Growth February 13, 2020

1.5 million subscribers, 40% open rate... magic growth?

Felix Wong @felix12777

Morning Brew, theSkimm, Scott's Cheap Flights... I'm sure you're familiar with these names

Giving a shout to some of our members here like No code coffee, Growth examples, theHustle, gymsushi, album daily, makerlist etc...

  • How do you see newsletter/ inbox based businesses?
  • Are you also building a similar project in another niche?
  • Any secret sauce behind your growth engine?
  1. 3

    Hey @felix12777 good questions.

    As for Growth Examples, at this stage, I am too small to be able to talk about the magic sauce behind newsletter growth, although the fun part is that at this moment, 50% of my subscribers are people in my network - past/current customers clients.

    Moving forward, I am looking into leveraging other platforms out there where my potential audience hangs out but of course this alone won't be enough - I have few ideas I am planning to execute in the coming weeks.

    First of all, keeping a high subscription rate likely means that:

    • you have double opt-in to prevent ghost signups
    • from time to time you want to simply purge non-active subscribers. I don't care if my list has 2000 subscribers if half of them didn't open last 3 newsletters, I will likely unsubscribe them.
    • and of course, you blast out a message that everyone waits for :)

    Quality above all.

    1. 2

      Definitely interested to see how you leverage communities.

      Re unsubscriber: I would also suggest creating an exit email to understand why your subscribers weren't active and see how you can improve.

      Excited to hear more from you @unstoppable

  2. 3

    I just started MakerList, so I'd love to see how other people are growing their newsletters!

    Something that Morning Brew used to grow really quickly is their referral system, which incentivizes people to share the newsletter in exchange for actual, physical rewards. It worked out really well for them (you can read more about it here).

    1. 1

      Hey, I just clicked through and saw a couple of minor issues.

      First is a CSS issue with your subscribe button. Second, it should be "level up", not "uplevel"!

      1. 1

        I can't see that CSS issue in Chrome - can I ask what browser/device you're using?

        And I think uplevel is actually a word, but I think some people may not have heard it used very much before. I may change it if people are getting confused by it.

        Thanks for the feedback!

        EDIT: I took both of your points into account and have changed the wording and extended the width of the signup box + subscribe button container. Hopefully that makes things better :)

        1. 1

          I use Firefox. Most likely what happened is your layout was relying on a Chrome default style, like a minimum width, margin or padding .

          Uplevel definitely is a word—generally an adjective—but using it as a verb for "level up" is a very regional US usage. I see it as similar to words like "rigamarole" or "catawampus"—definitely stuff you'll hear in parts of the US, but not something I'd use in widely targeted copy.

          1. 2

            Thank you @alchemist, this was very helpful feedback!

        2. 1

          @richardchu MakerList seems really cool. What's your biggest learning so far?

          1. 1

            Thanks @felix12777. I just started it this past week, so the biggest learning is probably that people seem to be willing to sign up for a newsletter even without browsing through past issues, as long as the value proposition is high enough! This means that (as with other products) it's helpful to start marketing it early.

            I'm sending out the first issue tomorrow so I hope to learn some more stuff then. Likely I'll make a post about it on Indie Hackers.

            1. 1

              Thanks for sharing @richardchu

              Would be great to participate the conversation :)

    2. 1

      Thanks for the link, such an interesting read! The Hustle do something similar with theirs.

  3. 2

    I think it was a tremendously underrated channel for a full decade. Right now, it may still be or people may have gotten saturated with too many automated emails, depending on your niche.

    1. 1

      That's true. Some automated emails never updated.

      How do you see bit-sized / curated niche newsletter jumping into the game? @alchemist

      1. 1

        The more there are, the more crowded and less effective the marketing channel will become. The same has happened with many other channels and will continue happening with many more.

        That doesn't mean that it's a bad channel, just like blogging wasn't a real opportunity in 2013. It just means both are more competitive than they were 10 years previously.

  4. 1

    @felix12777 @alchemist

    Started HelloClouders in similar lines.

    https://helloclouders.com - The easiest way to learn AWS with bite-sized content and daily questions

    One of the biggest challenges is to get more signups before actually making the content available. In our case, its like 30 day , 60 day, 90 day short bite-sized content for people starting to learn AWS. So, it not possible to release some quick content. It has to be sent in a proper format everyday and we are still working on content.

    Its not exactly like news letter. But its more like daily emails with bite-sized content/questions.

    1. 2

      I started releasing tutorials before ever asking for email or even making a site. In fact, the way I first got email signups was asking for them in a video.

      I guess if your model needs 30 lessons before any can be released, you'll need a different tactic.

      1. 1

        @alchemist Yes. Thats correct. Since its a day to day content that need to be sent in specific order, its a different ball game. May be

        On the other hand, we have created some quick content as well and started sharing in forums and getting some signups.

  5. 1

    I am not really answering the questions as I don't have a lot of experience with email marketing, but: one thing to keep in mind is that regularly sending 100k emails is not cheap. If the open rates or click rates are bad, it might be more costly than spending getting leads from ad campaigns. For big business the cost might not be that high, but for startups and indie hackers it's not that easy to send that many e-mails (without setting up your own newsletter service and servers), even if people actually want your e-mails. You might not want to do this for a long time without getting some revenue back from your subscribers.

    1. 1

      If you're specifically looking to send a newsletter (not just doing email marketing in general), then I would recommend using Substack. It's completely free to use as long as you don't introduce a paid subscription for your emails (if you do, they take 10% of your revenue, which is how they make money).

  6. 1

    I'm also interested here. I am running Album Daily, and think the models of the newsletters you mentioned are wonderful.

    1. 1

      @garretthenrym www.albumdaily.com looks really cool too. How long have you been running this? Any hacks can share?

  7. 1

    I'm interested to see some replies here, particularly as I'm entering this niche with gymsushi.co and afewnights.com.

    I think newsletters can work both as primary driver for business, as well as springboard into bigger companies specialising in more than just email.

    1. 2

      Just want to say I adore the design of your landing page for gymsushi. I'm on a phone and it's so cute. Clean, simple, concise and human copy, just 😘

      Nice work.

      1. 1

        Thanks so much! I'm glad you like it!

      2. 1

        Echo @Stevie - discovered Gymsushi by @mcfdn recently. Well designed and simple. Would be great to see the content as well!

        1. 1

          Thanks again, Felix - I'm working on the first edition at the moment. Will be sending it out as soon as I'm happy with it!