The Automated Journeys that can make a Publisher’s Life Easier

The 2017 DMA Email Benchmarking Report revealed that the least opened categories of emails were finance with 9.5. % and publishing with 7.6 %. In addition, that same research proved that the third lowest performing sector in terms of click through rates was publishing with 0.77 %. If you’re a publisher do not worry! We’re here to help and automated emails are here to save the day. According to the Adestra 2018 Email Marketing Census automation is the third most important focus for marketers after personalization and segmentation. Regardless of your industry, if you’re not currently using this tactic it’s time to start!

Why Automate?

E-consultancy reported in 2017, that 67 % of marketers have had success in implementing automated email. The DMA confirmed that over 75 % of email revenue is generated by triggered campaigns, rather than one-size-fits-all campaigns. In addition, according to eMarketer automated versus non-automated campaigns deliver better open rates and click through rates in 27 out of the 29 industries. For publishing, the open rate is higher by 36.2 % and the CTR is higher by 27.5 %.

If those statistics haven’t been convincing enough, you should think of the benefits automation brings:

  • It helps saves you time and frees you up to think about strategy, creative, cross-channel approach, etc
  • It helps create a better customer experience as they can receive responses in real-time
  • It enables you to gain valuable insight on your customers and use it to send the most relevant marketing communications.

Most importantly don’t forget that consumers have become increasingly savvy and as a result welcome emails and abandon basket reminders are now merely expectations.

Welcome and Nurture Journeys

MarketingLand looked at the different results generated by the various types of triggers. With a 29.1 % open rate and a 16.2 % click-to-open rate welcome emails delivered the best results. Now why not use this as the start of a nurture journey program as well?

If you’re looking for some quick tips on how to create a successful welcome journey take time to read our ‘Key element of welcome programs in the publishing sector’ blog.

You will see that among other things it is important to set expectations from the outset, have a clear idea of what your goal is and include a teaser. One great example of an automated subscription path comes from Prospect Magazine. Their aim was to increase paid subscriptions and incentivize new subscribers by showing them what they are missing. They used a 3-day trail which was a sneak preview of the vast variety of content people can get with their paid subscription. Overall, 3.4% of contacts who entered in the automated path converted within one month. Throughout the journey they had open rates of 46%.

Reactivation Journey

The reactivation trigger is the second most used tactic by marketers if we look at the MarketingLand chart. I believe that publishing is probably the best industry to embrace this as subscription renewals are the focus for gaining revenue from existing magazine customers. Essentially, you have all the data needed to make your lives easier. If done correctly this can deliver great results and ensure that you never lose a subscriber.

The most important thing to remember here is that personalization is key. The common misconception is that automated means less personalized, but that is not the case! To the contrary because it is automated, and you have created a logic behind your journeys this means you can personalize even more!

In addition, be careful that you get it right and test as much as possible. Since getting reactivation emails wrong cannot only mean you lose that subscription, but the person could also loose trust in you as brand and switch off from all your titles. Remember that timing is also important! There is nothing more off-putting than getting an email notifying you that your subscription is coming to end when you still have a couple of months left.

Future Publishing have a done a great job at automating their renewal process. They used and tested an automated program that that had 192 permutations to ensue that subscribers to the SFX magazine received the best experience. The email content of the subscription renewal emails was built using conditional content to display the right message, subscription, currency, correct discount and customer details. Personalizing the email and ensuring that the contact gets the most relevant information to them. Future saved a day and a half a week and saw an impressive increase of 25 % in email-driven revenue year on year.

The Post- Purchase Journey

Hopefully, at this point, you’re taking into account welcome, nurture and reactivation journeys. I’d like you to also consider the post purchase program. Usually, this type of program is most frequently associated with the retail industry due to its sales cycles and online presence. That said, its main goal is to build that relationship and create customer loyalty to potentially transform people into brand advocates. Overall, the aim is to keep people engaged and interested to encourage them to make a repeat purchase. Here are some of the benefits of using this strategy:

  • It can help you retain existing customers – As you may well know it takes more money to gain a new customer than to keep one;
  • It offers you the chance to potentially ask for feedback and then once again start building upon that trust;
  • It is a great way to cross-sell other products and increase order values;
  • It helps tract the customer path and their individual journey through vouchers or promo codes.

There is no reason this cannot be implemented in the publishing industry as well. If you still need some convincing, I would suggest having a read of our Why should you have a post-purchase strategy? blog.

We have a great example from Kogan Page who implemented this type of journey in their communications as they wanted to deliver a consistent automated post-purchase experience and increase conversions. They created a program that thanked customers for their recent purchase and provided a 20 % discount code that could be used on their next order. They tested this as a stand-alone email and an automated journey, the results were amazing! As a single email it made £0, yet as part of the post-purchase journey it saw a £200 in revenue during that first month. The single campaign resulted in a 46% open rate and 8% CTOR; and the same campaign in the automated program resulted in a 55% open rate and a 12% CTOR; proving once again that automaton is the way to go!

Key Takeaways

You should start automating your communications regardless of the industry you are in. However, if you are in publishing automation can help save you time, increase open and CTRs, optimize your renewal process, retain existing customers and generate more conversions.


  • Welcome emails have become customer expectation and there is no reason you cannot turn that into a successful nurture program. Don’t forget to set a clear goal for your program.
  • Reactivation journeys are perfectly fitted for the publishing industry as you should have all the data needed for that subscription renewal. You must test and test … and then test again! Reactivation emails that go wrong can have a lasting negative impact.
  • These types of programs should be personalized as much as possible! Use all the tricks in the book to get the most relevant and targeted content to your subscribers.
  • The post- purchase journey is not just for retailers anymore, publishers have to embrace this tactic as it can retain subscribers, increase customer loyalty and conversions.

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