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Email marketing program outpaces Facebook at indieWire

An online news source in the independent film industry gives a lead role to email in its marketing strategy and found it delivers a clear advantage over social channels with the measurable results it provides.

Leave it to a company in the movie business to understand that while something might look dead, it isn’t.

At indieWire,  an online news source for the independent film industry, email is not only alive and well as a marketing tool but it has scored a lead role in its marketing strategy because of the clear ROI it delivers through its email marketing programs.

“No one has really figured out how to pinpoint what ROI is for Facebook and Twitter,’’ said Jeff Douglas, senior product manager at indieWire. “With email, we have a clear return on our investment.”

IndieWire uses social channels to round out its marketing efforts and has found them effective for general branding and philanthropic campaigns. But when it concerns core marketing initiatives, the company said email is the vehicle of choice.

The New York-based company installed email marketing software from iContact Corp. in August 2010 and has since boosted its subscriber base by 30% to 50,000 members, Douglas said. The goal is to double the size of the subscriber list in the next 12 months, he added.   

The company distributes emails to subscribers to highlight content it produces for its indieWire site, and advertisers pay for ad placement within the emails. IndieWire provides news, blogs and information about the independent film community. It runs coverage of film industry events, such the Cannes Film Festival and posts blogs from such industry notables as Peter Bogdanovich, director of the 1970s classic The Last Picture Show. Founded 15 years ago, the company was purchased in 2009 by SnagFilms, a Web provider of free documentary films.

The company licenses iContact for $1,500 a month and has “made that money back many times over,’’ Douglas said.

While Douglas could not reveal the exact boost in advertising dollars, he said it has increased because “advertisers want to reach the audience via email.’’

“They would rather have their movie promotions in someone’s inbox than in a banner ad’’ on a social channel, Douglas added.

The company is distributing about a million emails a month. 

Meanwhile, the company is engaging on social channels. For example, this weekend it will launch a Memorial Day social media campaign in conjunction with SnagFilms in which it will donate $1 for each “like” it receives up to $10,000 to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization.

While this type of campaign generates good will, it doesn’t deliver the raw numbers an email campaign can provide. Douglas noted indieWire may end up with 10,000 likes by the end of Memorial Day, but that doesn’t translate to 10,000 subscribers opting into indieWire’s services.

Because indieWire has been able to drum up so many new email subscribers, Douglas said the company intends to increase the number of different email marketing products it distributes from 15 to upwards of 50.

The idea would be to drill down further to the specific information people want and provide for more targeted marketing opportunities. Some subscribers might not care to get a daily digest of news but instead only want to be alerted to movie reviews. Or, in some cases they might only want information related to a specific movie, such as Bridesmaids, Douglas said.




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