Publishers Say Email is the Top Revenue-Driving Tech in 2017

Good old email; turns out it’s still incredibly valuable to publishers in terms of driving revenue.

As Ellen Harvey explains in Publishing Executive, “34% of publishers indicated that email marketing drove substantial revenue for their businesses in 2017, the most of any technology listed in the report.”


Image source: Publishing Executive

The data comes from Publishing Exec’s Special Report on Technology and Adoption Strategies in Publishing.

Why is email so powerful? According to the report, it’s due to the unique identifier and direct line it offers between the publisher and the consumer.

“Email then becomes the lynchpin to track reader behavior across platforms and build a user profile from those insights, and then provide more targeted subscription offers and event invites, develop lead generation campaigns for clients, and deliver personalized content,” Harvey explains.

What I find really interesting about the rest of the numbers is how flat the results are. Programmatic advertising, audience analytics and content analytics all came in at 15%. Just one percentage point above that are lead generation and e-commerce tech. CRMs were just 3 percentage points higher, at 19%, but if you look at that from the other direction, they came rank as the third most important.

What I’m seeing here is a range of technology, being implemented by different publishers in different ways, with varying results – and that’s exactly what I’d expect to see given the fact that publishing revenue strategies themselves are across the board.

Ad serving continues to be important, ranked in the #2 spot and earning a 24% share in terms of importance – although some caution is required here.

“It’s unlikely that online advertising revenue will significantly decline for publishers any time soon, but some significant browser changes coming to Chrome and Safari may affect publishers’ digital advertising strategies,” Harvey explains. Between Apple locking down the cookie jar and the continued rise in ad blocking, this critical revenue stream could be in jeopardy.

A few tech strategies – all “trending” at least in theory – are noticeably absent from the list.

“There’s been plenty of hype around the ‘pivot to video,’ the explosion of podcasts, and the future dominance of virtual reality,” Harvey notes.  “Despite the buzz, all three of those technologies ranked low on the list of revenue-driving solutions. Only 1.6% of publishers indicated podcasts drove significant revenue for their business in 2017. Video captured slightly more at 8%. No publishers indicated revenue growth from virtual reality.”

What’s next for your tech publishing strategy? The answers are as varied as the market itself – but just maybe you want to take another look at your email strategy; at least that seems to be a fairly consistent driver for most publishers.