May 10th, 2013 seems like it wasn't that long ago, but it was actually 100 newsletters ago.
The newsletter grew out of one of our “Kick Point marketing afternoons” — we would all take a half day on Thursdays and work on things that would help grow the profile of Kick Point. Sometimes it was blog posts, sometimes it was tweaking the content on our website, and that particular week, it was building a newsletter. (I remember sitting in Roast setting it up.)
If we built the newsletter now, it would actually be a lot harder because of the CASL rules. We wouldn’t be able to send that initial email asking if people wanted our newsletter through our email software as we did then.
We asked 490 people — 13 of them unsubscribed, and 53 of the emails bounced. Out of those 490 people, 46 signed up in time for our first newsletter. Only one person unsubscribed from our first newsletter (sorry Carl!) but it had a pretty sweet 80% open rate and 46% click rate. Someone even shared it on social media!
Technically, we should be at newsletter #101 tomorrow. The second week the newsletter was to go out, I asked Jen if she could do that since I’d be on vacation.
Jen remembered she was supposed to send out the newsletter at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Friday night. She had just moved into her new house that morning, so we have more or less forgiven her newsletter faux pas.
Despite this setback, we just picked ourselves up and kept going for #2 on May 24th. And haven’t managed to miss a newsletter since, although there have been a few times I’ve woken up in a panic on Friday mornings and ran to the computer to send the newsletter because I forgot the day before. Now the newsletter is a collaborative effort by everyone at Kick Point — in theory, at least one of us should remember, right?
Here are some stats on our newsletter growth:
First subscriber: Doug Lepak
Most recent subscriber: Jillian Schecher
When we first started the newsletter, it was double-opt-in, so there’s actually 73 people who never confirmed who are sitting in email limbo. Now with CASL, we don’t need double-opt-in — much easier. I also never removed the people who didn’t provide consent during the whole CASL thing, so they’re still on the list, but they don’t get newsletters.
From June 2013 to about September 2014, it was much harder to sign up for our newsletter. There were signups at the bottom of the page, but we knew that not everyone was seeing them. We added a dedicated newsletter page and the rate of signups increased nicely. We don’t have one of those annoying popups yet, but we’ve toyed with the idea. They’re annoying, but they actually do work.
Here’s our click and open rates for the life of the newsletter:
You can see exactly where CASL debuted — the big leap in the green line is pretty obvious. As the list got bigger, we lost opens steadily. Right now, it looks like we’re holding steady at 40% to 45% open and around 35% to 40% click, depending on the content. Some weeks are really low and some are much higher — what we share has the biggest impact on click rate.
Things we've learned:
Saying “ferrets” in a newsletter sends it to spam. Why? No idea.
People say that they want more technical articles, but it’s the ones about social media that get the most clicks.
Our newsletters hang around for a while — our first newsletter still got opened and clicked 10 months later!
The more links, the better. Providing multiple places for people to click has really helped our click rate.
Don’t send out newsletters on Christmas Eve. Or Good Friday. Or really, any major holidays, even if it means that you’ll have to change your email schedule.
Would you like to get Kick Point’s 100th newsletter? Maybe even our 101st? You can do that right here.