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The following article appeared in a recent NFCB newsletter. You can subscribe for free here.

Station newsletters are a wonderful way to give your listeners a sense of ownership in the station. A newsletter can also serve to remind them about how you line up with their values, and are a good place to donate. In addition, newsletters give you a longform place to explain what station membership means and to emphasize the costs associated with quality programming. Although you can use a newsletter to promote your programming and events, this is a chance to enrich your relationships, too.

With the advent of analytics, organizations have more data than ever about the success of a newsletter. You can learn everything from open rates (how often people open your email) to what readers are responding to. The knowledge you glean from your newsletter’s metrics can help you know what your fans enjoy. Understanding their habits means you’ll cater better to them and, in turn, have a stronger connection.

Select case studies and newsletter experiments may help your community radio station newsletter strategy to become more compelling. A few vivid reads on newsletters include:

  • Six Lessons about Email and Audience Growth for Nonprofit News. Not collecting email addresses? Email is an effective, affordable way to communicate. “Make email acquisition — and source tracking — a priority, and orient your org chart, web design, and partner strategy around this priority. This will require willingness to experiment, patience, and analysis of your performance.”
  • Inside the Seattle Times’ newsletter strategy. “[W]ith an increasing amount of news consumption occurring on mobile devices through social platforms such as Facebook, publishers have been looking for ways to directly reach readers without having to deal with the platforms’ algorithmic whims.” Frequency and links back to your website are among the most interesting things the newspaper learned.
  • Lessons Learned from the Quartz Email Team. A clean visual design, a focus on content and balancing design and editorial concerns are key. “Newsletters have an opportunity to grow a deeply loyal readership, which is great for retention.”
  • 4 Ways Newsletter Publishers Can Hit Open Rates Between 50 and 60 Percent. Good fundamentals include original content and keeping a personal touch in your newsletter. You’ll also catch some stats on the growth of newsletters, then faltering, then ascendance, in our media space.
  • On-air, online and on demand. A look at how non-commercial radio stations are presenting membership to readers and listeners.
  • GroundSource switched from an email newsletter to a SMS newsletter and actually got responses. Most of us would not dream of ditching our newsletter for texts to members, for many reasons, but this experiment may be of interest. The radio show 1A tried it, and GroundSource shares its lessons. “It’s been a thing on the to-do list to restart the email newsletter, and we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just another marketing ploy… We thought ‘how can we be useful to folks, let’s take what we do and put it in email form’…. We talked with some folks and sensed it was the right approach, but we weren’t getting the right feedback to maintain.”
  • The Locally Engaged subscribe because they care about the community. How a newsletter chose a topic and built a community around its interests. “Locally Engaged subscribers all cite access to local news as important to their decision to subscribe. Four in 10 also say a number of interesting articles, topic coverage, and wanting to support local journalism were important.”

Stations take seriously their commitment to education and inquiry. NFCB is here to help enhance those aspirations. With our Solution Center, webinars, peer network and more, NFCB assists stations in doing more in every area. We hope to explore many of the ideas you read in this newsletter at our Regional Summits. Please see us in California in September. And if your community radio station is not yet a member, you can join NFCB today.


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