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How The Daily Wins At Relationship Marketing

From the New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily. 

If you’re anything like me, almost all your working world knowledge is cultivated on a 45-minute morning commute to work listening to The Daily. The Daily is a NY Times-produced podcast that tackles current events 5 days a week. The Daily team pumps out deep-dive discussions into the political sphere, international news, and niche topics you never knew you needed to know. 

Sitting in traffic, we explore the political ideologies of presidential candidates. We analyze the meaning behind words of political leaders. We grieve with the victims and survivors of catastrophes. All of these topics evoke strong emotions and conscious thought, which deeply connects us to the speaker.  At the core of every successful relationship marketing strategy lies this idea of this deep connection.

Relationship marketing: a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns that emphasize customer retention and satisfaction rather than sales transactions. 

The Daily found a way to take their audience from passive listeners to active supporters that rally around their cause and incite action. This is done through thoughtful and purposeful relationship marketing.

How Does The Daily Win At Relationship Marketing? 

They offer 10x content 

The NY Times, the producer of The Daily, is one of the most well-respected content organizations in the world.

With two million downloads every weekday, The Daily helps a large portion of the United States understand and form an opinion around current events. The Daily’s message is left-leaning but is respectful of all political beliefs. It is totally free to the listener and fully financed by advertisers.

Quality content jam-packed with value to the listener at zero cost. Do you see any obvious downsides? I don’t.

Because of the 10x content The Daily pushes out every day, they have a strong and loyal following. But does The Daily team end the customer experience there? Absolutely not. They use this reputation to grow their subscriber base for the NY Times company. The NY Times competes with free online articles – and wins. How are they growing their paid subscriber base?

They send new engagement to the free product and the daily listeners to the subscription 

A marketing funnel at its strongest – The Daily puts their money where their mouth is by not asking the listener to pay immediately. They prove the free product is worth it before asking anyone to open their wallet. In their outbound marketing campaigns on Hulu and YouTube, the CTA is to listen to the free product.

“This moment we’re living in deserves to be questioned, to be challenged. This moment deserves compassion and an honest conversation. But most of all, this moment deserves to be understood.” 

Michael Barbaro, Hulu and YouTube marketing campaign copy

They create an emotional connection with the listener 

It is impossible to not involve yourself with the stories told. The first-hand accounts, intimate interviews, and thought-provoking analyses make you laugh, cry, and think with The Daily team. You learn about the personalities and beliefs of the journalists to strengthen the connection between you and the content. Before you know it, you have the free subscription to the podcast and listen religiously every weekday. Only once the listener experiences the free product do they hear a subscription-based CTA.

Once The Daily has you as a returning listener, they hit you with this message or one similar: 

“Hi. I’m Kaitlin Dickerson. I cover immigration for the New York Times, and just when I think my work is done for the day, I get a call from “The Daily’. They say, ‘Hey how would you feel about putting together an episode for tomorrow’s show about the latest news on border security?’ And by now I know it might not be a quick endeavor, but I also know that it’s worth it. So, I go downstairs, and I hop into the studio and start answering their questions.

And often I’m thinking: ‘are you sure people are gonna want to know all this detail? Isn’t it too granular?’ But it’s not – and the producers and editors are always right about that. I know because when the episode airs, I inevitably hear from people who say, ‘thank you for explaining this in a way I could understand’ or ‘now I finally get it.’ So, if you want to support the hard-working team behind The Daily, you can subscribe to the NY Times. To do that, go to  

Kaitlin Dickerson, NY Times Podcast ad

This commercial break in the podcast is almost unnoticeable because it is in the same voice and style of the podcast. Kaitlin, a NY Times journalist, tells a story to connect before offering CTA, which only lasts about 5 seconds. Each commercial also focuses some time emphasizing how they listen and more importantly react to audience responses. This shows that The Daily community that is heard.

With a nonprofit-esque call to action and a familiar voice to back the CTA, it conveys the idea that it is one small team against the world. Who doesn’t want to support a team of (seemingly) scrappy and passionate underdogs?

The CTA makes you feel a part of something 

The message behind the ad is: ‘Want to hear the voice of the silenced? Become a part of our group by subscribing.’ There is no mention of buying or paying for something – the only action words are ‘support’ or ‘subscribe’. This minimizes the financial transaction part and emphasizes the social justice aspect of the CTA. Listeners who buy into the subscription are now a part of that scrappy and passionate team that wants to make a change.

What we can learn from The Daily relationship marketing:

  • Give before you take: offer value before asking anything of your audience.
  • Focus a CTA around why you are doing something – not just to buy your product or service.
  • Offer proof that you listen to and appreciate feedback from your audience – communication is the key to relationship marketing.
  • Offer internal stories and perspectives to emotionally connect with your audience and humanize your brand.

Ready to improve your relationship marketing tactics? Reach out to our team!

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