Email marketing is a great fit for businesses of all shapes and sizes. But it’s a particularly good fit for publishers and news sites that tirelessly share the latest information with their audiences. If you’ve got news to share, email is a great way to share it.
That’s why Morning Brew, a multi-platform media startup focused on business news and insights, uses email as a primary channel for connecting with their readers. Morning Brew uses email marketing to send daily digests that get millennials excited about what’s happening in the business world– from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
We sat down with Tyler Denk, Growth Engineer at Morning Brew, to learn how the company leverages email marketing to reach subscribers, build an audience, and change the way people digest and engage with the latest business news. Tyler has led the effort to optimize the company’s email strategy, increasing open rates by 125% to date and mailbox deliverability from about 60% to 99%.
Tell us a little bit about Morning Brew.
TD: Morning Brew is a multi-platform media startup that gets millennials excited about the business world. The core product is an email newsletter that delivers 250,000+ future business leaders the latest news from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, daily.
We use a down to earth, friendly voice, to share the latest information on markets, the economy, trends in auto, real estate, technology, and much more.
Email is a central fixture of everything we do, so it’s essential that we get it right. Since I joined the team 8 months ago as Growth Engineer, best-in-class email practices have been a focal point of the growth strategy as we continually work to optimize our approach.
What business goals are you trying to accomplish with email?
TD: Being that our core product is the daily newsletter, email is an essential part of the business. When it comes to how we align our business goals with email marketing, we always come back to quality.
For example, “total number of subscribers” is a vanity metric. After all, anyone can purchase large lists or use shady practices to acquire email addresses, and then say that they have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. This is not what Morning Brew is about, and it goes against our code of ethics.
Rather than focusing on total number of subscribers, we focus on quality subscribers who are passionate about our content and engage with our emails regularly. This is why the only metric that we focus on is unique opens— and to that point, we plan to reach millions of unique daily opens as soon as possible.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as you’ve worked towards a high quality list?
TD: I think the most difficult thing to accomplish at scale is maintaining a super clean email list of engaged subscribers. When you only have a few subscribers, it’s relatively easy to manage them. However, as you grow, you constantly have to assess who’s engaged, who’s not, and which email addresses belong to real people.
At Morning Brew, we work to ensure that legitimate active emails are entered into our lists, as well as actively re-engaging and churning inactive emails as they no longer engage with our content.
What led you to Campaign Monitor?
TD: I spent over a month researching different email service providers (ESPs). There are many out there offering a boatload of amazing features. Ultimately, I found Campaign Monitor to be the most compatible with our goals. The interface is intuitive, there’s a ton of flexibility, the API allows us to create unique workflows and solutions, and the support is some of the best I’ve encountered with a vendor.
Campaign Monitor’s support is incredible. I utilize both their form submission and direct phone line (depending on the issue) regularly, and the response time and human element of working with their support is above and beyond any other SaaS company I’ve used.
What’s been the biggest win for Morning Brew’s email program since making the switch?
TD: We’ve loved using Campaign Monitor on a daily basis, but when it comes to clear wins for our business, the numbers speak for themselves. After we switched over to Campaign Monitor, we grew our engagement metrics by leaps and bounds.
Before the switch, we had an average of a 22% open rate. Today, we have a 50% open rate, which is a huge difference. Additionally, inbox deliverability has improved. In a year, we’ve gone from 60% inbox deliverability to 99% deliverability.
Since implementing Campaign Monitor, we’ve seen great metrics for our KPIs across the board. Here are a few we’re particularly proud of:
- Open rates jumped from 20% to 47% within 8 months
- Click-through-rate of 15% for daily newsletters
- Reliable deliverability rate of 99% (up from ~60% with MailChimp)
- Gmail moved our emails from the promotional category to a subscriber’s personal inbox
In order to get these results, we ran re-engagement campaigns to identify unengaged users and churned around 100,000 of them in order to increase their aggregate open rates and improve mailbox rankings. We also migrated to a new sending domain and moved from a shared IP to a dedicated IP to improve our domain reputation and deliverability. Additionally, in our Welcome Series, we asked subscribers to add Morning Brew to their personal contacts to increase visibility in the inbox.
What tips would you suggest to other publishers hoping to improve their email strategy?
TD: If I could offer up any tip, it would be to focus on engagement rates, rather than vanity metrics. The content and publishing industry has been plagued with vanity metrics since the internet began. Vanity metrics are nice, but they’re far from the most important thing for publishers.
Most publishers would rather have an email list of 1 million subscribers than an email list of 300,000 subscribers. But if the smaller list is much cleaner and more engaged, it’s actually a lot more valuable. The key is always how engaged people are with the emails you send.
Morning Brew is growing fast, building authority and gaining more subscribers with each passing day. As the business grows, it becomes more essential than ever to use email marketing best practices to target subscribers, engage the audience, and ultimately bring in substantial ROI using email.