When Ray Tomlinson sent the first email to himself in 1971, even he would’ve been unaware of the impact this would have on human interaction in the coming decades. It essentially flicked the switch—albeit for an initially dim light—that would see the world enter the always-on phase.
The emergence of Google and Facebook in recent years has led to the tech hype shifting elsewhere (sending a message electronically isn’t that amazing anymore), but this has done little to hinder the continued relevance of email as the primary means of communication between businesses.
This plays nicely into the hands of niche trade publications such as Adrenalin Publishing’s DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing magazine, which has accumulated a monthly email newsletter reach of 6,320 New Zealanders, primarily working in the engineering and manufacturing industries.
While the magazine might not have the biggest digital audience in the country, it certainly has a valuable collection of readers with a decent level of financial clout, as illustrated by an anecdote Adrenalin publisher Cathy Parker sometimes tells.
“The best story I’ve ever had from the Engineering & Manufacturing magazine was from a client who posted an ad and then sold a million dollar piece of equipment,” she says.
It was inevitable that this tech-savvy audience would eventually migrate online, and Parker says email has emerged as a powerful means by which to connect with readers and keep them informed with what’s happening in their trade.
She says many subscribers were happy to sign up to the email database when Engineering & Manufacturing magazine first started sending them several years ago, and the numbers have steadily grown since then.
Part of the reason why subscribers are happy to invite Engineering & Manufacturing magazine into their inboxes or pay for the monthly edition is because they see it as a valuable addition to their working lives.
The stories written and curated by the team serve to inform those within the industry on what’s happening in the local market. It’s their link to the broader industry.
“One thing I’ve realised about the digital world is that it allows for your different platforms to inter-relate in ways I would’ve never imagined,” says Parker.
“For instance, we can use our Facebook following to drive newsletter subscriptions, which could then lead to new magazine subscribers. The whole thing works holistically between [those three channels].”
Parker says email, despite not having the cool factor of other online channels, has become integral to connecting the print and digital sides. Rather than idly waiting for web users to stumble upon your stretch of cyberspace, an email takes the more active approach of pointing them in the right direction.
“Email is almost the centre of everything we do digitally,” she says. “We can see that when we send out our emails we’ll always have a significant peak in web traffic.”
This is true of many business-to-business titles and certainly also applies to all the business publications at Tangible media, which all rely on email to drive traffic to their websites. StopPress, The Register and Idealog each have separate mailing lists of subscribers that have come to rely on newsletter to stay informed with what’s happening in their niches. It’s a value exchange that sees the email recipients trade access to their inboxes for content relevant to their jobs.
And because there’s a fair amount of overlap between these niches, the Tangible business team often shares content and cross-publishes articles that might be relevant to the different communities.
Parker says this is also the case at Adrenalin, where a story published in NZ Business magazine could, for instance, be included in the Engineering & Manufacturing newsletter.
Given the strong connection of the publication to its dedicated audience, it comes as little surprise that advertisers have shown an interest in reaching them in print but increasingly also online.
Parker says that a significant chunk of the digital revenue for Engineering & Manufacturing comes directly from email.
As opposed to the programmatic advertising approach that often yields low returns for publishers, email offers the advantage of direct sales opportunities.
Rather than just selling a slot on a website, Engineering & Manufacturing magazine monetises its audience through the inclusion of display ads and paid content posts in each editorial newsletter (clients also have the option of paying for an entire newsletter).
Of course, there are other online distribution channels that allow for the information to be disseminated to specific audiences; Facebook and Google’s programmatic networks are obvious examples.
However, these aren’t quite the same as delivering something directly to a person who has agreed to receive that information specifically because it interests them.
And Parker also makes the point that Adrenalin owns the database of subscribers, giving the team greater control in terms of how that information is used.
Parker says this database is by no means a static spreadsheet of numbers and names.
“We’ve done a lot of work over the last year in terms of improving our database,” she says.
To meet marketers’ demands for increased personalisation and segmentation, Adrenalin has been working with third party providers to fill out the information it already has on the books to develop a richer, more granular offering.
And with email showing no signs of slowing down as the preferred means of corporate communication, that additional data will no doubt come to good use as the Engineering & Manufacturing team looks to keep subscribers clicking through to the site.
This story is part of a content partnership with the Magazine Publishers Association.