As digital newspapers and magazines switch to the Web–especially using mobile apps–publishers must change mobile media copywriting strategies. This includes New York Times digital and mobile publications.
I was an early adopter of the New York Times iPad version. But I found its iOS app inferior to the Wall Street Journal‘s which has successfully merged written content and multimedia into a dynamic mobile application.
The Times sent me an email yesterday, poorly written by a copywriter, who demonstrates he doesn’t understand mobile media marketing strategies.
Here’s the email’s original copy in blue with my suggestions in red.
Dear NYTimes.com Reader (Brian)
Our records indicate (We’re very sorry you recently cancelled your subscription and wonder if you would share your views on the paper ) that you recently cancelled your Times Digital Subscription. When your subscription ends, please be advised (unfortunately you won’t have access to…) that you’ll no longer have unlimited access to NYTimes.com and our NYTimes apps. (Gap: Give me reasons to re-subscribe.)
As a valued Times reader (since you’ve been a long-time subscriber…) we invite you to resubscribe and enjoy unlimited access once again at an exclusive rate of 50% off for 12 weeks. (This offer is available only to Times readers like you, who were among the first Digital Subscribers.
(KILL) Reactivate your subscription and get (additional new, useful features to the iPad edition and improved the formatting for easy reading.). Unlimited access to all the award-winning articles, breaking news, videos and more. Keep up with the most honored news organization in the world (accurate, timely, insightful news from a top news organization) with two additional Pulitzer Prizes this year, The Times now has an unsurpassed total of 106.
Three ways to enjoy The Times, at home and on the go. All options include unlimited access to NYTimes.com from your computer — and from there, you can select options that give you access to all sections of our smartphone and tablet apps. [Jumping the gun, plus they need to explain the pricing differences; for example, the iPad $20 per month plan doesn't include accessing the paper with an iPhone.]0
Click here to restart your subscription and save 50%. (We want to make sure you benefit the most from the New York Times, whether you read it on your iPhone, iPad or online.) In fact, we’ll give you a substantial discount on the Times for three months at 50% off if you complete a short survey.
Once again, we appreciate your business. Click here to take the survey and, if you wish, re-subscribe at 50% off.
Thanks for your interest in the Times. We look forward to providing excellent new, information, sports, entertainment and more again.
Mobile Media Copywriter for Hire
Notice that the NY Times email makes it seem that I made a mistake canceling. The email copy focuses on the Times–not me. Like print newspapers and magazines in the past, the publisher thinks that I foolishly cancelled my subscription due to price alone. And that by badgering me with lots direct mail in the past–email now, I’ll give in.
Not true. Although price was a reason, I mainly cancelled due to a poorly designed digital product that is inferior to the Wall Street Journal’s app.
The copy also sounds stilted, giving the impression that the Times hasn’t changed at all.
- “Dear New York Times Reader” conflicts with the paper’s new emphasis on smartphone, iPad and computer delivery of its content. Call me Brian and ditch “our records show.” Talk to me as a person.
- “Please be advised” reminds me of a bank letter, usually with bad news (ex. “Pleased be advised that we’ve lowered your credit line”).
- “As a valued Times subscriber” is a trite customer service phrase that has yet to leave the English language. TELL ME how much you like me and why we should consider doing business together.
- Then there’s a logical gap in the letter from features to close (…”We invite you to re-subscribe.”) Why? The Times hasn’t given me any reasons to re-subscribe except a discount for three months and they still don’t know why I cancelled.
- “Most honored news organization in the world.” I don’t dispute that the New York Times is an excellent paper, but they’ll likely persuade me more by showing me the benefits of reading the paper.
- “Select options that give you access...” For some reason, the Times decided to charge more for iPad than iPhone access, because the Journal allows access from any device at the same $17 a month. To avoid customer problems, the email should list the pricing again.
- “We give you three ways to enjoy…” Offer the discount AFTER customers have taken the survey,when customers may feel more positive about re-subscribing.
As more nimble, younger publications go digital, traditional print media need to assess reader expectations. Otherwise, they fall victim to old media publishing, an industry in decline.