CN#17. International news meets self-care and online shopping in Daily Skimm


FREQUENCY: Daily Mon-Fri, plus weekend round-up

TYPE: Consumer, women

PURPOSE: News for professional women, shopping





SUBJECT LINE: Daily Skimm: That bear's worth fourteen million

DESIGN: Powder blue, modern sans serif font, no emojis

A different take on editorial priorities

Editorial priorities are pretty clear from the get-go. First thing you’ll see is a link to a shopping site. “We help you solve everyday problems with smart products — including finding the best gifts for every occasion.”

If you’ve missed your friend’s birthday and are desperate to make amends The Daily Skimm is right there meeting a user need before anything else.

Next it’s time for reflection with a quote of the day, curated from a Newsweek article, and having the effect of pacing the newsletter.

You've opened it, got to the second item, and rather than diving straight into the fast-paced and let’s face it, rather stressful global news, it’s a time to pause for breath.

The “Top Story” is third in the pecking order, and why not? Being smart doesn’t necessarily mean having global news top of your agenda.

Particularly as it’s less important than getting your friend’s birthday present and your mindset sorted.

Which is just as well, because the global news today is pretty boring - an update on the Northern Ireland situation.

The copy reflects this, keeping the news simple and accessible, so that the reader knows just the “need to know”.

If you feel it might be a talking point in the office you can read the outline under the headings of “What’s this about?”, “Tell me more”, and “Are people happy?”

The article is curated from Reuters, The BBC, The Guardian and a previous Skimm article.

You could just read the Skimm’s pithy four-line summary at the end, or if you want to find out more there are further links to background articles on BBC, CNN and The New York Times (paywall).

What follows are three curated news pieces in declining seriousness/global significance: a US government crackdown on the exploitation of children, a change in the legal status of Disney’s Florida resorts, and a warning that sweeteners may be carcinogenic.

Two single light-hearted curated links go to Variety magazine about a third drama series and an astronomy story from The Guardian. Then it’s back to shopping and 4 sponsored posts.

Two sales are on, for cooking sauces and vibrators (I'm not saying anything), then it’s the main attraction, four product links under the heading “Skimm Picks”. These are recommendations “to help you live a smarter life” with a credit card, joggers, skin cream, and a book summary app.

For the last three items, discounts have been negotiated for readers.

Then there’s even more discounts for 17 branded products covering food, beauty, health and retail.

Who doesn’t like a good promo code?

To finish on an engaging note, the last section is about the readers and theSkimm’s commitment to them - the Skimm’rs. It’s about individual achievements, birthdays, community involvement.

It’s a great way to prove that this newsletter is for and about you.

Multi-media business model

From one newsletter skimming the news to make life easier, theSkimm now has a stable of sector specific newsletters.

As well as the daily issue every morning except Sundays, there’s a lifestyle one on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and personal finance on Fridays.

The franchise has broadened still with two podcasts and an app, although there’s some evidence that these have not matched the commercial success of the newsletters.

They are all vehicles for native advertising and affiliate sales to 25-40 year-old professional women, and within that audience the strategy has been to segment into individual subject areas.

Marketing: important social media channels

theSkimm has 1.25m followers on Facebook, linking to the newsletter sign-up page and a prime source for new sign-ups. The same is probably true of Instagram where the brand has 787,000 followers.

Illustrating the importance of always trying to pick up “pass-along” readers, it’s worth noting that sharing tools to Facebook, Twitter and email are repeated 3 times in the email.

Comment: A model for newsletter success

Elevator newsletter is aimed at millennial men and usually leads with a picture of a female model. The Daily Skimm newsletter is aimed at millennial women and usually leads with a link to a shopping site.

Make of those facts what you will. My take is that modern newsletters are unpretentious and honest about giving their readers exactly what they want.

So it’s no surprise that there’s a link to a 50% off deal on vibrators in this issue. Or that there’s a link that takes you solely to discount codes for shopping. Or that when it comes to delivering the news, there are many choices for the reader to read a little, a medium amount, or a lot.

There’s an emphasis on explanation, mixing serious and frivolous and avoiding long-windedness. The editors seem constantly on edge, worrying about the fragility of their readers’ attention, and so they should be. It's a fragile commodity.

As one of the first curated newsletters, along with The Hustle and Morning Brew, theSkimm formula is a role model.

Growth may have slowed or even stalled with the advertising recession but the fundamental approach is enduring. For each respective audience it’s ultimately the same: “No time? Live smarter. We’ll help you.”

theSkimm has tried to heighten engagement further by campaigning. For example, by encouraging readers to tag (nag?) brands, they have successfully prompted some leading names to publicly disclose their family leave policies.

Companies including Pinterest, Estée Lauder, Motherly, and Pipette decided it was better to respond than ignore this important audience.

But there are risks. Campaigning didn’t fit comfortably with theSkimm's need to layoff staff during the pandemic and accusations were made that pregnant women were the first to be eliminated during cuts of up to 40% of the workforce.

I’m not sure about the corporate speak that says theSkimm has become trusted by women by “seamlessly integrating into their existing routines” and “fundamentally changing the way they consume news and make decisions”.

If it means giving millennial women what they want, they’re on it.

Read the full newsletter here

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