The challenges are many when launching a new local, nonprofit news outlet, especially in the current newspaper industry climate. Deciding to be a digital-only news source with a hard registration wall meant the Springfield (Missouri) Daily Citizen had to rely heavily on various technologies to manage email registration and subscriptions.
"Our board was committed very early in our planning process to be a subscriber model. Once we decided that, we had two choices — build the technology to manage subscriptions ourselves or find a vendor. Because of the speed at which we were trying to launch, we had no interest in building it ourselves," David Stoeffler, president and CEO, said.
Judi Kamien was selected as chief development officer based on her more than 30 years of assisting nonprofits with advancing their missions and business models utilizing tech solutions.
"We needed a technology vendor to understand our business model and customize applications for our market. Partnering with BlueLena was the solution. The Daily Citizen wouldn't be where it is today without BlueLena's unique combination of news industry experience and thorough understanding of the technology needs of a local news outlet," Judi Kamien, chief development officer, said.
"BlueLena's intimate knowledge of subscription best practices allowed us to rapidly evolve our products towards launch and to sign up paying subscribers on our very first day out of the gate — even though we did not institute a paywall until a few months later. Working with BlueLena was like a crash course in news-related tech, which was important to me because this was my first news gig."
The path to the Daily Citizen's partnership with BlueLena started when the paper decided to use the Newspack platform because its mission is to help small and medium-sized news organizations.
"As a digital-only publication, we use 13 platforms, some of which we manage. BlueLena manages the entire revenue side, or our earned income, including ActiveCampaign for email and CRM and PICO as the registration and subscription management platform," Kamien said.
The Springfield Daily Citizen is just one of the hundreds of news organizations and publishers BlueLena serves with its two comprehensive modules (BlueLena CRM and BlueLena CXA) housed within its unified marketing automation platform.
Because BlueLena knows the newspaper industry, its CRM isn't just a sales tool but also is specifically designed for news outlets targeting sponsorships and fundraising revenue, which is critical for the Daily Citizen as a nonprofit organization.
With BlueLena CRM, newspapers can create complete contact and account databases. The Deals feature allows users to include proposals and contracts to contacts and accounts and note any deal's stage, outcome and value. BlueLena's optional data append services are exactly what nonprofit news outlets need. They can include in-depth lifestyle and other demographic data that fully identify sponsors, donors and other fundraising sources.
BlueLena CXA is a complete digital marketing and revenue management platform powered by ActiveCampaign. The user-friendly dashboard has all email marketing tools to create and maintain proactive campaigns, including broadcast emails, triggered emails, targeted emails, email autoresponders, transactional emails and scheduled emails.
With consumers demanding better personalization from the companies and media in which they engage, BlueLena CXA allows for highly targeted, personalized emails to strengthen engagement and generate more interest in news content which maximizes monetization.
Small and medium-sized news organizations operate with smaller staffs, and management must wear multiple hats. With the automation feature of BlueLena CXA, news outlets can spend more of their time reporting and publishing essential news and less time managing email campaigns and customer journeys.
"The Daily Citizen engaged BlueLena to implement its audience management technology, to develop its newsletter strategy, and to help craft their messaging, membership program and value proposition. BlueLena also designed customer journeys that take readers deeper into the relationship with the newsroom while encouraging membership growth to support its mission," said Daniel Williams, BlueLena co-founder and CEO.
As her first experience in the newspaper industry, Kamien found Ned Berke, BlueLena's chief strategy officer, was an invaluable source.
"BlueLena's customer service is second to none. Fifteen minutes with Ned is the equivalent of two hours with anyone else. He and the entire BlueLena team is enormously effective at triaging our customer issues and helping us find effective solutions that work well with our very niche customers," Kamien said.
"I just wanted to say thank you for making this small publisher's work in the audience development arena so much more bearable. I certainly wish every vendor we worked with was as patient, creative and responsive. Your team is phenomenal."
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