The rise in online consumption has shaped the publishing industry we experience today. Readers demand high-quality free content at the click of a button, prefer breaking news rather than reading about it the following morning, and don’t like to navigate from their inbox to consume it.

This expectation, contrasted with declining print circulations, and privacy legislation that has tightened the laws surrounding how publishers grow their marketing lists, has created new challenges in an already saturated vertical. However, for those publishers prepared to shift to a fully-fledged digital strategy this is a time of opportunity, and French newspaper Le Journal du dimanche (JDD) did just that. 

Breaking with tradition

JDD decided to usher in a new era of publishing by building a digital edition of its periodical that would be emailed directly to subscribers. However, rather than the quintessential e-newsletter format, consisting of some top stories, a dash of clickbait, sponsored posts and links to its website, JDD decided to break with tradition. 

To differentiate themselves from its competitors, JDD created a full digital edition of its newspaper, in PDF format that could be read in its entirety within the reader’s inbox, online or offline. 

The plan

To maximize the most from JDD’s shift in strategy, they quickly identified the need for a three-pronged approach:

  • Rapidly grow the number of subscribers in its marketing list
  • Use a messaging platform to reach its audience 
  • Achieve high open rates complemented by low unsubscribe rates

Grow Marketing Database

At the time of launch, JDD’s database sat at a respectable 3,000, but they promptly determined that they would need to grow this list exponentially to deliver ROI. They set an ambitious target of growing the subscriber list to 50,000 in the first six months. 

To execute this, JDD offered a combination of engaging interactive experiences in the form of questionnaires as well as enticing value exchanges for subscriptions, including unlocking gated content. These tactics helped grow the database of subscribers, and comfortably surpass their target.

Subscriptions increased from 3,000 to 82,000 (2,600% increase) in just 6 months

64%  Surpassed subscriber goal by 64% 

Connect With Its Audience Through Messaging

The key to creating reader loyalty is simple, connect with readers by sharing valuable content and deliver it in such a way that it’s easy to engage with. 

E-newsletters are typically built as a vehicle to take readers through to the website — the goal is to get readers out of the email. By putting their full editions within the email, JDD signaled to readers that their preferences mattered. Instead of chasing after clicks to the website, the newspaper created a better user experience for readers, placing email content above website metrics. JDD leveraged Cheetah Digital’s Cheetah Messaging to execute this — sending high-quality digital editions right to readers’ inboxes.

“Cheetah Digital is very fast, only takes a few minutes each evening.” — Cyril Petit, Deputy Editor, Le Journal du Dimanche 

Increase Open Rates, Reduce Attrition

Today’s consumers are bombarded with hundreds of emails each day. Marketers need to find ways to stand out in the inbox and rise above the noise. The first task is getting emails opened. 

JDD tested the time of day they send emails (23:45), subject line length, subject line content as well as the pre-header. By testing, and optimizing these they continued to see increases in open rates as their subscriber list grew. In addition, the unique, digital newspaper layout of the email made the content easily readable and helped keep the unsubscribe rate below the vertical average. 

30% average open rate.

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