This article is one in a series reporting on key sessions at LMA Fest 2022, Aug. 16-18 in Chicago. The session highlighted here was on driving revenue from newsletters, presented by Emily Dresslar, director of RevLab at The Texas Tribune; Graham Ringo, senior director, News Revenue Hub; and Rachel Rubin, vice president of customer success, LiveIntent.

Newsletters have been a key part of news organizations’ first-party data and funnel acquisition strategies for years. Not all newsletters, however, have advertising or sponsors. The LMA Fest panel of experts broke down how you can sell into your newsletters.

Rubin said LiveIntent recognizes that publishers understand the critical importance of a winning email strategy. LiveIntent provides email advertising and trading desk solutions. The company offers a buying platform for emails and display ads, as well as auctions that aggregate demand from advertisers, agencies and trading desks.

Ringo pointed to another growth area: “welcome series” for readers who are new to a community. The team at This is Tucson developed an eight-email series designed to help Tucson-area newcomers move in more smoothly by providing the unique-to-the-area information they need. This is Tucson is a client of News Revenue Hub.

To leverage scale and effort, the content was evergreen and the emails automated. Each email covered a different topic (such as local schools) for a total of 8 “welcome” orientation subjects. The campaign was sponsored, and tied the high-value content to the goodwill stewardship of the sponsor’s brand.

The email list used had a strong trust rate because of the value of the content for people during a time of need – so the team was able to introduce new, additional email products to those users. Team members further extended the effort by tying it to the #HowtoTucson hashtag. Besides sponsorship, they provided additional display inventory opportunities. A local bank sponsored the newsletter for several months.

In some ways this effort acts as a prototype, providing insights, knowledge, infrastructure and a basis for future projects. From those newcomer signups the team was able to convert 60 memberships to the daily newsletter within 30 days of their original sign up. The real pleasure for the team, though, was that after receiving the course of eight emails, 96% said they felt more informed.

For the Texas Tribune RevLab team, email efforts focused on fast-changing information on politics in Texas, Dresslar said.

The team’s approach fell under the same core Texas Tribune brand (one brand, two strategies), so it published a regular news email, The Blast (on Texas politics and policies), and The Brief, which was opt-in, curated, and delivered on weekdays.

The information was aggregated and provided by the Tribune’s teams, though The Blast was hand curated by the politics team, and it was published when the state legislature was in session. In effect, it was “the Texas voter’s daily guide to the most essential coverage of our elected officials, the policies that shape our daily lives, and the future of our state.”

A few stats about The Brief:

  • 66,000 subscribers
  • 12% year-to-date growth
  • 39% open rate
  • $560,000 sponsorship revenue
  • Looking at membership/subscription revenue

A few stats about The Blast:

  • 484 high-value subscribers (seasonal, so ebbs and flows depending on the legislative session)
  • Overall open rate 65%
  • $525,000 revenue (70% sponsorships/30% reader revenue)
  • Digital subscriptions and sponsors