Although we’re just beginning to gather data around our effectiveness I thought that I’d share a few stats that we have so far and give you some additional thoughts on what we’re doing and how we’ve managed to put things together.
So let’s jump in.
The most significant change is the fact that we’ve moved away from Mailchimp as a service and delivery tool and instead opted for Curated, a well-known and well-used newsletter service that I’ve encountered via some of my favorite publications.
The tooling is streamlined and much more simple than Mailchimp and gets you right into the action of curating articles, adding editorial comments, and then publishing them with speed.
I particularly like the much more simple interface and some of the real-time stats that they provide right on the issues themselves and you can quickly scroll through them and see how they are performing.
For our specific needs for the #EngOps Newsletter this couldn’t be more perfectly suited. We’re creating a highly-curated solution with 5 simple categories with some editorial remarks that can quickly get the reader the information that they need, fast.
The categories that we launched with are as follows:
- Industry News
- Tools, Technology
- Teams, Leadership
- Product, Growth
And, perhaps most importantly is the fact that we’ve limited the amount of links to 10. Yup, just 10 high-signal links instead of a fatiguing list farm. Although this makes my work much more difficult I believe the result is infinitely better (previous iterations were very link-heavy and zero editorial).
The Settings Page is simple enough as well and you can manage the look-and-feel, any of the metadata-specific options, and then custom URLs, hosting, and more:
And, as you have already seen, our ability to create a custom URL (https://EngOps.is) was something that I had personally wanted as well:
My rationale for this was simple: Newsletters aren’t going away and, in fact, they have become much more important in our daily lives, especially the ones that are curated and bring the best signal in a world where there is so much noise.
In short, I wanted a formal-looking page to express our interest in being serious about our newsletter efforts and Curated made it quite simple.
But the most important part of the transition was the question of whether the migration of subscribers from Mailchimp would work effortlessly and without any loss and if our readers would continue to click the links that we were providing them.
For comparison, we achieved better than industry standard for Open Rates and Click Rates, the former being between 20.95% and 21.71% and the latter being between 2.29% and 3.33% (Social Networks / Online Communities vs Software and Web App).
Here’s a look at the stats for the previous iteration of the newsletter where you can see us absolutely crushing those industry averages:
Every single time we’re batting over 40% opens and over 20% clicks, about 2X the former and almost 10X the latter (vs industry averages). We were feeling really great about this, of course.
So, when we moved to Curated I hoped that we would continue our trajectory and that folks would appreciate our continued efforts, despite the technology change-over.
I haven’t been disappointed as we’re trending higher on the Open Rates but a bit lower on the Click Throughs, as you can see by the screenshot.
Now, I haven’t dug in deep quite yet and I don’t have a copious amount of data, but, I’m happy to see that our subscribers are, in fact, opening the emails and that they are also clicking through. What I’ll have to do continually is iterate, experiment, and understand these stats and see how we can incrementally improve issue by issue.
But I feel good about the effort and work so far and I love still being way above industry averages. I also know that it is a very different format than the last iteration and so readers are still, most likely, getting used to that change as well.
And, of course, I’m polishing my own skills on curation and editorial, which is difficult despite the years of creating content. Every product is different, just like our customer base and readership so old patterns or “tricks” never guarantee similar returns. In fact, it’s dangerous to assume anything when building something new.
The best part about this smaller and more intimate approach to newsletter creation and delivery is the feedback that I’m getting after each issue. Folks will tweet or share or email me directly what they think of each issue and give candid remarks on some of the content.
I mean, I couldn’t dream of a better system! I think this is probably the most important “metric” right now in the early stages of building a new newsletter as the feedback from early readers is vital.
This, of course, is part and parcel with building software products as well and which is why we’re doing everything we can to do early customer interviews and the like. You just don’t know what you don’t know and you can never presume that you know what your customers (or readers) really want to see, hear, and read.
So, I appreciate you and I’m grateful for the folks that have subscribed and who continue to open our small newsletter twice a week. If you haven’t subscribed, I’d love for you to check it out and, of course, send me any and all feedback – it’s very welcome.
Also published on Medium.