theSkimm, which you may know as a wildly popular email newsletter, is actually describing itself these days as an “audience company that will become a multiplatform audience company.”
With more than 1.5M active email subscribers – mostly millennial women, but ranging across demographics – they’ve build a brand that appears very counter-intuitive in the world of Snapchat and apps and this is email.
In an interesting and insightful podcast with Re/code’s Peter Kafka, founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg say they never saw themselves as starting an email company, but saw email as the “best marketing tool there was.” The idea is that their friends were short on time, needed to know what they needed to know, and needed to get it quickly. Email might not be the coolest vehicle (and they said they heard time and again how email is dead, usually via an email), but checking email is still the way many people start their day. It’s also easy, and extremely native to the way people already operate. They call it the “one eye open” routine, where you pick up the phone to turn off the alarm, scan emails, and have the Skimm waiting for a quick morning download of the news. It very much follows the idea of being where your audience already is.
Extending beyond email is in their plans. They claim they’ve now established a community and a brand, and by building a connected and defined voice, they’ve been able to push book sales, wine suggestions, and even have live events under way. For a content marketing program, these translate to internal conversions, driven by trust and confidence, not a hard sale.
It’s a great reminder as we constantly look for the next great innovation that email remains viable. But, marketers need to stay steady with voice, with delivering content that is valuable and useful, and focus on emails that drive a user’s “need to know,” not groans of spam.
Lastly, with the tracking available through email, there are so many natural next progressions once a critical mass of subscribers is built. From targeted sub-lists based on interest and consumption habits, to conversion within and beyond the email realm and inside and outside the core brand, it’s important not to let this tried-and-true marketing channel get lost while playing with the shiny new toys on the market.