Email: The Single Most Important Audience Development Tool

Every successful niche publisher we know uses email as the central resource of their audience development toolbox


As you know, our clients are some of the most incredible before/after examples of niche publishers who have turned their businesses around when they went multiplatform. And there’s not a single Mequoda client without email as the core of their audience development program. Even our most socially savvy publishers are actively and aggressively using resources to build robust email lists because they know social media is fleeting and is becoming less and less free. Email, however, is a very personalized place to deliver news and information with an almost guarantee it will be received.

There are seven major Audience Development models we have identified: search, social, syndication, email, retail, paid advertising, and direct mail. Today I’m focusing primarily on email, and using Green Gardens Network as an example. If you’re new to Mequoda, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with Green Gardens Network (GGN), our composite case study, and CEO Rose Harper, the embodiment of all our clients whose “example” we use as a teaching tool without revealing real publishers’ names or data.


As mentioned, email is an integral part of Mequoda’s strategy to Attract, Capture, Engage and Monetize an audience. We want to attract an audience through methods such as optimizing content for search and then have appropriate architecture on the website to capture visitor’s email addresses in exchange for a valuable piece of free content.

But what are you going to do now that you have these email addresses? Simply sending them one marketing message after another will lead to unsubscribes. And those who don’t unsubscribe will stop opening your email and devalue your brand if all you do is market them a product with every email.

To maintain an engaged audience and keep your email list numbers up, publishers should send regular content-based emails with more valuable free content. Sending regular email keeps your audience engaged with your brand, making them more likely to think of you first when it comes time to buy.

If you fail to keep your audience engaged, they will drop off your email list and you will never have a chance to monetize them. They will be gone. Maybe forever. So, keep the good content flowing.

Whether or not your efforts are successful can be determined by your email metrics. Is your unsubscribe rate increasing or decreasing? Is your email click-through rate increasing or decreasing? Is your open rate increasing or decreasing? These are the metrics Mequoda lives by:

  • Open rate
  • Click rate
  • Revenue per email subscriber
  • Site-wide email capture rate
  • Email opt-out rate
  • Email retention rate

You can find out how to calculate those metrics here.

In order to keep her metrics positive, Rose Harper at Green Gardens will keep her audience engaged by sending content emails 7 days a week. Monday through Saturday she will send the Green Gardens Daily, an email packed with content taken from the free portal website. On Sunday, she will send Green Gardens Weekly, an email listing all the content posted in the daily emails during the week.

Each edition of the Green Gardens Daily email will be a stacked email (more on stacked emails here) with four feature headlines and snippets. In between the snippets will be sponsored text ads, as well as magazine and tour reviews to drive the audience to those parts of the web site. Over the six days, all of Rose’s 24 topic areas will be covered.

On Sunday, the 24 headlines and snippets will be divided into 12 segments of two stories, with spaces in between filled by sponsors text ads, magazine reviews, tour reviews and a text ad for another free report.

If you’d like to talk more about how an email-centric audience development strategy can turn your niche publication around, please set up a time to talk with us.


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