Commentary

How 'Dallas Morning News' Boosts Views With Alerts

Publishers seeking to drive website visits may want to consider browser push notifications that alert readers to updates.

The Dallas Morning News, a 178-year-old newspaper that counts about 2.5 million unique visitors a month, boosted overall views and added hundreds of digital subscriptions this year with push notifications.

Readers can opt in to receive the news alerts on desktop computers and some models of smartphones.

Through trial and error, the DMN has honed its strategy to personalize the notifications and to avoid overwhelming readers, according to Mark Francescutti, director of digital marketing operations and engagement, and Nicole Stockdale, director of digital strategy at the newspaper.

“The push strategy has performed far above our expectations," they write on Better News, a digital hub that aims to highlight the best ideas in the publishing business. "We now have more than 800,000 users subscribed to pushes.”

The alerts appear on desktop computers and mobile phones that run on Android -- Apple's iOS doesn't have browser-based push notifications on iPhones or iPads. The newspaper works with Pushly, a push-notification platform that can be integrated with a publisher's website.

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Pushly also helps to segment audiences based on ZIP codes, reading habits and sign-ups to specific alerts. Publishers can customize the alerts to reach readers who are following a specific story -- instead of blanketing everyone with intrusive pop-ups more likely to annoy readers.

The notifications help drive 4% of the DMN's overall views and 11% of returning views; they and have helped to more than double return visitors from a year earlier.

Like many publishers, the DMN's top goal is to drive subscriptions. Reader revenue has become a crucial source of income for news outlets coping with declining ad and classified sales. A push-notification strategy may help publishers to engage their most loyal readers, while delivering a service that other media outlets can't match.

 

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