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Over the course of the Reader Revenue Accelerator’s second session in Berlin, the 14 participating publishers repeatedly returned to newsletters as a key way to drive digital subscriptions.

“A big takeaway from this Accelerator session is the importance of newsletters to convert readers into frequent readers, and then convert them into subscribers,” said Florian Wenzel, Reader and Channel Marketing at Verlag und Druckerei Main-Echo.

Here are some key takeaways about newsletters’ role in strengthening subscriptions from the Reader Revenue Accelerator participants.

Main-Echo: Don’t Assume Your Readers Know About Your Newsletters

Rather than marketing their newsletter to a wide audience, Main-Echo decided to encourage a specific group of readers to subscribe to their newsletter: engaged readers. These engaged readers have given their email to Main-Echo, but haven’t yet subscribed to a newsletter.

They’re a valuable audience, the Main-Echo team said. These readers have demonstrated an interest in Main-Echo’s content, and likely aren’t aware of their options to engage even further.

One way Main-Echo tested this hypothesis was to send a one-time opt-in email to those readers. “No gimmicks. It was important to have simple language and tell our readers what to do: Sign up for our newsletter,” said Sabrina Kuhn, Social Media Marketing.

The result: “We doubled the number of newsletter subscribers in just one week.”

Mediengruppe Straubinger Tagblatt/Landshuter Zeitung: Send Existing Subscribers Newsletters Too

Newsletters aren’t limited to encouraging readers to become subscribers, the team at Mediengruppe Straubinger Tagblatt/Landshuter Zeitung shared. Newsletters can also provide paid subscribers with exclusive content.

“We aim to use newsletters to activate subscribers by showing them the benefits and rewards of being subscribers,” said Andreas Seidl, Managing Editor.

For example, Andreas said, they have sent newly activated subscribers:

This tactic serves to engage subscribers and keep them excited about their subscription. As a result, they’ll stick around for longer.

Russmedia: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – Look at What You Already Do Well

The team at Russmedia left the first Accelerator session focused on all things email.

“Email marketing is key. We left Session 1 wanting to make changes to improve our newsletters quickly. We already have newsletters, so we looked at what’s working and how we can use newsletters better,” said Julian Halder, Head of Audience & Marketing at Russmedia.

For instance, Vorarlberger Nachrichten, a publication in the Russmedia group, sends a daily morning newsletter from its editor-in-chief that’s quite popular and engaging.

The Russmedia team decided to lean into the morning newsletter in two ways:

1. Add new subscribers to this morning briefing. This would ensure subscribers stay engaged with content off the bat.
2. Try a similar format in the evening that surfaces the most popular articles of the day.

Both tactics are actionable and easy to implement quickly, Halder said.

The Accelerator Program

The Facebook Journalism Project’s Accelerator Program helps news publishers build sustainable businesses. Funded and organized by the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP), each Accelerator includes a three-month period of hands-on workshops led by news industry veterans, grants administered by non-profit journalism organizations, and regular reports on best business practices. The Accelerator’s executive director is Tim Griggs, an independent consultant/advisor and former New York Times and Texas Tribune executive.

For monthly updates on the Accelerator Program, sign up for the FJP newsletter.