The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Herald staff | npattison@heraldnet.com
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Newsletter helps paper keep in touch with readers

This past November, The Herald's circulation department launched its "Subscriber for Life" program.

While that may sound like an expensive subscription option, it's not -- it's a way of doing business.

"It's about establishing relationships," circulation director Jorge Rivera said.

Newspaper circulation has been in decline throughout the country in recent years. One of the reasons, Rivera said, may be that newspapers have failed to create and maintain a rapport with their subscribers. While the news faithfully shows up on the front porch each morning, the only contact most readers have with their local paper is when the bill comes due.

The "Subscriber for Life" program is designed to change that.

"If we talk to them more often -- but not annoyingly often -- we should be able to maintain a relationship," Rivera said.

The key component of The Herald's program is a newsletter sent to subscribers via email. The newsletter calls attention to upcoming news stories, to coupons in the paper and to special deals offered by The Herald's advertisers. The newsletter is sent out once a month -- often enough to keep in touch, but not frequent enough to become bothersome.

"We don't want to be spammers," Rivera said.

While not all Herald subscribers receive the newsletter -- some have not provided or do not have email addresses -- the results have been "very positive," Rivera said. Roughly 25 percent of the readers who receive the newsletter are opening it and 40 percent of those are reading through the information.

"In email marketing, that is a very good rate," he said.

The hope is that the 40 percent find the information useful, thereby strengthening their bond with The Herald and increasing the likelihood they will choose to continue the relationship.

"At the end of a typical subscription cycle," Rivera said, "they will say 'The Herald gave me more than just the news and ads.'"

The payoff for the newspaper, of course, is a satisfied subscriber who sticks around for years.

Perhaps even for a lifetime.

Each week, Here at The Herald provides an inside peek at the newspaper -- its people and the work they do. Is there something you would like to know? Send your idea to Executive Editor Neal Pattison, npattison@heraldnet.com.

You can sign up for the newsletter at www.heraldnet.com/HeraldNetwork.


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