Emily Bratcher is a contributing editor at Associations Now.
When the Edison Electric Institute launched its Energy Talk e-newsletter, it casted a wider net of readers, which has brought in major returns.
When the Edison Electric Institute reached out to its members in 2013 asking them to complete a survey about its magazine Electric Perspectives, the findings were illuminating—and eventually led to a big bump in revenue.
“One of the things that we discovered is that our members wanted more information from us,” says Clare James Johnson, director of stakeholder communications at EEI. “And they really liked receiving the magazine in print. They didn’t want that to change, but they wanted to receive more information and they were open to receiving that other information digitally.”
Meanwhile, print revenues at EEI were taking a dip. But interestingly enough, the YGS Group, EEI’s ad sales partner, found in conversations with advertisers that many of them wanted the same things members wanted. Advertisers were interested in putting their ad dollars toward digital, or at least a combination of digital and print. But Electric Perspectives didn’t have a digital property to offer, except for a bare-bones page on EEI’s website, where bimonthly magazine content was posted.
Bolstered by these findings, in October 2014 EEI launched Energy Talk, a monthly digital newsletter that shares the stories of EEI's member companies and offers analysis on trends and news in electricity that a bimonthly magazine, with its long production lead times, couldn’t do. But perhaps one of the most interesting characteristics of Energy Talk is its subscriber list.
We've had very few unsubscribe requests, and we receive new requests to be subscribed each week.—Claire James Johnson, Edison Electric Institute
Everyone who received Electric Perspectives automatically was subscribed to Energy Talk, but Johnson sensed an opportunity to engage a wider audience. She asked colleagues in other EEI departments how the newsletter could add value for their audiences: Were there other people who were not necessarily members who might benefit from receiving it?
For some, the answer was yes, and EEI compiled a broad list of subscribers that far exceeded its magazine distribution, including Capitol Hill staffers, media, state groups, technology partners, and associate members. “And so far, it’s been very successful. We’ve had very few unsubscribe requests, and we receive new requests to be subscribed each week,” says Johnson. “So far, so good.”
In fact, Energy Talk has been such a hit that EEI is planning to roll out a new series of newsletters called Energy Talk in Depth, based on important industry themes like the value of smarter energy infrastructure and cybersecurity.
But subscribers aren't the only ones enthusiastic about Energy Talk; advertisers are practically lining up for spots. On an annual basis, the newsletter brings in about 15 percent of EEI’s publications revenue, Johnson says.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Digital Spark."]