A scientific approach to boosting revenue with email
Scientific American magazine brings its 9.5 million global readers the latest developments in science and technology. But sending too many emails was becoming costly and inefficient. So to lower their costs and grow sales, they needed to apply a bit of science using Acoustic Campaign.
savings on email cost
jump in email revenue
reduction in email volume
When Scientific American magazine was founded 175 years ago, digital marketing obviously wasn’t an option. But now that digital marketing is top of mind for them, finding ways to optimize their efforts is critical.
Christopher Monello, Senior Marketing Manager for Scientific American, saw that engagement metrics for marketing emails were lower than he’d like, for both the average open rate and click-through rate. One key issue was that too many emails were being sent — around 11 to 13 million per month — without segmentation. According to Monello, “Any time there was a marketing send, they would blast the entire list. The engagement wasn’t there. We weren’t using Campaign to its full potential.”
His number one goal for email was using it to grow sales, and a close second was to increase profitability by reducing the number of emails being sent. “We were spending way too much money and not seeing the level of profitability to justify the investment.”
Given his experience using Acoustic tools, he was confident he could get the most out of the Acoustic Campaign (formerly Campaign Automation) software and start doing more with less.
“My initial goal was to become the admin — the power user for the team,” notes Monello. He participated in monthly Ask the Expert calls and had frequent follow-up conversations with Acoustic. “The major thing that really taught me the full capabilities of Campaign was the automation project.” For every customer — whether buying a subscription or a single issue or signing up for a free newsletter — Monello would set up the technical framework for onboarding people the right way and also showing them their other products as well.
With 650,000 active marketing contacts, that’s a lot of customers to track. To save on costs and boost engagement metrics, Monello created engagement suppression lists designed to not send emails to people who are disengaged — meaning they hadn’t opened an email in three months.
He found the automation programs to be particularly innovative and helpful. “The drag-and-drop feature cut down on the time I was spending setting up the framework and flows,” Monello says. “There are several different flows in the templates that are pre-populated. Instead of me spending 30 minutes to an hour configuring the framework, I could drag-and-drop, and simply update the emails and timings. That really saved a lot of time.”
A new feature recently added to the Campaign queries also helped Monello and his team. Engagement behavior filters now enable them to exclude recipients based on engagement during longer-tail campaigns. “If there are five emails in a campaign and the customer engages on the first email, there’s no point in my bombarding them with another four emails,” he explains. “Having that capability, it makes our campaigns smarter.”
Campaign is connected to the Scientific American website, so a subscription promotion is triggered when a visitor who isn’t yet a subscriber views a page. Or if a visitor views the subscription page but doesn’t sign up, that visitor is automatically sent a 15% off discount offer.
In today’s data-driven world, Monello knew his metrics needed to be tracked and optimized. He notes, “Reporting is huge. My favorite feature is definitely the click-through reporting view with heat maps. I can see where people are actually engaging the most with emails. That’s made our emails smarter.”
The automated programs also enable cross-selling as the purchaser of a print or digital subscription is automatically sent a welcome email and onboarding instructions. One week later, the Campaign platform will send an email promoting collector’s editions. In another week the customer is offered a chance to sign up for free editorial newsletters.
According to Monello, setting up an A/B test in Campaign is very easy and user-friendly. He adds, “And it gives me the data to back up what I’m saying.”
So, their improved efficiencies are being delivered by Campaign. “Once the automated framework is set up, there’s no real work involved. We’re onboarding customers. We’re generating more sales. We’re converting customers from entry-level subscriptions to premium subscriptions. We’re working smarter.”
Christopher Monello, Senior Marketing Manager, Scientific American
Monello’s desired efficiency is now being realized: The total number of emails sent has dropped from 11.5 million emails per month down to 8.5 million emails — a cut of approximately 30%. The bottom line from Monello: “We’ve reduced email costs by 20% just with the reduction in email sends while we increased email revenue by 25% — which is huge.”
“I want us to be recognized for the marketing and technology work that we’re doing. Scientific American has always been recognized for amazing journalism — now let’s make us a publication recognized for marketing and tech as well.”
Scientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S., has been bringing its readers unique insights about developments in science and technology for more than 175 years. Scientific American offers print and digital subscriptions, eBooks, and newsletters in 14 languages with 9.5 million print and tablet readers worldwide, 10+ million global online unique visitors monthly, and a social media reach of 7+ million.