Best Email Newsletter for Marketing Purposes: Honorable Mention Consumer Fossil Rim Wildlife Center: Wildlife W@tch
MarketingSherpa Summary -
Why They Won:
Fossil Rim’s content team are continually thinking up new reader involvement devices. They don’t just ask you to click to read more, they ask you to help name the new baby giraffe, to enter your own photos in a contest, and to submit articles. Plus, content includes downloadable posters and desktop images. We like the way this newsletter pushes the envelope to be more to its readers.
From Their Nomination Form:
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a 1,800-acre natural wildlife conservation facility in Glen Rose, Texas. Its financial support comes largely from donations from visitors and members, so communication is key to maintaining this support and keeping the focus on the animals and land. The e-newsletter program is a very cost-effective tool for gaining new visitors, building a relationship with supporters and keeping them involved. It’s also a vital tool for cross-selling membership and products from the Nature Store, as well as educating its readers on other aspects of Fossil Rim, like its camps, home school programs, lodging, events, tours and more. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is smaller in size for a non-profit organization, compared to other behemoth non-profits. However, it has taken the pace of the cheetah when it comes to adopting a strategic e-marketing program. In just more than one year after the launch of the Center’s Wildlife W@tch e-newsletter, its subscriber base grew from less than 1,000 to more than 4,000 targeted, opt-ins and now this customer communication program boasts an online audience of more than 6,500.
The key to this success? Fossil Rim understands the importance of handing over its trust and support to a third party to develop a long-term, ongoing strategy for its customer communication program. That partner is Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas based E-marketing Strategies, Inc. led by President Mona Belcher. E-Marketing Strategies showed Fossil Rim the importance of trying new things, adapting to the needs of its audience and remaining fluid to the changing interests. E-Marketing Strategies created Wild W@tch, and just like the wildlife stars of this e-newsletter, Wild W@tch itself has evolved with its changing habitat ‘ the readers. This first step to launching Wildlife W@tch was to clean the existing list of 1,000 database members. E-Marketing Strategies tackled this by sending a ‘thank you for your support’ message and inviting Fossil Rim members to become newsletter subscribers. Next, a template was created that included all the right elements for effective e-mail marketing: quick download time, easy-to-use navigation and fun graphics (photos of the baby animals are especially popular).
And then, of course, was the main ingredient–the content. The goal of the customer communication plan is to build a sense of community and to keep members and visitors up-to-date. E-Marketing Strategies guides Fossil Rim on the type of content that will engage its audience. Some recent article topics include Field Notes from Dr. Robin Radcliffe and Animal Care’s Adam Eyres, also known as the ‘Rhino Wrangler.’ Other key elements that E-marketing Strategies incorporated include: A sense of appreciation by sending special offers and ‘first to know’ material. Reader involvement, like voting on names for a new baby Photo contest and recent stories submitted by Fossil Rim visitors.
Downloadable posters and desktop images. Photography plays an especially important role in Wildlife W@tch. In fact, the photos receive almost as many clicks as the articles themselves. Fossil Rim and E-Marketing Strategies spend time testing the content and the promotions to see what its audience is hog ‘wild’ about. The outcome is a few regular features ‘ like Cheetah Chatter, Distinguished Resident and What’s Gnu. Since its inception, Wild W@tch has published 27 consecutive months, retaining readers from all over the world, including Africa, New Zealand, Europe and Canada. Its popularity is due to consistency, strong branding, sense of anticipation, successful delivery and less than average bounce rate. With the success of this program, Fossil Rim continues to allocate more marketing dollars into their customer communication program and is redeveloping the website based on information it has harnessed from its e-newsletter program. Fossil Rim’s e-newsletter subscriber base started with less than 1,000. Current audience is 6,500 (in 27 months) and growing. All subscribers are 100 percent permission based. A key to this success is an excellent list-building strategy, which grows consistently by 300 subscribers each month. This program also maintains higher than average open rates, which are always between 35 to 40 percent. Wild W@tch has never had an open rate less than 30 percent. The click-through rate is 16 to 20 percent of those received.
The e-newsletter also generates web visits, new member sign-ups, donations. For example, when the newsletter featured a $99 lodge special, it received a very high forward rate, plus generated instant calls and emails inquiries. The e-newsletter also gets read all the way to the bottom. In March 2006, the links in the very last article of the newsletter received the highest number of clicks. Another key to this success is to keep the links ‘live ‘indefinitely. Past issues of Wild W@tch are archived, and they’re optimized for search engines ‘ providing even greater exposure for Fossil Rim. In the coming months, E-Marketing Strategies plans to implement email surveys and add a new email confirmation page that is well-branded and provides new subscribers a special ‘new subscriber’ discount in an effort to motivate subscribers to make the journey to Fossil Rim. There are many things on the horizon for this email program. The subscriber database is expected to grow to 10,000 by the end of 2006, making this program one of the largest email program for a non-profit this size.