I have got some good news for the depressed publishers around the world. Try a newsletter, there’s nothing to lose — you’ll most likely attract subscribers to your media.
Think, paying subscribers! And with relatively little effort! This was the message the Star Tribune editors told us.
Newsletter have been on trend before. For example Politico started sending them already about a decade ago.
At the moment, Star Tribune has around 50, 000 “digital only” subscribers, and 8 million unique visitors online each month. Most of the visitors just pop in and leave the page, and arrive via Facebook. Then come “test drivers,” and almost-subscribers.
In order to get the curious to open their wallets, Star Tribune offers a wide selection of newsletters. At their Member Center (rather difficult to find online!) one can sign up to, for example, a handful of daily news updates, regional news and can subscribe to customized letters about their favorite sports team.
A view from the Star Tribune newsroom.
Sports play an important role here. Thanks to it, Star Tribune has managed to gather a relatively large online public of 35- to 45-year-old male readers. Very well done for one of the mainstream media, in particular if you compare that to public service media in the Twin Cities. An average listener at MPR is in her/his 60s, for instance.
Today, on a Friday morning, the news update consisted of five national topics, with Hurricane Irma on top, and a selection of local, business and sports headlines.
A narrow selection makes sense, if you think how many of us live. Yes, please, to curated content on weekdays, that gives a chance to catch up quickly. Then, maybe first on weekends, one might want to read more, and even pay for the content.
At Star Tribune a strategy somewhat like this seems to work. After years of struggle, the paper now gets 70 percent of its money from subscribers, 30 percent from advertisers.
The employees even received bonuses earlier this year, which is not that common in this industry.
So there you go, let’s give a newsletter a try, once again.