Success stories
March 17, 2021

How Independent Media Merged Seven Websites’ Databases and Reduced Mailings Unsubscribe Rate

Independent Media — a media holding company and publishing house, has long been a trendsetter on the fashion and lifestyle magazine market. Independent Media (IM) is working to digitize its business, and in particular, email marketing is among its priorities.

Mindbox is involved in seven of IM’s international brands: Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Grazia, Harper’s Bazaar, Popular Mechanics, and the Robb Report.

Each brand sends mailings to their subscribers 2–5 times a week. To properly collect information from messages on subscribers, IM was looking for a CRM system that would analyze preferences and provide tools to personalize mailings.

IM expected a CRM system that could provide:

  • a unified profile for every subscriber that would only differ in terms of their interests and the magazines they read;
  • a clean, valid, and unified database for all IM’s brand projects;
  • automated and systematized emails;
  • transparent analytics in order to track subscribers’ reactions to various mailings.

After searching, IM opted for Mindbox to arrange its mailings and determine how they could influence readers.

Remarkably, throughout the collaboration, the unsubscribe rate dropped by over 70% on Cosmo.ru, Goodhouse.ru, Esquire.ru, and Popmech.ru websites.

Let us share with you our process.

Every Subscriber’s Info Was Consolidated into One, Unified Marketing Platform

IM started to use Mindbox’s platform in February. Before that, all the data about the company’s subscribers — over several hundred thousand people — had been stored in a custom CRM system that had limited technical and analytical functionality.

To solve these problems, the Mindbox team integrated the platform with IM’s brand websites. Then, all their subscribers’ recorded information was uploaded into Mindbox, which in effect:

  • merged all duplicated subscribers into one, unified profile;
  • actualized the existing data to better personalize mailings;
  • tested the validity of email addresses.

The outcome was an up-to-date database containing one, unified profile for every customer.

All the data from IM’s subscribed online readers is stored on Mindbox’s platform. The information from each IM brand is collected and analyzed separately, but all the data is stored in one place. This helps to then track and pinpoint overlapping customer particulars.

We Launched Mailings Where Each Subscriber Receives Them at an Individually Selected Regular Occurrence

As Mindbox’s system collected data, IM continued sending mailings, all with the same regularity, but to the now-consolidated customer base. In addition, IM continued collecting data to better examine the mailing’ efficiency. For example, by March, the unsubscribe rate fell to an unexpected 0.6%.

However, one analysis proved that frequent mailings negatively affect subscribers’ attitudes; people unsubscribe, the base shrinks, and the number of visits to the websites decrease.

Therefore, it was necessary to somehow reduce the number of mailings to avoid a decrease in website return visits. This did not appear as an option as IM associated its acquired customer traffic with its targeted mailings. An alternative suggestion was to apply a unique algorithm to control the Mailing Frequency for IM’s brands that had a larger subscriber base.

The idea behind the algorithm was to send every reader as many emails as they were prepared to read.

Mindbox’s platform system not only controls the frequency of mailings, but also analyzes how a subscriber has reacted to previous emails; if they open their emails and then visit the website. With the frequency-based algorithm in place, subscribers now receive mailings only if they are interested.

This frequency control takes into consideration subscribers’ engagement in all IM’s brand mailings and websites. For example, if the system notices that a Cosmo subscriber has stopped opening their emails, it takes that into account and then correspondingly reduces the emailing frequency of other magazines to which the client has a subscription.

IM & Mindbox Collaboration: the Results Achieved From February to July, 2018

After Mindbox activated the Mailing Frequency Control algorithm, IM’s main expectation was a reduction in the unsubscribe rate, but without experiencing any losses in the number of website visits.

In May, 2018, the Mindbox team launched the algorithm for Cosmo.ru subscribers, and in June, it was implemented on other websites. By July, its effect had already reached its peak, dramatically reducing the unsubscribe rate.

On average, the unsubscribe rate dropped by more than 70%.

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The diagrams demonstrate the relative unsubscribe rate level for four of IM’s magazines.Between the four, the statistical tendency was the same — the unsubscribe rate was reduced by 70% following the algorithm’s launch
  • The unsubscribe rate decreased by 70% among the cosmo.ru subscribers (target audience: girls aged 18–35).
  • The unsubscribe rate decreased by 73% among the goodhouse.ru subscribers (target audience: women aged 30–45).
  • The unsubscribe rate decreased by 74% among the esquire.ru subscribers (target audience: men aged 25–44).
  • The unsubscribe rate decreased by 76% among the popmech.ru subscribers (target audience: men aged 30–44).

The selected website segment represented a valid general audience, varying in gender, age, interests and backgrounds.

There were additional positive statistical indicators that the new mailings were effective.

Email open and click rates increased:

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The open rate (OR) and the click rate (CR) dramatically increased for all four magazines
  • Cosmo.ru: OR increased by 50%, CR—by 53%.
  • Goodhouse.ru: OR increased by 27%, CR—by 23%.
  • Esquire.ru: OR increased by 28%, CR—by 29%.
  • Popmech.ru: OR increased by 31%, CR—by 33%.

The number of the sent emails decreased:

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Since the launch of the algorithm, IM started sending fewer emails to the individual reader bases of each brand
  • To cosmo.ru—by 38%.
  • To goodhouse.ru—by 38%.
  • To esquire.ru—by 27%.
  • To popmech.ru—by 23%.

The monthly coverage either remained the same or increased:

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The number of sent emails was reduced. At the same time, the coverage—the number of people who read emails over a given period—remained the same or increased
  • The cosmo.ru coverage rose by 25%.
  • The goodhouse.ru coverage remained the same.
  • The esquire.ru coverage rose by 8%.
  • The popmech.ru coverage rose by 10%.

Even though IM sends emails less frequently, thanks to the algorithm, more people are reading their emails and visiting the website. This is because they are getting messages at a personal comfortable rate. So the emails they receive are not treated like spam or junk mail, but instead as a welcomed update that keeps them in the loop. Hence, the higher open and click rates.

The Algorithm Lightened the Message Load on Individuals, Solving the Problem of the Shrinking Customer Base while Creating Extra Value

As to be expected, Mindbox’s clients are wary of reducing the number of communications with their customers. The assumed consequence is that there would be a decrease in channel efficiency. However, the IM case proves that Mindbox’s client, Independent Media, not only arrested the rate of unsubscribers, but also gained extra value.

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For example, since IM hired Mindbox, cosmo.ru email channel users have increased by 40%. The higher open rate contributed to the increase of website visits

Independent Media Testimonial

Within our company, the interests of our audience always prevail. The previous CRM didn’t exactly correspond to our high communication standards. That’s why it was decided to replace the custom CRM with a more flexible system that would enhance our technical and analytical capabilities.

We opted for Mindbox, and that proved to be very successful. When it comes to email marketing, IM’s development tasks go in unison with its partners’ views.

So far, Mindbox has helped us solve the unsubscribe optimization task, increase the number of visits to our brands’ websites, and raise OR and CR. At the same time, we continue collecting information about our subscribers’ interests, which enhances our knowledge about our audience and allows us to personalize messages as much as possible.

Anastasia Abramova

Anastasia Abramova, LOYALTY PROGRAM MANAGER Independent Media