Success Story

Station Drives $50K with Email Birthday Club

WGN-TV's birthday emails deliver over 50% open-rate with monthly videos featuring on-air talent

by Diana Dionisio, WGN-TV

Case Study Highlights

  • $50,000 in revenue
  • Averge 52% open rate
  • Unique monthly videos featuring on-air talent

The Idea

WGN-TV is Chicago’s Very Own, a local powerhouse producing over 70 hours of local news each week. This year we launched our birthday club email list. We wanted this program to be exciting for audience members, our team, and potential advertisers. After hearing about the great open rates birthday emails normally generate, we hoped ours would deliver high engagement rates as well.

WGN Birthday Club Logo

The Execution

We designed our birthday club emails to include three unique components each month: a video featuring our on-air talent, a birthday offer from advertisers, and an exclusive high-value giveaway.

Each month our on-air talent, Mike Toomey, creates a short, 30-60 second video wishing viewers a happy birthday – but with a twist! Since we update these each month, our video host has some fun personalizing each video with a monthly theme. For example, in January, he joked about the disappointment of combination birthday/Christmas gifts, and in July, he dressed up as Uncle Sam.

The email also includes a high-value giveaway, through partnerships, which changes each month. Once enrolled in our birthday club, users are automatically entered to win each monthly giveaway prize (a $500 value.) So far, we gave away a four-pack of tickets to Michael Buble, a $500 gift card to the Room Place, and even a birthday party for 10 at a Blue Man Group show!

The last unique component of our birthday emails is advertiser offers. We currently include one advertiser offer per quarter, and switch them out to keep the content fresh and engaging. We hope to expand this section to include more offers from local advertisers as they sign on with us.

Securing advertisers is critical to this step of our plan, so we needed to create a valuable sponsorship package worth the advertiser’s monthly investment. We also wanted to give this on-air support with promo spots and specific spots that ran in our popular WGN Morning News. Here’s an example of what our monthly sponsorship package looked like.

We wanted to grow our birthday club list fast, so we launched a ‘join the club’ campaign in December. This promotion is a year-long, high-value sweepstakes to attract interested audience members to opt-in. To drive excitement, we launched with a BIG prize tied to the Chicago Bulls basketball team.

To ensure the success of the Birthday Club campaign, each month we run a four-week marketing plan to promote the new prize:

  • Week one – New monthly birthday spot debuts – runs for 3 weeks (20 ROS)
  • Week two – Birthday bumps run on the news (4 bumps); social goes out; spots continue
  • Week three – Birthday sports finish up ROS run
  • Week four – E-blast goes out (database list 100k)

After just one month of our ‘join the club’ campaign, we knew we were onto something good.

The Results

To date, our birthday club is now more than 42,000 members strong! More than 28,000 viewers have entered the Grand Prize Contest, and more than 20,000 viewers have received our birthday email on their birthday. In addition, our birthday club email is also generating a 52% opt-in rate.

In its first month of our ‘join the club’ sweepstakes, the contest added nearly 7,000 opt-ins to our birthday club list! To date, the sweepstakes brought in over 30,000 opt-ins for our birthday club and an additional 22,000 opt-ins for our general station database. Plus, having sold all twelve months, we were able to secure $50,000 in revenue.

The Birthday Club campaign continues to be a big opportunity for us to grow our audience database and keep them engaged all year long. We can’t wait to expand and grow next year!

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