Case History: Kimberly-Clark Broadens Reach by Narrowing Focus

By Mar 30, 2005

It seemed so simple enough back in 2003. Kimberly-Clark Professional started a newsletter called The Link, to serve as an information portal for several industries.

But the unit, which offers tissues and other washroom products, found that readers wanted specialized content in addition to the general. So it started several other e-zines, each one tailored for a narrow audience. And they are now drawing very good open and clickthrough rates. The Link is still the biggest newsletter, with 6,082 subscribers. In contrast, Manufacturing Link has 1,025 subs, Office Building Link has 802, Health Care Link has 694 and Lodging Link has 345. Some customers double up.

“When we looked at our subscriber base we noticed that a good percentage, approximately 30%, were subscribing to more than one of the publications,” says Kristin Miller, e-business manager, Kimberly-Clark Professional. To make the communications easily discernable in a subscriber’s inbox, the use of colors and graphics were used to give each e-newsletter its own identity. But Miller faced unique hurdles with distribution and editorial. To increase touches with multiple-Link subscribers, Miller staggers the newsletter releases weekly throughout the month. Since there are five e-newsletters, the two with the least overlapping audience are distributed the same week.

On the editorial side, Miller initially produced up to five stories an issue. But time and experience have led her to par back to three main stories each month: An industry specific headline story, one linking to a trade publication or association article and a downloadable piece (i.e. a tip sheet) that readers can print and post for their employees. “Some of the areas we work with have reciprocal linking and with some there’s no return,” explains Miller addressing the possibility of to losing readers by linking to an outside source. “But since we’re B-to-B, the links are brand building and building our reputation as an industry leader of information.”

According to Miller the general e-newsletter has the lowest open rates, averaging 26 percent. Opening rates for Manufacturing runs at about 40%, Lodging about 50%, Office Building about 40% and Health Care about 50%. Although primarily focused on end users, the newsletters also attract sales reps and distributors.

Kimberly-Clark Professional utilizes IMN Inc. to publish the newsletter, manage and track subscribers and provide newsletter reports. What