Email Subscription & Publishing Best Practices With Keith Sibson From Postup

Keith Sibson is VP of Product & Product Marketing at Postup, a leading email services provider and email marketing platform for digital publishers. As the only Email Services Provider (ESP) focused on the publishing and media industry, Postup’s products and experience are drawn from working with over 150 publisher clients, and on Audience Development specifically with more than 40.

Keith has over a decade of experience driving product-led growth at companies large and small.

State of Digital Publishing will be running an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, where Keith will be answering questions related to email publishing, subscriptions audience development using our live stream which will also be broadcasted on Twitter.

Here are the key areas of learning you can expect, as a result of attending:

  • Why more email subscribers and more emails sent always equals more revenue
  • The audience “monetization window” and the power of email to extend it
  • Active capture techniques consistently increase email subscription conversion rate by 10X (and we have the data to prove it)
  • Other audience development techniques to maximize the growth of your direct email audience.

This event will be taking place on the 31st October 2017 at 11 am New York Time. If you can’t attend and would still like to ask some questions, please enter them in the live steam section below, and the State of Digital Publishing team will make sure it is answered during Keith’s session.


AMA Recap Discussion

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): In the lead up to the AMA session, please leave your questions below.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): 5 minutes until we start the #email publishing #ama with @postupdigital!

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): We are now kicking off the #AMA. Firstly welcome, Keith 🙂

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Guys, quick housekeeping rules and we’ll get Keith started with responding to your questions. There are two panels 1) comments, 2) questions. To access this make sure you open the panel by clicking on the Foursquare icons. Then sign into Twitter and you’re on your way!

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Just until everyone else signs in, I’ve got a few questions from people that have sent me questions, but are unable to make it. Let’s start with a few of those.

Keith Sibson: Hello! Thanks for having me.

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Vahe Arabian (Moderator): First question, Keith, and it’s something we hear all the time – Isn’t email dead?

Keith Sibson: Not dead. In fact, more (legitimate) email than ever is being sent, it’s growing every year. Its role is changing though, and the young definitely don’t use it for p2p communication the way many of us did in the earlier days of the Internet.

Keith Sibson: Email is now about relationships with brands and service providers.

Keith Sibson: To quote Dela Quist, without an email address, on the Internet you’re effectively homeless.

Keith Sibson:  You can’t shop; book a hotel, bank; or log into Facebook or Twitter for that matter. Email is a fundamental part of how the Internet works; it’s not going away anytime soon.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Okay, great! Let’s jump straight to the agenda.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Addressing the first point, why do more email subscribers and more emails sent always equals more revenue?

Keith Sibson: Email is becoming more important to publishers, primarily because email is an entirely unique way to establish a direct relationship with the audience.

Keith Sibson: Facebook and Google are just traffic channels and they are publisher agnostic. They control what your audience sees and when. In a sense, the audience really belongs to Facebook and Google, and they compete for the same advertisers.

Keith Sibson: Email = revenue because it is impressions of click opportunities. And not just traffic to your site, but ads within the email.

Keith Sibson: Email is the only way to reach out to your audience directly to engage and retain them.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Got it.

Keith Sibson: Some people only want 1 email per day, but many will consume more if you send.

Keith Sibson: The trick is to give more to those that want more.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Keith, how do you find this out?

Keith Sibson: We build what we call category structured email programs for our clients.

Keith Sibson: So, if a publisher has 10 content categories say politics, entertainment, etc., then each one has its own newsletter, and the audience signs up selectively for the topics that interest them.

Keith Sibson: We have clients with subscribers that receive and engage with over 10 emails per day. These are the super-consumers, and they are 10X more valuable than the average user.

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Keith Sibson: The trick is active promotion of the category newsletters, on-site and within emails themselves (cross-promotion).

Keith Sibson: So, the focus is on newsletter subscriptions, not just subscribers.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): @postupdigital – does this lead to the ‘monetization window’?

Keith Sibson: For clients, we help with this, the average is 2.8 newsletter subscriptions per subscriber.

Keith Sibson: Monetization window is really a way to look at the lifetime value of a subscriber, actually a visitor.

Keith Sibson: A first time site visitor from Google averages less than 3 page views in their lifetime. But if you can get their email address, their value in terms of page views goes up exponentially.

Keith Sibson: With an invitation to the inbox, you can reach out and get them back. Otherwise, you’re just waiting for them to come back of their own volition.

Keith Sibson: With email, the time window to monetize them is essentially unlimited (or at least until they unsubscribe).

Keith Sibson: The key is asking for an email address in a way that doesn’t upset the user experience.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): So, the right email capture techniques are important here.

Keith Sibson: Realistically, you can only expect 1% conversion rate for “email capture”, but it 10-20Xs the value of that visitor.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): What data do you have to prove this?

Keith Sibson: Yes, email capture is the key. With our clients, we have a program called Audience Development, which maximizes email capture. The interesting thing about email capture is its consistency across publishers.

Keith Sibson: We know that “active” capture; say a slide-out or lightbox, consistently converts at 10X of inline form.

Keith Sibson: Now publishers see different conversion rates on signup CTAs: between 0.1% and 2%. But the performance increases from capture techniques are consistent.

Keith Sibson: So, an active slide-out CTA will collect 10X the emails of a static on-page form, regardless of initial conversion rate.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): That’s cool!

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): What are some other techniques?

Keith Sibson: Something that works very well is what we call “Category Specific Capture”.

Keith Sibson: So, if you have a visitor from Facebook, say, reading an article about home improvement, they get an optimized CTA.

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Keith Sibson: “Get the best tips for fixing up your house on a budget”, vs. “Sign up for our newsletter”.

Keith Sibson: It’s a form of personalization, where we know little about the visitor. We know they are interested in that content.

Keith Sibson: The reality is that most of the time, visitors from Facebook and Google don’t know where they are. They see something interesting and then click on it – it’s not about your brand as a publisher.

Keith Sibson: You have to give them a compelling offer, related to the reason they are on your site, to begin with.

Keith Sibson: Average page views per session for Facebook across our clients are 1.2. Google is 2.1, with repeat visitors 28%.

Keith Sibson: These are low-value visitors unlikely to come back, asking for an email is the most effective way to increase their value.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): So, what are the other audience development methods for increasing the value of your #audience?

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Personally, I think the future is in premium subscriptions, the advertising model (specifically programmatic) is broken.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): More people are getting into this so wouldn’t it be too competitive?

Keith Sibson: Too many publishers (millions!) chasing not enough advertiser demand.

Keith Sibson: For high-quality content, your audience will pay.

Keith Sibson: A premium subscriber paying $10/month is literally worth the same as 10,000 average Facebook visitors.

Keith Sibson: Ask yourself if you could convert 0.1% of your audience to $10/month. If you could, you will double your revenue.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): That’s a whole different conversation.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Hey, Keith, to conclude our chat what would be the one thing people should go and do today to improve the email audience development efforts?

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): The most critical thing.

Keith Sibson: Definitely active email capture on your site, not just a subscribe link or form, but active ad-like CTAs.

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Awesome takeaway!

Vahe Arabian (Moderator): Keith, it seems we’ve gone slightly over time. Thank you for joining us today and have a Happy Halloween 🙂

Keith Sibson: Thanks, Vahe, have a good one!

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