Email marketing? They gotta read it

Probably two to three years ago, I was talking to a buddy who owned a business and he was pretty negative on email marketing.

Why wouldn’t he be. He had a list of about 17,000 email addresses and only about 200 would be opened at any given time.  That’s just a smidge over a one-percent open rate.

At those rates, what’s the point, right?

Why I like email marketing

Recently at AntiochTenn.comnewsletterstory, we’ve increased our focus on email marketing. There are three reasons I like the approach:

  1. I have total control over the message.
  2. Doesn’t matter what Facebook does.
  3. Doesn’t matter what Google does.

We use MailChimp, and according to the email service, the “media and publishing” category has a 17 percent open rate and a 3.2 percent click rate as an industry average.

Our newsletter shatters those numbers with a 47.3 percent open rate and a 13.3 percent click rate.

So, just what is it we’re doing differently? I think there are four key factors in our success.

Relevant content is at the core of our email newsletter. is all about the Antioch, Tennessee community, which comprises of just one zip code. If it didn’t happen in Antioch or to someone from Antioch, it ain’t going in the newsletter. Subscribers have no doubt what they’re getting. We’re also not afraid to link to content from organizations other than ours.

We send it once a week. A lot of people think this isn’t often enough, but given that their open rates are far lower than mine, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t know what the magic number is, but if a newsletter comes too often, it is easy to ignore. Too seldom, you overlook it. If you find the right frequency, readers will anticipate it and look forward to it.

The frequency allows the articles to be personally curated. A lot of news email blasts are assembled automatically. A program plugs in the links and the newsletter is sent. Our email newsletters are hand-assembled, as it were, with a lot of thought and planning. I think (or hope) that makes them more appealing than the auto-generated variety.

We scrub aggressively. If we notice someone doesn’t ever open the newsletter, we scrub ’em. Many of these, I notice, are people who sign up as part of some contest, or at a booth at a community event. It reflects their interest is more in the prize or the contest than the newsletter, and I’d rather not clog their email. Plus, it keeps our list nice and pristine.

While there are plenty of other factors that have an influence on our success, I’ve noticed that regardless of how much our newsletter grows and how we add subscribers, the open rate hovers very close to 50 percent and the click rate is steady at four times the industry average.

Those are numbers I can live with.

Clay Morgan is the president of Morgan Publishing. His email is and you can follow him on Twitter.



Of enemies and friends

A while back, I wrote on LinkedIn about some surprising things and lessons learned after six months running a hyper local news site.

There was one lesson that generated several emails. It was that Facebook is the true competitor for hyper local news sites. I thought I’d expand on the idea.

The good stuff

Facebook is important to my site and probably any news publisher out there would agree.

LikeIt accounts for the majority of my traffic referrals, according to Google Analytics. During the last 3 months, social accounted for about 65 percent of my total traffic, and the majority of that – 87.9% – was Facebook.

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Public relations frustrations

Last week, in the course of reporting the news for, I encountered two public relations experiences that probably illustrate most of the frustration journalists have with PR professionals.

file000349823764The first came during efforts to report that the local Office Depot store would be closing in May.

When I contacted the corporate office, I was directed to the public relations staff who promptly said they could not confirm the store’s closure. Here we go.

I then informed them that that’s OK, the store employees had confirmed the closing with me.

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The challenge of SEO in 2015

Search engine optimization is critically important and it is becoming harder and harder to rank high in Google search.

logo_420_color_2xSo how can you get yourself focused and improve you search engine results? The challenge, in my mind, is through local search optimization.

With our local digital news site,, we have a huge challenge. That challenge is the very keywords people are going to use to find our site.

In addition to being a large community in Nashville, Antioch is also a city of more than 100,000 in California. It has its own television stations and daily newspaper. Continue reading

Still bullish on print

Note: This article originally appeared as a post on Clay Morgan’s LinkedIn Profile.

I read an article recently on StreetFight Magazine’s website, In the Gold Age of News Media. It was a good piece by Josh Fenton, who is the co-founder of Golocal24, a company focused on local news in various markets.

In the article, which I mostly agree with, there was one point that I found a little perplexing, “Newspapers are already dead — it’s just that no one told them to stop printing. Wait until the retailers find out and pull their Sunday inserts.”

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Format blues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been working on a self-published anthology of crime fiction, some of which has been previously published.

The problem? Some of the places they published are out of business and my electronic versions are long-gone. I’ve been doing a lot of typing.

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The return and short fiction

I started writing fiction when I was about 13 years old.

IMG_0030To this day, I remember a story I’d written. It was a vampire story (in hindsight I should’ve stuck with those!), and admittedly not very good. Still, at all of 13 or 14-years-old, I sent it to the magazine Amazing Stories.

I received a deserved rejection, but with it was a detailed, specific, four-page critique from the editor. It was the first time someone I did not know took my writing seriously and it fed me for years.

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