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Jun 28, 2000
Case Study

How AIS, a Traditional For-Fee Publisher, is Profiting With Free Email Newsletters

SUMMARY: Learn how a traditional print publication can derive a healthy ancillary revenue stream from a print newsletter.

(P.S. MarketingSherpa's own team were impressed enough by this Case Study that we ended up hiring the cited marketer away from his company to work for us instead.)

Atlantic Information Services (AIS) has been publishing traditional, high priced ($300 and up) print newsletters and other publications focusing on business news for health care-related organizations for more than a decade. This winter they hired Internet marketer Jon Lowder and launched their first free email newsletter for the same marketplace in late February.


Lowder, a long-time newsletter marketing expert, pulled out all the in-house stops to promote the free newsletter, “We put inserts with print pubs; put the URL on EVERYTHING we send out; we promote to everyone we cover in the newsletters (Here's a copy of PUBNAME that has an article about your company….)” Lowder also encouraged readers to redistribute the newsletter under their own name, “we started a liberal, free custom publishing program where we ask people to re-send the newsletter to their own list and report to us how many they are sending it to, with an agreement to not change content other than adding a line that says "PUBNAME is being provided courtesy of COMPANY NAME" at the beginning and their own unsubscribe info at the end.”


“First email newsletter is up to 4,800 subs. Second is up to 2,800 and we just launched third. Sold first sponsorship (big $$$) and our site traffic is up over 300%. What a kick!" Lowder feels this success is in part due to, “killer content. I've worked for several publishers and I've never seen content this rich before.”


Lowder says, “Our initial goal was to drive traffic to the site. It's worked so now we are concentrating on revenue. Sponsorships are priced completely on what the market will bear, and honestly we're still figuring it out on a pub-by-pub basis. We're also looking at syndication, sponsor swaps, etc.”


Lowder has two recommendations for other publishers, “Develop products of very high quality, probably even more so than your print pubs. Why? Because competition is even more fierce. There is no barrier to entry for anyone with a good idea, great writing skills and a knack for marketing. In other words don't worry about your traditional competitors, worry about the star reporter on your staff who can buy a domain name, set up a free web site and start cranking out killer content from her own email client. And remember that your audience is time-starved and swamped with information. That means your stuff has to be the best out there or you’re history.

“My second recommendation is to ask your readers what they want. This is really important because we've found that our online readers are very different from our print readers. The best part is that our online readers are also very responsive to our queries. We did a survey that garnered a response rate of over 20% in just one day. And we didn't offer them anything other than an explanation as to why we were doing the survey. In print we'd be lucky to get a 5% response, and that with a
premium offer. So by all means ask them what they want and give it to them.”
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