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Five Questions: Kelly Haggard of Orange County Register

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by: Karen Marchione (@kmarchione)
01 February 2011

As the 2nd in a series of client interviews, today we are getting to know Kelly Haggard, who is the Business Development Marketing Manager for Orange County Register.  For those of us not living in the OC, the Register consists of OC Register plus 24 community newspapers. Orange County Register Communications’ web sites include,,,, and

[caption id="attachment_1020" align="alignright" width="132" caption="Kelly Haggard, Business Development Marketing Manager, Orange County Register"]Kelly Haggard, Business Development Marketing Manager, Orange County Register[/caption]

OC Register’s email program needs to be extensive to support all of its online and print channels. Focused on both B2C and B2B subscribers the program includes:

  • nine different newsletters
  • news alerts
  • advertising emails
  • promotional emails
  • a loyalty program
  • internal communications.

As you can guess, there is a lot going on all the time at OC Register.


1) Welcome Kelly! OC Register has been a Silverpop client for several years.  What would you say are the major lessons learned over the years?

I think we learned a lot of lessons over the years, the most important being every niche is a little different.  The more of an understanding we have of who we are emailing to, the better the results. For example, we did a lot of research on the “OC Mom” demographic before we officially launched our newsletter. Through that process, we learned what specifically they were looking for, such as a mix of product reviews, news articles, blogs, contests, and family event listings, to keep them engaged and clicking.

2) OC Register won Silver for Marketing Sherpa’s Best Email Newsletter in 2009 for its OC Moms newsletter. To date, if you could pick your most successful email program at OC Register, what would it be?  Why?

[caption id="attachment_1021" align="alignleft" width="178" caption="OC Arts newsletter launch resulted in a 40% open rate through pre-newsletter nurturing"]OC Register's successfully launched its OC Arts newsletter resulting in a 40% open rate through pre-newsletter nurturing[/caption]

I would say our OC ARTS newsletter that launched recently.  We launched it in partnership with a non-profit arts group, ArtsOC.  We warmed new readers up to being a subscriber by sharing the press release of the partnership, then a non-advertising version (a “pre-newsletter) before they received the full newsletter one week later.  We are currently getting about a 38-40% open rate and 9-10% click-thru rate on the newsletter each week. This is our most successful newsletter launch so far.

3) What would be your advice to someone new to email marketing?

Get an understanding of the basics concepts of email.  Go through your own email box and figure out what is the goal of each email you receive and whether or not it hit the mark as an early step to starting up. Data really is king and email marketing gives you much more data and tracking than other marketing tactics. It not only allows you to see what is working and what isn't quicker than other forms of marketing, it also gives you the proof you need that marketing does work.

I recommend these steps for someone just getting started:

  • Read all you can, a lot of the work has already been done, your job is to implement it within your organization.
  • Test before you make decisions. Things can easily be changed moving forward.
  • Know the rules; use them to your advantage. Don't email too much, too little and out of context and always make sure people are opted in before you email to them.
  • Just because html looks better, does not mean you shouldn't also send a text version. Always include a text version.
  • Check your email on multiple platforms. Build for the lowest common denominator.

4) OC Register’s Insider’s loyalty program is extremely successful with more than 35,000 members. What are the goals of the loyalty program and how do you keep your loyalty members engaged?

We have a program, Register Insider's, that is loyal subscribers of the paper.  The program was started to retain them as subscribers by offering special incentives (items, free tickets, VIP access to events, etc.) based on a point system.  They check the newspaper each day to get a word and then log on to the Register Insider's portal to get points for the word.  The points are then used to purchase different incentives.

The program has evolved as we offer more points for subscribing to our email newsletters and will soon be launching a word of the day in select email products.  We communicate to this group with emails, highlighting specific offers and typically get anywhere from a 35-50% open rate.  This group is very highly engaged.

5) : Kelly, you just attended Marketing Sherpa’s Email Summit in Las Vegas.  What were the key takeaways for you from the event?  Would you recommend the event to other marketers?

This was my first time at Marketing Sherpa's Email Summit and all I can say is, you have to attend this event!  It was great hearing the industry experts speak along with hearing the numerous successful case studies from other businesses.  There were little takeaways in each presentation.  From small tweaks to optimize the design and better approaches to grow internal marketing lists to advice on worst practices and things to look out for, I came back with a few months worth of work to integrate things into our programs.  The other benefit of the event was just being around so many people that are passionate about learning how to take email marketing to the next level and being able to establish networking relationships with them.


Thanks Kelly, nice speaking with you!


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