Part&Parcel: Crafting the Perfect Newsletter

P&P_AwesomeSauce_Final (dragged) 1

Team AwesomeSauce – Barnes, Elliott & O’Beirne

Overview:

The Part&Parcel newsletter project is creating an elegant, interactive newsletter for our magazine readers and website users. It will be a weekly newsletter with five different installments, each running once a month. Our newsletter will provide an opportunity for our readers to connect with their communities as well as to connect with the Part&Parcel community via the content of the newsletter and the many links back to the official website. Readers will also have the chance to connect with their own communities by sharing the newsletter on social media or by participating in the events that are promoted. The newsletter will encourage discussion from its themes and articles.

About Us:

Team AwesomeSauce consists of three MPub candidates who are devoted to creating and delivering a newsletter that will both inform and inspire the readers of Part&Parcel, a magazine for people making the transition between the obligations of work and the luxury of retirement. The magazine focuses on travel, food and wine, active living, and giving back, all through the lens of community. The team members of P&P believe that community is part and parcel to a fulfilling retirement; they want the best for their parents and mentors and to create meaningful and lasting content; they are digital first; and they are western Canadian.

Aimed at a readership of western Canadians aged 50-70, Part&Parcel is everything readers need to transition into a fulfilling, community-based retirement: thoughtful, well-curated editorial, photo essays, tips and tricks, and lists that are pertinent to their needs and wants.

Team AwesomeSauce has a wide variety of resources from research, education and work experiences. We have previous experience with HTML coding, Creative Suite products, and market research. Elliott attended Lighthouse Lab’s HTML500 and will share her knowledge gained from that event with the team, and we have access to editorial content, features, audience specs, and other information from our parent publisher Part&Parcel magazine.

As a team, we tend to think very similarly and we all share the same vision for our project and newsletter; as such, our decisions will be made based on a general consensus. If the outnumbered party feels as though the decision should be revisited, we will discuss the issue calmly and rationally until all parties agree.

 

Publishing Vision:

Part&Parcel is rooted in quality and community and part of their mandate is to host events that reflect their principal intent: by curating the best of travel, food and wine, entertaining, exciting activities, and ways to give back.

Team AwesomeSauce aims to create a weekly newsletter that is elegant, responsive, interactive, and user friendly, that will:

1. Help readers build their community by hosting and promoting events that can be enjoyed by large friend groups, couples, and families, and by suggesting ways that they can give back to their community via links to stories featured in the magazine

2. Encourage readers to engage with the Part&Parcel community by inviting readers to connect with other readers at events and through contests, reader surveys, and polls

3. Promote P&P events

4. Draw traffic to the P&P website

 

Our Audience:

Our readers are women like Susan Fiorelli, a 67-year old part-time consultant with no plans of slowing down or giving up the lifestyle she’s accustomed to. She signed up for the newsletter at a Part&Parcel Academy cooking class and now often forwards the monthly event calendar to her friends and family who may be interested in joining her at a wine tasting or book club. Fifty-six-year-old Bill Lam, on the other hand, is thinking about slowing down at work and trying to live less technologically-connected, but he enjoys reading the P&P Active Living newsletter that his wife forwards to him; he’s already been to the running group, and he and his buddies have registered for the dragon boating event next month. And then there’s Marie O’Donnel; retired, healthy, and a grandmother of seven. At 71, she and her husband are finally taking the opportunity to relax and think about travelling, or at least throw their friends dinner parties with exotic foods. Her daughter signed her up to receive our newsletters, and now Marie and Harold will be attending a Part&Parcel sponsored fish fry at a local Victoria restaurant where they’ll learn a few new culinary tricks to wow their friends.

Statistics:

• “The Fastest Growing Demographic On Twitter Is The 55–64 Year Age Bracket. This demographic has grown 79% since 2012. The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+. For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%. For Google+, 56%.” (Fast Company)

• “75% of internet users over the age of 45 prefer to share information using email” (Relevanza)

• “Companies view email marketing as a better return on investment than PPC, content marketing, social media, offline direct marketing, affiliate marketing, online display advertising, and mobile marketing.” (Adestra 2013)

• “91% of consumers check their email at least once a day.” (Exact Target 2013)

 

Building Our List:

We realize that Part&Parcel is an emerging magazine that does not yet have an extensive emailing list. As such, we will be growing our lists in several ways:

• registration for P&P Academy events will require attendees to provide their email

• prize giveaways at each of the P&P events will require attendees to fill out a contact

card in order to win • participate in online ad exchanges with our sponsors

• run ads in the custom publications of our sponsors (Abercrombie & Kent Luxury Vacations, Princess Cruise Lines, Mission Hill Winery)

• constant social media presence

• offer copies of the magazine to groups (Arbutus Club) with the caveat that they

must email the magazine to receive their copy

• mailing list exchanges with similar companies (ex: Sunset Magazine)

For the first two years of our newsletter—or until our mailing list exceeds 20,000 addresses—every email address will receive all five newsletters (which equates to receiving a weekly newsletter). Once our lists have grown substantially enough, we will add the option to manage newsletters, giving our readers the opportunity to select any combination of newsletters they’d like to receive.

 

Our Traffic:

Finally, our newsletters will always direct the recipient back to the Part&Parcel website where they will be able to read the articles and watch the videos that we tease. They will be able to subscribe to the magazine, share more information with their friends, and browse an archive of all newsletters.

 

Newsletter Strategy:

Our newsletter will have four installments—one for each travel, food and wine, active living, and giving back that are sent out each Tuesday—that will rotate every four weeks, as well as a monthly events calendar that will be sent out one week prior to the change of the month. Each installment will feature a slightly different design and colour scheme so the reader doesn’t feel as though they’re reading the same letter week-in-week-out, but they will all bear the P&P nameplate and tagline in order to create brand recognition and loyalty among our readers. The design will be functional and appealing to the eye, will entice readers to make a call to action, and will have an attractive formatting that makes the information easily accessible.

The newsletter will rely heavily on photographs and have very minimal text. It will have social forwarding capabilities to Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, as well as the opportunity for recipients to subscribe to the magazine and manage which of the five news- letters they receive (once our list of recipients surpasses 20,000). Letters promoting events will have the option for readers to link event information to their personal calendars; it will load quickly to minimize the number of readers that might click past it, and it will focus heavily on the user experience aspect.

 

Subject Lines:

“33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone” (Salesforce 2013)

To ensure our newsletters reaches the eyes of our readership, we are crafting our subject lines with careful precision. Like the contents of our newsletter, our subject lines are useful, unique, ultra-specific, and urgent (CopyBlogger by Brian Clark). Our keywords include: review, daily, weekly, monthly, win, video, editor’s pick (Marketing Profs).

 

Example subject line:

• “Welcome to Part&Parcel’s Newsletter Community – P&P Welcome Newsletter” (to establish Part&Parcel as P&P)

• “7 Signs of Healthy Living – P&P Active Living January Newsletter”

• “Great Spring wines from Mission Hill – P&P Food & Wine March Newsletter”

• “P&P Exciting Summer Travel Newsletter – P&P Travel June Newsletter”

• “Give Back & Win – P&P Giving Back October Newsletter”

 

Mood Board:

We’ve collected some of our favorite designs and inspirations on our mood board on Pinterest. It is available at: http://www.pinterest.com/jetpackgirl/to-newslet-ter-mpub-technology-project/. From this collection we determined a few trends in newsletter design:

• colourful, inviting graphics

• easily accessible social media icons

• diverse typefaces

• company branding

• graphical representation of information

• newsletter as one image

• We have incorporated some of these trends into our newsletters.

 

Our Ads:

Our rich text format newsletters will feature ads from our sponsors as well as interested com- panies. We will charge our advertisers $65 per 1,000 email blasts, and given the specificity of each of our newsletters, we are confident that we will be able to sell ads on all five install- ments. We are most optimistic for our event calendar; in addition to listing our own events— which will be held two or three times a month—we will also list events from our sponsors and companies targeting a similar demographic. We will offer a listing type ad (which would include a maximum of 100 words, an image, and a link to the appropriate website), as well as banner ads (600px*90px) and, as such, our advertisers will create content for us.

 

Email Marketing Services:

We’ve researched various email marketing services we will look into include MailChimp, SimplyCast, and GraphicMail, iContact and Benchmark Email. We looked into what each of the mail servers could offer us in terms of ease of use, features, and user reviews. We also considered what limitations we might encounter with each. After careful consideration and speaking with our consultants, we decided to try both MailChimp (a more simple mail server designed for newer businesses) and iContact (a more comprehensive mail server designed for larger businesses).

To fulfill this project we will need to incorporate HTML into one or all of the above newsletter services. We will need to ensure our newsletters are easily accessed and used by our audience. We will need to determine how each newsletter service impacts our audience. We want to be able to host a multitude of media that provides users with exciting content, and also provides an opportunity for funnel traffic back to the Part&Parcel website. This media might include: photo slideshows, links to videos, polls, and audio. Our most important task will be to make a newsletter that is responsive and interactive.

 

Findings:

Through the stages of testing, we realized that despite originally intending to code newsletters using HTML, the email servers that we chose not only make coding unnecessary, but also somewhat difficult, requiring someone with extensive coding skills. For Part&Parcel Magazine, we believe that it would be unnecessary and quite costly to hire a programming professional to code newsletters, especially when their skills could be better allocated to a website or app. As such, we have found that the email server MailChimp is more than adequate to fulfill the needs of Part&Parcel.

 

Future:

Moving forward, Team AwesomeSauce will continue to send out further newsletter tests to our focus groups using MailChimp. While there are some limitations to MailChimp (non-responsive for android devices, limited font options, can’t code from template designs, can’t incorporate surveys into newsletters), it is simple to use and provides a lot of options for customizing our newsletters.

 

Note from the Creators:

The Part&Parcel newsletter project would like to express their thanks and appreciation to the following consultants for their support and knowledge:

• Trevor Battye, Clevers Media

• Monique Sherrett, Boxcar Marketing

• Roberto Dosil of Stanton, Dosil & Atkins

• Shannon Emmerson of BCBusiness

• John Maxwell, Simon Fraser University

 

Appendix 1

Scenario One

Susan Fiorelli is 67, maintains a comfortable living as a part-time consultant, and wants to uphold the lifestyle she’s become accustomed to—pedicures, tennis club memberships, society events, and shopping trips to Seattle. She believes that anyone can be successful with hard work, and that a lack of success is merely a sign of lack of effort. A grandmother of two with a busy social and professional schedule, Susan places a high value on her time and is careful to organize her day in order to take full advantage, which is why she values the Part&Parcel newsletter. She appreciates that the newsletter—which she’s received every Tuesday since she attended a Part&Parcel Academy cooking class with the ladies of her book club—informs her of Part&Parcel events happening in her city, and allows her to link the event information to her Google calendar. Because the events are typically geared toward large groups and/or couples, Susan often forwards the newsletters to her friends so they can plan to attend the same events. Since she already gives to a few charities of her choice, she’d originally planned to opt out of the ‘Giving Back’ installment of the newsletter that comes once a month, but was pleasantly pleased to find that the installment inspired her to volunteer in her own neighbourhood.

 

Scenario Two

At 56, Bill Lam has been thinking about leaving the corporate environment to pursue a slower-paced lifestyle—perhaps one that might allow him to concentrate more on personal investments. He’s been a part of the working world for nearly forty years and, while he believes in working hard and giving credit where it’s due, he thinks it’s high time he started living for himself and his wife, not for the office. He knows that upon retirement, though, he won’t be sitting idle; he needs a sense of accomplishment, the love and companionship of his family, and intellectual fulfillment. He wants more leisure time for travel, golf, and his garden, but more than anything, he wants to disconnect: he doesn’t want to check his phone for messages while having dinner with his wife and he doesn’t want to be bombarded with countless emails throughout the day. His new goal is to check his email once a day… right after he finishes the finance section of the paper over coffee; if its not important first thing in the morning, it’s not important at all… unless, of course, his wife sends him a link that’s absolutely pertinent. Speaking of which, he’s actually looking forward to that dragon boating thing she’s talked him into, and that running group looked like it might be a good idea, too.

 

Scenario Three

Retired, healthy, and a grandmother of seven, Marie O’Donnel is 71 and finally taking the opportunity to relax. She and her husband love to travel to exotic destinations and the two of them are always looking for the next adventure to have together. While both she and Harold have their health now, Marie knows that age sneaks up on a person, so she does whatever she can to ensure that they both keep fit and eat healthily. She enjoys throwing dinner parties and, now that she has the time, she’d like to take a few cooking classes and learn a bit more about food and wine pairings to impress her guests. Her daughter recently told her about an event that she’d gone to … something about a magazine launch party with roaming alcohol vendors… and the other day Marie received a newsletter in her email linking her to an article about the best places to travel at any age. Marie was interested in the article, so she’d clicked around the site and found some cooking classes. Now she and Harold are signed up for next Thursday’s Fish Fry at Red Fish Blue Fish in Victoria!

 

Appendix 2

MailChimp:

Pros:

  • Individual customer profiles

  • Segmentation for personalized email blast to specific groups

  • Flexible design options

  • Multi-account accessibility

  • Free use based on subscribers and emails (12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers)

  • Can view HTML source code

  • Unlimited image hosting

  • Forwarding possible

  • Allows for social media integration

  • Easy to update newsletter and subscriber list from mobile devices

  • Easy to use, and has online tutorials

  • Integrates Google Analytics

  • Easy and useful analytic tracking reports

Cons:

  • Cannot create or incorporate surveys into emails

  • Does not track successful/undeliverable emails

  • Does not allow for videos in email

  • Relatively low number of free email templates (24)

  • No phone support

  • Point of contact = web form on site

  • Difficult transition from free account, pay for more than you need

 

SimplyCast:

Pros:

  • Free for up to 2,000 contacts a month (unlimited emails)

  • Easy and attractive site navigation

  • Allows for HMTL email creation

  • Allows for template redesign and adjustments

  • Canadian company

  • Lots of payment option

Cons:

  • List creation and navigation possible but not intuitive

  • Takes some time to get use to the design editor

  • Analytics are less substantive than other servers

  • Customer support not as good as other servers

  • Free plan only provides 30 days of customer support via phone

  • Free plan has SimplyCast logo incorporated into emails

  • Generally not as popular, other servers have more online/user reviews

 

GraphicMail:

Pros:

  • Allows for video email marketing

  • 15 day free trial

  • 400 free email templates

  • Can send emails in 9 different languages

  • Located in 20 different countries

  • Incorporates smart publishing through email, text and social networks

  • Effective chat support available to users

  • Allows for HTML email creation

  • Allows for template redesign and adjustment

  • Autoresponder option available

  • Tracks forwarding

Cons:

  • Cannot create or incorporate surveys into emails

  • Only host 20 MB of images

  • Difficult to learn how to use (too many option)

 

iContact:

Pros:

  • Integrates social media plugs and share options

  • Simple to use

  • 30 day free trial

  • Allows for survey creating and distribution

  • Can view and edit HTML source code

  • Excellent testing feature, allows you to view email from different subscribers

  • Excellent service for premium account users

  • Consistently one of the highest rated servers

Cons:

  • Limited list importation tools

  • Only 5MB of image storage unless you want to pay for more

  • Images must be uploaded to storage for use

  • Does not allow for SMS delivery

  • Does not allow for video email marketing

  • Does not host triggered campaigns

  • Requires extra application for conversation rate information

  • Difficult to create separate lists

  • Limited analytics compared to other servers

 

Benchmark Email:

Pros:

  • Allows users to request new tools

  • Free for life plan, but cannot import email lists

  • Real time reporting

  • Polls and surveys easily integrated

  • Can attach files to newsletters

  • Allows for video integration

  • Comprehensive support

  • Consistently one of the highest rated servers

Cons:

  • Mobile view for iPhone only

  • Does not allow for SMS delivery

  • Limited connectability with other analytics tools

  • Only 10MB of image hosting

  • Does not host conventional tracking reports the way other servers do

 

Appendix 3

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P&P_AwesomeSauce_Final (dragged)

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