of others.

To be daily, or not to be daily, that is often the question. It represents a big commitment but done right, can bring new engagement for a publisher. And big or small, there are best practices to follow.

Launched in October 2015, OR a.m. (a sample is pictured here) won a 2016 SIPAward for Best Marketing for a New Product. The e-newsletter proved a worthy transition from their weekly, which "didn't get too much engagement." It was initially meant to promote their free news briefs, using a platform that allowed them to link to outside news articles while still capturing traffic to their website. But it just wasn't catching on.

In May, I wrote a post with 15 lessons from the accelerated growth of theSkimm—a free email daily geared to women ages 22-34 that quickly picked up 3.5 million subscribers. Number one was to know your purpose. "The missing link for us was to fit into [our audience's] daily routines," said co-founder Danielle Weisberg. "So we started the company with email, not to create an email news company, but because that's what we did first thing in the morning; the alarm goes off on your phone, you grab it and you check email from friends and family first."

OR a.m. knew their purpose:

1.     To increase traffic to their free news briefs; and
2.     To attract paid "eLetter sponsorships."

Though OR a.m. and theSKimm could not be more different, they do share characteristics that contribute to their success. Both are designed simply. OR a.m. is a "simple snapshot of three important health care news stories of the day, sent at 5 a.m. every morning to nearly 40,000 health care executives." Both have "eye-catching" logos and short paragraphs, though OR a.m.'s link to longer articles while theSkimm's are self-contained. OR a.m. has a large "Share the Knowledge" button while theSkimm also has a prominent "SHARE THIS" button.

Today's Skimm starts out with a fun quote from a Paris official—something you can probably always count on—before moving into debate "coverage" titled SUPER-CALI-FRAGILISTIC-EXPI-BRAGGADOCIOUS. (I guess they believe young women know Mary Poppins.) It then breaks the evening down into about 10 sub-topics from The Economy to Tax Returns to Manners. No paragraph is more than four lines. It finishes with What to Say When Your Friend Says the Debate Ruined Her Night and Skimm Birthdays. Know your purpose.

OR a.m. later found that job listings from their own job board could bring more traffic and lead to a new pricing increase. Overall, following the daily's launch, their page views went up 41% and referral search rose 93%. The free news briefs account for 15% of all page views, and the OR a.m. eLetter accounts for 10% of that. "This means that 10% of all of our website traffic is coming from this simple daily eLetter." Not surprisingly, more sponsors are signing on for logo placement and a banner ad.

Other lessons from theSkimm included Solve a Problem (check), Think About Your Reader (check) and Have Ways to Monetize (double check). Weisberg said that their open rate averages 40% each day. "The question is, 'how do you grow and still make them love it each day?' One, have a voice that resonates [with your audience], and two, when people read skimm, they feel part of a community. They feel invested in our growth."

OR Manager can check that one off as well. It has three membership options including a free trial that lets you "ease" into it. OR a.m. showed that their audience did want a daily. That won't always be the case. But in this instance they had stated goals and followed a plan to meet them.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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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…