Creighton Green, Founder of Audience, on The Local Marketing Trends Podcast with Gordon Borrell. Here’s What You Need To Know.

May 24, 2024


At Audience, we're always excited to see how media companies are utilizing the power of email to engage their audiences and drive revenue. Recently, our co-founder, Creighton Green, joined Corey Elliott and Gordon Borrell on The Local Marketing Trends Podcast to discuss the evolving landscape of email marketing and its impact on the advertising industry. Take a look at the insightful conversation:

Historical Audience Evaluation - Is Nielsen Providing a Phantom Audience Share?

In Radio and TV, we often claim to reach 90% of the listenership, viewership, or readership. We want our numbers to look big and to have the biggest market share. In the attempt to show a big market share, are we inflating these numbers? Are these numbers a true representation of our audiences? For instance, 90% of people might listen to the radio at least once a week, but it doesn't mean they listen 24/7. Similarly, 90% of households own a TV, does that number directly translate into how much market share a company really has?

So how do we translate this evaluation process to email? Argue this, 96% of adults check email daily. Does that mean you have 96% of the email marketing share in your area? At past conferences, we emphasized the importance of using accurate metrics, encouraging media companies to strive for realistic shares of the email addresses in their markets—typically around 30% to 50%. Inflating the numbers can lead to overly ambitious goals and the pitfalls experienced by newspapers, radio, and TV in the past, where reaching for unrealistic figures turned the data into just another number.

A New Way Of Evaluation

Broad Audiences to Targeted Audiences

An email address represents a real person, not just a phantom. Each message you deliver reaches an individual, providing direct, person-to-person contact. Unlike broadcasting a message on TV and hoping that a vague, unidentified group is watching, an email is sent to people who are known to check their inboxes, with 97% doing so at least once daily.

An email list is the starting point of a first-party data set for media companies. Gathering and building upon it allows advertisers to enhance their targeting capabilities. In the past, local advertisers prioritized reaching broad audiences, and media companies responded by boasting large readerships or viewerships. But as advertisers shifted their focus to precision targeting, the importance of curated data became evident.

Now, it’s not just about targeting a broad audience; it’s about reaching the right people. The evolution of email lists involves refining them to ensure each message gets in front of the most relevant audience. This progression allows advertisers to focus on quality interactions, ultimately enhancing the value of each campaign and making media company's more valuable.

Facebook Fans to First-Party Data

Emails were initially regarded as a tool for building larger newsletters, often relegated to a side project without much priority. But now, it's clear that the media company with the most first-party data in a market holds a competitive advantage, attracting advertisers eager to reach those individuals.

Back in 2011, the focus was primarily on Facebook. Everyone was fixated on accumulating fans and likes, seeing these as key metrics of success. The entire industry embraced this trend until it became evident that such numbers were more of a vanity metric than something that could drive meaningful results. This realization became more apparent as Facebook adjusted its algorithms, limiting which posts could be seen.

In a similar vein, some companies measured a TV station's success by tallying how many Facebook fans or Twitter followers its anchors and station had, using these figures to compare against others in the market. The aim was to climb the leaderboard and boast about who had the most followers. Unfortunately, these numbers were within Facebook's and Twitter's ecosystems, leaving media companies as mere participants in their world and lacking true ownership over their audiences.

This has underscored the importance of making email the focal point, as it's the starting point for creating a meaningful audience profile. While some companies boast email lists of 10,000 or 50,000 addresses, the true value lies in understanding the upper limits of how many quality email addresses and contact information can be gathered to create a robust, first-party data set.

Moving From Email Lists to Targeting

Focusing on first-party data and leveraging email addresses to target consumers is the next evolution in digital marketing. Rather than just highlighting your audience, emphasize the customers of local businesses that can be reached through email. This approach is crucial because, on average, 90% of adults check their email daily, making it a highly effective medium for advertising.

To manage email communications effectively, consider strategies similar to direct mail campaigns. For example, running contests can rapidly increase your email database, but it's essential to qualify these emails with first-party data. By asking questions and collecting additional information, such as interests and preferences, you can enhance the value of your email list and tailor your communications accordingly.

An excellent example of leveraging email effectively is from Durango, Colorado, where businesses collected email addresses through contests and newsletters. They used this data to tailor their communications to potential visitors, significantly increasing the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Similarly, a radio group in the Midwest kept in touch with snowbirds through email newsletters, providing information on topics like travel and golf, tailored to their interests.

Collecting email addresses are extremely important, and better yet, qualify those email addresses by learning more about the person.

Evaluating Your Email Market Share

There's always a debate about quality versus quantity, and many email addresses were gathered years ago. Therefore, we must evaluate how current these addresses are, whether people still have and use them.

When counting email addresses in a media company's database, we need to assess how many are active, subscribed, and provide additional information beyond just an email. Despite this, we've seen remarkable growth in some markets. For instance, in Atlanta, some of our clients have added over 60,000 new profiles this month alone.

These significant spikes in growth are usually tied to campaigns or incentives, such as cash giveaways, grocery or gas gift cards, event tickets, or concert passes. When analyzing these spikes, we often relate them to the overall population in a specific market to determine where they stand. For example, in British Columbia, we examine the exact market and how these numbers compare to the local population. Once a media company reaches a level of market saturation—typically around 40% or more of the population over 18—they're well-positioned to capture advertisers' attention.

We advise clients to aim for a specific growth goal, encouraging them to analyze their market and determine realistic targets. Strive to reach 40% or more of your target audience, focusing on getting them to opt in, share their email addresses, and start building valuable audience profiles.

The Company that Owns the Most First-Party Data Wins

To estimate the number of email addresses in your market, multiply the number of adults over 18 by 0.9. This gives you a rough estimate of the potential email reach in your area. To set a target, multiply this number by 0.4, as Creighton suggested, aiming for around 40% of the email addresses in your market. This is a significant share, similar to what stations or newspapers aim for in their respective markets.

Once you've identified your target, the next step is to make your email marketing strategy viable and active. This involves engaging with your audience, providing valuable content, and continuously optimizing your approach. Aim high and strive for a 40% to 50% share of the email addresses in your market. And that's how you win in your market. 

Owned Audiences VS Borrowed Audiences: Which Makes More Money?

The revenue potential from an email address can vary widely. Some groups generate revenue through banner ads in newsletters, with the cost per thousand impressions increasing as the email database grows. However, the real value lies in viewing email addresses as more than just newsletter subscriptions. 

By collecting additional data about subscribers, such as their interests, demographics, and buying habits, email addresses can transform into valuable leads that advertisers are willing to pay for access to. This approach converts email addresses into a valuable asset, far exceeding the revenue potential of simple newsletter subscriptions. 

For example, while the average revenue per email can vary, studies have shown that personalized emails can generate up to 6 times higher revenue per email than non-personalized emails. Unlike borrowed audiences on platforms like Facebook, an owned audience of email subscribers and profiled leads can be incredibly valuable and sustainable.

Let’s Look At Some Examples

Atlanta Morning Show - Collecting over 60,000 emails in one month with “Cash in the Morning”

Let's get into some examples of groups who are making great progress with email capture and profile building.

In Atlanta, a morning show on a TV station is running a cash giveaway, which has already helped them add over 60,000 profiles to their database this month alone. You might be thinking those who don't win the prize are likely to opt-out, but the reality is it's less than 5% in most markets.  

Opt-outs can be higher when data is mishandled. For instance, if someone enters a cash giveaway but suddenly gets bombarded with multiple emails daily on various topics, it can feel overwhelming and impersonal. It's crucial to build trust, ensuring people willingly share their email addresses and stay engaged. As a result, it all starts with the email address, and from there, it's about expanding profiles and handling collected data thoughtfully to enhance long-term engagement. But If you can capture the email address, your likelihood of keeping that email address, assuming you are not abusing it, is highly likely.

Cox Media - Gaining Millions of Emails with “Listen to Win”

Cox Media, one of our customers, has achieved impressive results with their "listen and win" contests. They've transitioned from sms-based to powering them by our platform. This contest alone attracts over 35,000 participants, daily. Adding such a substantial number to their database not only boosts engagement but also impresses advertisers.

Another success story involves a group that owns several radio stations in smaller markets. Upon joining us, they had 150,000 profiles in their database. Now, that number has soared to over 2.4 million. This exponential growth is a testament to the effectiveness of their email capture strategies.

These examples highlight the significance of building and nurturing a first-party database. Whether it's through contests or other marketing efforts, the results can be truly remarkable.

Next Steps for Media Companies?

The key takeaway is clear: owning first-party data, particularly email addresses, isn't just an operational metric; it's a strategic asset that can significantly enhance a media company's competitive edge and revenue potential.

For media companies looking to thrive in this new environment, the best next step is to actively invest in building and maintaining a robust first-party email database. This means not just collecting email addresses, but also deepening the knowledge of their audience through direct interactions and tailored content. By transitioning from broad, untargeted audience strategies to focused, data-driven engagements, media companies can unlock a more sustainable and lucrative path forward.

In practical terms, initiating or enhancing email capture campaigns, integrating them with direct marketing techniques, and using the insights gained to drive personalized, high-value interactions will be crucial. This strategic pivot not only aligns with modern marketing demands but also positions media companies at the forefront of the advertising industry, making them indispensable partners to advertisers aiming for precision and efficiency in their campaigns.

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May 24, 2024