Email marketers are looking to grow and diversify their lists these days, and we’re seeing a rash of new newsletter launches across almost every industry, B2C and B2B.  Some of these launches are segmentation or interest-specific, others are around new brands and, in retail particularly, there has been a rise in “daily deal” programs – likely riding on the trend of sites like LivingSocial, Groupon, etc.  Are you thinking about starting up a new email newsletter or brand? Let’s look at some real-life examples and the best practices for pulling off a successful launch without turning off your existing subscriber base.

1.    Hook them with a sample issue.

Cooking.com has a new Celebrity Kitchen Bulletin, in addition to their regular Food for Thought recipe newsletter. They chose to send a sample issue of the new bulletin with a clear announcement that this was something new – in the subject line and preheader text, as well as a rebranding of the Food for Thought as “Celebrity Edition.”  It includes a prominent call-to-action to subscribe, and they can be confident that whoever subscribes is 1) highly engaged, 2) a foodie who watches food-related tv shows, and 3) a good candidate to receive celebrity cookware product promotions. As Emeril would say: Bam! Great new segment and revenue stream created.

2.    Advertise within your existing newsletter.

CVS/pharmacy has started up health e-newsletters, and recently has been devoting ad space (and occasionally subject line space - “$10 off $50 on CVS.com & Sign up for our Health Newsletters!”) in their regular promotions to call attention to these. As noted recently, I am seeing educational content out-convert promotional content often lately, so this is a great step to keep customers engaged with the CVS brand, and look to them as a trusted resource for health knowledge, as well as products. Another great example of an ad within a newsletter is Baltimore’s Urbanite Magazine, who recently launched 5 cool new e-zines, one for each day of the week across a myriad of topics. Check out their newsletter ad with its eye-catching copy.

3.    Be upfront.

L.L. Bean took the direct approach when launching their new brand, L.L. Bean Signature with a straightforward email campaign to existing subscribers. While I love the clear calls-to-action, I’d like to know more about what Signature really is, without having to click through. The description of a “closer fit, and contemporary styles” is not enough for me – does that mean regular L.L. Bean clothing is baggy and outmoded? Be wary of implicating that your original brand is inferior. And show me some pictures!

4.  Sponsor yourself.

Target has a Daily Deals email program now, and started off with a casual ad in their regular promotions – decent enough, though no real call-to-action besides an arrow. But then they did something I haven’t seen before – they used Daily Deals to “sponsor” their Back in Black Friday sale.  I love this idea, and it’s nicely presented in the subject line and at the top of the image. My concerns are around what precious inbox real estate they lost by using “Daily Deals presents…” in the front of the subject line, and why they didn’t promote Daily Deals subscriptions beyond just using the logo. There’s no mention of how to sign up, nor is there a call-to-action to do so – what a lost opportunity!

Key Takeaways:

  1. Be creative and clear. You want to stand out, and be clear about what’s new and how to get it.
  2. Respect your subscribers’ inboxes. I recommend sending any promotions that are dedicated to a new newsletter or brand no more than twice a year.  Sidebar ads are a great way to continuously get face time without devoting an entire email to promoting your new baby.
  3. Be familiar. Send from your traditional From Name and From Address, and make sure your content reflects that this is your original brand/publication promoting another one, so they don’t think they’re being spammed by the newbie and reach for the unsubscribe button.
  4. Mention it wherever you can. Add your new email program to your signup form, manage preferences page and welcome message/series to broaden exposure.
  5. Go beyond email. Use social media and banner ads to further promote the new launch.