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Vox In Your Inbox: Vox Sentences gets personal with email marketing

Editor's Note: This post is part of a series of instructional and case studies designed to synthesize some of the tactics that the Marketing and Communications team, and other Vox Media departments, utilize or experiment with to promote new initiatives.

With constant access to email through our phones, tablets, and computers and now even clothing accessories (Apple Watch, anyone?), your inbox is easily accessible almost anywhere at any time and at your convenience. This makes email personal — it is a direct line to you. As Seth Godin, author of the daily Marketing Newsletter Typepad reminds us: "the best way to engage your audience is by earning the privilege to contact them."

During a recent marketing campaign around the launch of Vox Media's channels on Apple News, we turned to Vox.com's daily email newsletter, Vox Sentences, as a key marketing lever for raising awareness among Vox's devoted audience base and converting that awareness into adoption.

Combining the editorial curation of Vox Sentence by co-authors Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind with audience data and user experience metrics from Agnes Mazur, Vox.com's Audience Development Manager, Vox Sentences has secured a highly engaged audience base. "We want Sentences to provide a service that is more than just a list of links. We want our readers to come away from email knowing a bit more about an issue and having the best resource to do a deep dive on something that interests them," says Mazur.

In the case of Vox.com's Apple News channel, the goal was to capitalize on the wild success of Vox Sentences, position Apple News as a native and utilitarian extension of Vox.com's existing content strategy, and convert a large percentage of the subscriber base to Apple News followers.

One of the fun sides to email marketing is the getting the targeting down and optimizing for conversion. Once you have developed a substantial audience base of email subscribers, you have the ability to utilize those emails lists to benefit other goals and initiatives. To ensure a high click through rate and a low "unsubscribe" rate, we created a custom email list to send out our standalone feature Vox Apple News promotional email. Mazur was able to curate an email list that had the widest reach while remaining targeted, creating custom email list that excluded all readers opening the emailer using non-Apple mobile products as Apple News is only available on iOS and OSX devices. As part of our strategy we also kept audience profiles of gmail and desktop users on our list to widen the reach, and with the thought that the audience segment might consume Sentences on a their laptop, but have Apples News on another device. Besides the obvious reason of targeting only Apple product users, the strategy was in part to help preserve the trust of the valuable Vox Sentences audience. The custom targeting strategy resulted in a 50% growth in click through rates compared to Vox Sentences average CTR.

Finally, we also chose a design format that closely resembled the Vox Sentences style guide as—it is important that we keep the design and essence of the Vox Sentences product that had made it the success it is today. In the end we were able to deliver a highly effective email campaign around a new marketing initiative, while maintaining the editorial integrity of the Vox Sentences newsletter.

Subscribe to Vox Sentences to catch up on the news of the day: vox.com/newsletters