What do you do when you have a great message, an audience hungry for your content, a unique perspective…and a scalability challenge?
For sports publisher The GIST, the solution was simple yet elegant. The women-led media brand aims to make the world of sports more accessible and inclusive to all and challenge the status quo of a male-dominated sports and media industry.
The startup has seen meteoric growth since its launch in 2017, expanding to cover new markets and quickly nurturing a loyal subscriber base in Canada and the United States. But fast growth comes with growing pains, and the publisher’s small team needed a way to scale up and maintain their momentum.
Campaign Monitor’s flexible platform and dynamic content capabilities were the perfect solutions to help The GIST sustain its growth and continue its mission.
- Segmented campaigns developed in 25% of the time
- Double the industry average open rate
- Grew mailing list from 30,000 to 100,000 since joining Campaign Monitor, 233% increase
Scaling and growing with dynamic content
The GIST’s approachable, digestible spin on sports news and commentary has been a huge hit.
But as email marketers in the media and publishing space know, reaching more and more people comes with its own challenges, especially as you push into new geographic markets. Sports is often an incredibly local experience, meaning each new market needs distinct, relevant content served to it.
The GIST succeeds through the quality, thought, and care it puts in to each of its newsletters. But scaling that amount of time, effort, and resources into a new email for each new market was unsustainable.
“The permutations and combinations of all the different newsletters would be insane,” said co-founder Roslyn McLarty. “We’re in so many cities now compared to where we were before Campaign Monitor, and even that was getting out of hand.”
Thanks to clever use of Campaign Monitor’s dynamic content capabilities, the team developed a solution that served its growing community and media buyers. Dynamic content elements built into the newsletter can easily be adjusted to show content and stories relevant to the individual subscriber. The platform automates the menial manual work of building a new email for each segment, reducing the resources needed to send a newsletter down to 25% of what it would be otherwise.
“The dynamic content is super helpful because there’s some content that’s important to everyone, some stories that are important on a national level, and there are some city-specific pieces. It’s important not just for our subscribers but our advertisers that we can swap out content to be more relevant to different audiences,” said McClarty.
As automatic as Serena Williams
It’s one thing to acquire a new subscriber, and another to keep them coming back for more. Making a big first impression and nurturing a new relationship into loyalty is paramount to keeping engagement rates up and advertisers happy.
The GIST’s solution is a thoughtful automated email journey delivered to new signups. Campaign Monitor’s automated email journey capabilities make it easy to segment subscribers for the most welcoming and relevant possible experience.
Each journey is highly customized based on a variety of factors, including the location of the subscriber source and their sign up source (organic search, cross-promotion, referral, etc.). It includes a welcome email, an introduction to The GIST’s story and mission, a reminder about the referral program, and a survey email asking for feedback and input.
Testing the way to gold-medal results
Sports is not a new topic for a publisher to focus on. But The GIST had a new perspective and a goal to target an audience that previously has not been heavily engaged by sports media. The newsletter’s founders had to find out what their audience wanted and responded to on their own.
Campaign Monitor’s A/B testing feature was the perfect tool to gather data-backed insights and make incremental improvements in their email KPIs. It’s a large component of what’s helped them increase their average open rate an additional 5% since partnering with Campaign Monitor.
“Our open rates are very dependent upon the subject line and preview text,” McLarty explained. “The ability to A/B test is big. We’re moving into A/B testing for content as well to optimize getting people to share our newsletter, as a way to grow; testing buttons and copy options to optimize our referral funnel. And obviously, with ads, we’re trying to optimize the engagement we get for our brand partners so that we’re able to monetize better.”
Growing with Campaign Monitor
The GIST was using a different platform when first launching its newsletter program. But as they added new markets and expanded subscriber lists, they began to outgrow their email solution.
McLarty said several factors played into the choice to move to Campaign Monitor.
“When we’re putting together the newsletters, it’s very user friendly for us,” she said. “We can just insert a section and determine which segments will get it. It gave us the flexibility to put together the email and set it up to go out to all our markets the way we need it to.”
We love working with Roslyn and her team. And of course, we love The GIST! If you’re in need of a sports fix with an irreverent, fun, and female voice, subscribe to their newsletter (and tell them we sent you).
Are you a publisher looking to grow and scale your email program without the mess? Let us know!