Introduction

Newsletter growth is a major target for publishers in 2024, and Groupe Sud Ouest is no exception. Over the past 38 years, Groupe Sud Ouest (GSO) has cemented itself into the publishing landscape of France. A media conglomerate covering print and digital as well as television among others, GSO are one of the country’s largest regional publishers with 24 independent brands serving a combined total of around 1.5 million readers. 


Challenge

  • Drive newsletter growth and increase subscribers
  • Scale newsletter offering without additional resources
  • Save time and streamline complex workflow

Approach

  • Use Echobox automation to produce more campaigns with minimal extra effort
  • Employ intelligent AI optimizations to organically grow subscriptions

The Challenge: Growing newsletters with limited resources

GSO wanted to increase subscription revenues through newsletters.

As Aurélien Robert, CRM & Loyalty Manager at GSO told us, “we have a lot of content that is very local in nature. We wanted a way to maximize the reach of this content with as little effort as possible.”

The primary challenge for GSO, however, was scale.

“On the one hand, newsletters with this local content can be of real use to our readers and can create really deep engagement. But this hyperlocal content also imposes limits on the number of readers we can target with any one campaign.” What GSO needed, therefore, was a solution to help them ramp up the volume of campaigns they could run, while being mindful that smaller brands are operating with limited resources.

The Approach: Automate newsletter production and scale

In early 2022, GSO began using Echobox Email to implement automation for their newsletters. Previously they had used Mailchimp across their titles, but this proved too time-consuming.

“With minimal effort we’ve been able to massively scale the impact our newsletters have in both subscriber numbers and engagement. The ROI has been fantastic.”

“Our email strategy would never have worked with Mailchimp,” Robert told us, “it’s just not designed for publishers. The growth in the number of newsletters we offer is really unsustainable with a manual solution that requires selecting articles, inserting images, writing copy, playing with templates and everything else.” By automating the creation of newsletters, GSO is able to scale its newsletter campaigns without committing additional resources to the process.

But automation is just the start. Echobox Email does far more than simply populate and send emails — it is the AI optimizations that really make the difference.

Echobox places multiple kinds of AI-powered optimizations at publishers’ disposal, but three of the most important are:

  • Content Selection Personalisation increases unique click rates by an average of 43%
  • Content Order Personalization increases unique click rates by an average of 11%
  • Send Time Personalization increases unique open rates by an average of 52%

“In 10 months we’ve seen about 30 of the subscriber growth that we achieved in 10 years with our previous email solution. Echobox has definitely been a big part of that.”

When GSO started using Echobox, they were running five newsletter campaigns per month. Within 10 months, the number of campaigns had more than doubled to 12. The number of individual editions, meanwhile, had tripled in the same period. “Echobox has really helped us increase the number of newsletters we can offer,” said Robert. “With minimal effort we’ve been able to massively scale the impact our newsletters have in both subscriber numbers and
engagement. The ROI has been fantastic.”

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The Results: Incredible newsletter growth

The results that GSO have achieved with Echobox have been extraordinary.

“Our subscriber targets are ambitious,” said Robert, “but even then, we were surprised with just how effective Echobox was in helping us achieve them. One of our local newsletters, Près de chez moi, Bordeaux, has gone from zero to over 14,000 subscribers in the space of nine months. In 10 months we’ve seen about 30 of the subscriber growth that we achieved in 10 years with our previous email solution. Echobox has definitely been a big part of that.”

“For any publisher with ambitious growth targets, Echobox is a great solution. It’s smart, simple and saves us huge amounts of time every single day.”

A graph showing the huge increase in subscriber growth Groupe Sud Ouest experienced while using Echobox Email to send their newsletters. Groupe Sud Ouest saw subscribers increase almost 400% in less than a year.

In total, GSO grew subscriptions by almost 400% in only 10 months with Echobox, while reducing the time teams spent on managing emails by around 80%.

Conclusion

GSO’s implementation of Echobox Email over the last few years has proven enormously fruitful, and they have plans to further increase the number of newsletters they send with Echobox Email by around 50% over the coming year.

Ultimately this success has two components: first, the ability to dramatically increase the number of newsletters that they are now able to send with little extra effort with automation. And second, the ability to organically grow a strong subscriber base within a short period of time through AI optimization.

And would GSO recommend Echobox to other publishers? “Absolutely,” said Robert. “For any publisher with ambitious growth targets, Echobox is a great solution. It’s smart, simple and saves us huge amounts of time every single day.”

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