Alchemy Worx Launches BBC Radio 2 Email Program

Turning listeners into subscribers


BBC Radio 2 is one of the most popular and distinctive stations on the air, reaching over 15 million listeners a week with its unique mix of music and speech programmes.  Alongside BBC One, Radio 2 leads the mainstream entertainment agenda, with high profile presenters across the week day schedule. The Radio 2 audience is made up predominantly of 35-55 years olds (40%) and over 55s (42%), who tune in for its distinctly warm and entertaining output.  

Listeners of BBC Radio 2 were engaging with the brand through social media, an estimated 150,000 actions in June 2012, but this was resulting in only 4 per cent of listeners actually visiting the station’s website.  In August 2013, BBC Radio 2 approached Alchemy Worx to launch its first email newsletter programme, called ‘2mail’, working alongside the existing content team to design and develop these emails.  

Claire Jullien, Head of Marketing for Radio 2, 6Music, & Asian Network at BBC, commented: “Email offers us a new way to engage our millions of listeners with other interesting content and offers, while retaining the distinctive personal style we have on Radio 2.  Having never run an email marketing programme for the station before, we were looking for a specialist agency that would be able to not only execute activity, but work with us to grow a sustainable list of engaged email subscribers.” 


Never having run an email marketing programme before, there were two key challenges facing the BBC Radio 2 and Alchemy Worx team.  First was developing all the necessary materials in time for a 1st October launch, which included sign-up forms, email templates, and ensuring the infrastructure to run a successful email programme was all in place within the 3 week timeframe.  Second, once the campaign was under way, ensuring fast and sustainable growth of ‘2mail’ subscribers without jeopardising open and click metrics in the long term.  


BBC Radio 2 is in a unique position, compared to many of its competitors, as it is not a commercial station.  Therefore, its email marketing programme was able to focus on engaging readers with interesting content, rather than having to be an additional revenue stream for the station.  This meant that Alchemy Worx was able to work with the BBC team to develop a campaign that used email as a media engagement channel, rather than simply a direct response medium.

The campaign was also able to launch to a captive audience of 15 million listeners each week, who were already interested in BBC Radio 2 as they had chosen to tune-in in the first place.  Therefore, the new ‘2mail’ campaign was able to be targeted direct to interested consumers through on-air and online promotions.  This meant that existing fans of the station were able to extend their experience and engagement further through a simple sign-up process, which resulted in them receiving a weekly digest of interesting content.

Each ‘2mail’ was introduced and closed by a paragraph from a presenter (so example, right), allowing for the distinctive voice that is synonymous with Radio 2 to continue through its email communications. The content in the main body of the email would then include a variety of digital content highlights (such as video interviews with artists) and promotions (such as tickets to upcoming performances) for the week. This resulted in a personal message to listeners containing new content and offers that were actionable, in order to drive engagement with the brand and, ultimately, traffic to the Radio 2 website.

Dela Quist, CEO at Alchemy Worx, said: “Working with BBC Radio 2 gave us a rare opportunity to launch a brand new email programme from scratch. The BBC is already creating fantastic content, so it’s exciting to be able to work with them to ensure their listeners are aware of how much more the brand has to offer. This has meant we were able to work with the BBC to create a campaign that utilises the benefits of email as more than simply a direct response channel, but as a broadcast channel that would enable Radio 2 listeners to further engage with the brand.”


In the first 4 weeks of the email programme going live on 1st October the unique open rate is 66 per cent with a unique click rate of 21 per cent, which equates to a click-to-open rate of 31 per cent. This highlights that Radio 2 listeners are tangibly not only opening their ‘2mail’, but engaging with the new content being offered to them through the campaign.  Another major part of the on-going programme will be growing the subscriber base for the ‘2mail’ campaign and since 24th September, when sign-up forms went live on the BBC Radio 2 website, over 16,000 listeners have opted in to receive these messages.  

Jullien added: “The first month of our new email programme has been a fantastic success. Alchemy Worx understood our brand messages very quickly and was able to create email templates that truly replicated the look and feel of our brand. They were also able to up-to-speed with all the planning and preparations required to launch the programme under very quick turnaround times. Alchemy Worx are experts at what they do and as a result of the successful launch of ‘2mail’ we are planning a knowledge sharing event to share the team’s experiences and best practices with the wider BBC marketing team.”

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