We recently hosted a webinar with Axios’ VP of Marketing and Growth, Mia Vallo, delving into the topic of newsletter acquisition in today’s dynamic digital landscape. The conversation unfolded around the significance of newsletter acquisition, emphasizing its heightened relevance in current times. Additionally, through exploring paid marketing strategies tailored for newsletter growth, our discussion with Axios’ expert provided several valuable insights. Below, find the key highlights and insights from this informational session. View the full webinar here.

Prioritize email acquisition for reader engagement. 

The primary objective of Axios in investing in email acquisition is to foster the expansion of the subscriber base, encompassing both free newsletters, paid subscriptions, and exclusive events. In contrast to many publishers who primarily use newsletters to divert traffic to their websites, newsletters at Axios are seen as the initial point of interaction with readers. In a landscape where websites and social media often act as the initial touchpoints for new endeavors, newsletters are deliberately positioned as the forefront of reader engagement.

Beyond the aim of monetization, dedication to email acquisition revolves around delivering fact-based and unbiased information to readers. In a time inundated with information, Axios aspires to be a trusted source amid the noise, providing a reliable guide for the audience in their pursuit of credible news and insights.

Elevate loyalty through strategic investment in newsletters.

The significance of Axios’s investment in newsletters lies in providing its audience with immediate and curated information directly in their inboxes. In contrast to relying on algorithms and social media, Axios’s newsletters offer a predictable and anticipated source of information. The value is in meeting the audience’s expectations and delivering content directly, making it easily accessible. For Axios, aligning goals is crucial when considering newsletter investment – whether it’s about disseminating content to readers and customers or focusing on increasing engagement. Newsletters serve as a versatile tool for Axios, allowing customization to meet specific objectives and enhance overall audience engagement.

Measurement and benchmarking are key. 

In Axios’s approach to measuring success in subscriber acquisition through paid media, the primary focus is on Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) as the key metric. However, the determination of the target CPA is not arbitrary; it’s intricately linked to the profitability or lifetime value of subscribers. To gauge the effectiveness of email campaigns, Axios also assesses various other metrics, including conversion rate, click-through rate, and social engagement rates.

When it comes to churn and retention, timing and testing go hand-in-hand.  

In the newsletter business, particularly with daily newsletters, determining the optimal time frame for assessing churn and retention is an ongoing process of testing. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, and the key term here is “testing.” Experimentation is crucial to finding the right number of days accurately reflecting the churn or retention period. This timeframe can vary, ranging from 14 days to 90 days or more, and may depend on factors such as the nature of the product.

For example, when dealing with an annual subscription, the evaluation period spans the entire year. The approach at Axios involves playing around with different time frames and adapting the strategy based on the unique characteristics and subscription models of the product in question. Testing allows for the refinement of strategies, ensuring a more accurate understanding of churn and retention dynamics at Axios.

For marketers and publishers looking to grow, here’s some advice: 

Embrace Testing: Whether efforts are organic or involve a small budget for paid media, testing is key. Starting with a modest budget is acceptable because the objective is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach. Conduct tests, learn from them, and use the insights to refine and improve strategies. Small budgets can serve as a foundation to prove the viability of tactics, paving the way for future investment.

Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Approaches: While seeking industry best practices is valuable, it’s crucial to recognize that what works for others may not necessarily be the ideal strategy for your situation. There’s no need to strictly adhere to established best practices; instead, focus on discovering what makes the approach unique and effective for the specific audience and goals at your company.

Know the Audience Inside Out: Invest time and effort in truly understanding your audience. What interests them? Why do they engage with the content? Equally important, why do they disengage or churn? Gaining deep insights into the audience’s preferences and behaviors will guide content strategies and marketing efforts. Ensure that the entire company shares a unified understanding of the target audience to maintain consistency in messaging and engagement.

By incorporating these principles—testing, customization, and audience understanding— a solid foundation for growth can be built, even with limited resources.

Lastly, three final takeaways from the Keywee + Axios Partnership:
1: Emphasizing content is pivotal. As a media company, Axios leverages its extensive content reservoir as a valuable asset for promotion through Keywee. The ability to showcase a diverse range of content significantly enhances engagement and conversion opportunities.

2: Prioritizing testing is paramount for Axios. To maximize conversion chances, Axios adopts a rigorous testing approach, creating multiple versions for each article sent to Keywee. This strategy helps fine-tune and optimize content, ensuring it resonates effectively with the target audience.

3: Maintaining content freshness is key to sustained engagement at Axios. While leading with content is essential, continuous refreshment is equally vital. Customers may not engage with a particular article on the first attempt, but by presenting new and relevant content in subsequent tries, Axios increases the likelihood of capturing their interest.