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Relevancy Wins Big in E-mail

  |  October 12, 2009   |  Comments

If you stopped distributing your e-mail newsletter, would your subscribers demand its return? Dow Jones Digital Media Daily's subscribers did.

Every day, I'm fortunate to have the chance to speak to a good number of people about digital media. Every once in a while, I have an inspirational conversation. This week's column shares a recent conversation I had with Jeff Bruce from Dow Jones about his e-mail program. It has made an impact on the industry and reminds us that relevant content and a connection with your consumers can help your efforts beat the odds. Thanks Jeff!

A few years ago Jeff's team at Dow Jones created a product that aggregated news in various niche industries. After being impressed with its quality the collection's output, Jeff decided to practice what his group preached and create an aggregated news collection for the digital media space. When it came time to share his collection with others, he opted for e-mail!

Jeff called his e-mail the "Dow Jones Digital Media Daily." It was sent initially to trusted colleagues and partners. There was no marketing, no promotional spend. It was just one man's passion-driven niche e-mail for the digital media space.

The DMD email's design is simple but powerful. An HTML formatted e-mail with a content list at the top, anchor tagged to the article. Links take you to other sites where you can get more information on the topic. In the back of Jeff's mind, he was hoping that his e-mail would not only help people stay up to speed on the digital media news, but would also demonstrate the types of content and services his team at Dow Jones could provide (and do a bit of lead gen).

As an avid fan of many B2B (define) news e-mails, a colleague of mine suggested I read DMD and I was immediately hooked. The content's brevity and clarity stood out. I found myself scanning the content list for items I was most interested in first, but immersing myself in the rest of the content right after. Because the collection of content was captured in short snippets I could feel "smart" about new news in just seconds. And after all, who has more than a few seconds these days?

A few months after I subscribed, I received this intro in the top of my daily e-mail and was very sad:

    Please be advised that this is the last week we will be distributing the Dow Jones Digital Media Daily.

    If you are interested in licensing real-time news events like these or other company and executive content for your publishing services, please contact me directly at jeff.bruce@dowjones.com.

    I hope you enjoyed this industry news service.

    Jeff Bruce

I started asking questions like: What was happening to my quick and convenient daily news infusion? How would I be able to get such a nice cohesive collection? And then my e-mail mind kicked in and I started asking, What the heck is going on that Dow Jones can't afford to produce a daily e-mail? Is the news industry really dying? Is this the beginning of the end for e-mail newsletters?

I e-mailed Jeff. Apparently so did many others. A few days later, I received this DMD e-mail:

    Thanks for the overwhelming positive feedback on the value of the Dow Jones Digital Media Daily. While we can't continue the service on a daily basis, due to popular demand, I'm pleased to inform you that the DJ DMD will return next Tuesday as the Dow Jones Weekly Digital Roundup.

    I hope you continue to enjoy this free industry news service which will utilize the same real-time news processing and concise format as before.

    Jeff Bruce

Last week, I had the chance to speak to Jeff about what had happened with the newsletter. His comments were so genuine and inspiring that I wanted to share them with all of the true e-mail ambassadors out there.

Jeff said that the time required to create such a comprehensive daily product had to be weighed against other efforts. He was unaware of the impact his e-mail had until he sent the e-mail advising of the shutdown. He was delighted with the feedback and demand to continue to produce the e-mail. He is thrilled he can keep it alive in a weekly format.

I love this story. It demonstrates that content connection with your customers can win out over almost anything else. Relevancy wins! This story makes you want to take one step back and look at your e-mails. Are they really making a compelling connection with your readers? Do they value your content so much that if you told them you wouldn't be communicating with them anymore, they would demand you not stop? If not, you might want to shoot an e-mail to Jeff Bruce to find out how to instill that magical connection into your messaging strategy.

To see the DMD e-mail, please visit the Email Experience Council blog. To subscribe send an e-mail to: digitalmedia@dowjones.com.

Thanks Jeff for inspiring us all! Keep up the good work.


Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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