A few months ago, Campaign Monitor hit a milestone. We turned 10 years old.
We shared a few bottles of Champagne Monitor (our custom-branded champagne) and said a few words, but then got back to business.
One of the things we talked about on the day was how much has evolved here at the company. From the people to the product, a lot has changed in 10 years.
So in this post, we thought it would be interesting to share with you our own email marketing strategy, how it has evolved as both our product and our company has grown, and what we’re planning moving forward.
The early days
In the early days, Campaign Monitor never really did marketing. We had no formal marketing department, no team and no budget. The focus was on creating an amazing product, and we grew through organic word of mouth and the Giving Back program.
It’s no surprise then, that our email marketing strategy was pretty limited. Members of other teams (like Ros) and even the founders would write content on the blog, and then at the end of (some) months we’d compile that content into a newsletter.
We never really focused much on building our email list either. We only ever had a small email input box in the footer of our website as well as a small opt-in box at the bottom of the account signup form.
Somehow however, we managed to grow our list using just these two collection methods. Our newsletter in August 2005 went to just 2,742 people, yet exactly 5 years later in August 2010 it went to 107,334 people. Today, almost 10 years since we started sending it out, it goes to just over 181,000 recipients.
As Campaign Monitor has grown as a company, our investment in marketing has grown significantly.
We now have a marketing team of more than 10 people (and are hiring) and our email marketing strategy has evolved from one newsletter into multiple campaigns across multiple segments.
Here’s how it looks today:
With over 181,000 subscribers, the newsletter continues to be a big part of our email marketing strategy.
However it has changed a bit over the years.
As we’ve scaled our content marketing efforts and shifted the focus slightly, it has become less about designing and coding email campaigns and more about achieving overall email marketing success. Whilst it does still feature design and coding tips, it also features advice on building your email list, writing great subject lines and using Google Analytics to measure your email marketing.
Thankfully, the newsletter has also been redesigned since the first campaign went out in 2005 and looks much more modern and appealing:
Towards the end of last year, we also rolled out our first series of onboarding emails.
In case you aren’t familiar with the term, onboarding refers to the process of getting people familiar with your application and giving them the skills and knowledge to use it effectively.
Because it’s free to create a Campaign Monitor account, we get a lot of people signing up. However, only a certain percentage of those people actually go on to send a campaign and convert into paying customers.
Obviously, increasing the rate at which people who signup go on to become paying customers is critical to our growth, so we’re leveraging email marketing to do that.
Here’s a look at some of the emails we send out in this series:
This email goes to out to everybody that signs up for Campaign Monitor and contains some basic information about their account that they’ll need moving forward, such as their login URL and email address.
It also contains a Next Steps section, which includes some links to help documentation and other resources designed to help the user get started with Campaign Monitor.
No Campaign Created Email
If a person has created a Campaign Monitor account but not yet created a campaign, we send them an email encouraging them to do so.
The email focuses on showing people how easy it is to create and send a beautiful email campaign that looks great on all devices, with the goal of getting people to return to the application and create and send a campaign.
No List Uploaded Email
If a person has created a campaign but not yet uploaded and selected a list to send it to, we’ll send them an email prompting them to upload their first email list.
The goal of the email is to get people to go back into the application and finish the process of sending their first campaign, and features a call to action to setup a list as well as an alternative method of sending for those who may not yet have a list built.
There are several more of these emails in the series, but you get the picture.
These emails have been a great step forward for us and have had a noticeable effect on customer acquisition. So much so, that we’ll be writing a detailed post on them in the coming months so keep an eye out for that one :)
Blog Subscribers Email
As we continue to invest in and grow content marketing at Campaign Monitor, we’ve introduced a new thread to our email marketing strategy that we like to call the ‘Blog Subscribers Email’
This email goes out to all subscribers every time we publish a new post on the blog, and it is a big driver of traffic to the blog. In fact, it accounts for about 40% of traffic to every new post we publish.
Until a few months ago, we used to automate this email using our RSS to email feature and it looked a bit like this:
However, when we launched our new email builder we decided to start sending these campaigns manually for a number of reasons:
- We wanted to showcase what was possible with the new email builder
- We wanted to be able to run A/B tests on this email as it was one of our most frequently sent campaigns, meaning we could do lots of testing quickly.
So we started sending our ‘Blog Subscribers Email’ using the Mason template in our new email builder:
As a result of this change, we got a 127% increase in click-through rates. In fact, email is now the 2nd biggest driver of traffic to the blog overall behind search, far exceeding other channels like social and referral.
In the future
Moving forward, we’re continuing to invest in our growth and spreading the good word about Campaign Monitor and email marketing in general.
And not surprisingly, we’ll be continuing to expand our email marketing efforts to help fuel that growth.
Without fail, the day we send the monthly newsletter (which primarily contains links to our blog posts and guides) is our biggest traffic day for that month, regularly driving an extra 10,000 to 20,000 visits to our content pieces in a 24 hour period.
So it isn’t surprising that it’s sticking around.
We’ve even started to include new feature announcements in the newsletter as well, such as this one with the news of our acquisition of GetFeedback:
However, with fewer than 10% of newsletter subscribers actually being customers, we’re very careful not to make this email too product focused.
Our goal is to continue to create and send awesome content on email marketing that is useful to anyone regardless of what email marketing tool they use.
Although our onboarding emails are only relatively new, we’re keen to continue iterating on them and improving them over time.
Some areas of focus for us moving forward will be:
- Refining the existing emails – We’ve already started conducting A/B tests on the existing series of emails to see if we can improve the results we get from them. We’re not only testing small changes to subject lines & body copy, but also trying bigger, sweeping changes like overhauling the entire messaging of a particular email to see what works best.
- Introducing new emails – Our current onboarding process is very focused on helping people get through the initial stages of signing up, creating an email, uploading a list and sending a campaign. However, there are plenty of opportunities to use onboarding emails beyond just that initial use period, and could include introducing people to new features they haven’t tried yet, or giving them contextual tips on how to improve their existing campaigns.
Refining these emails is going to be a big area of focus for our product marketing team this year, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated with the changes we’re making and the lessons we’ve learnt along the way.
Lead nurturing emails
An area the content team will be focusing on building out in 2015 is our lead nurturing emails.
You may have noticed on some of our larger content pieces, like the Top 100 Email Campaigns of 2014, that we included a prominent email subscribe box in the bottom right-hand corner:
Whenever anybody enters their email address in one of these boxes, we add them to our lead nurturing list.
Then, based on what piece of content they subscribed from, we send them an automated series of emails containing content relevant to the stage of the buying cycle they are in.
For instance, if someone subscribes from a content piece like the Top 100 Email Marketing Campaigns, then we assume they are in the early stages of the buying cycle and send them high-level educational content (like this post on subject line formulas or this one on copywriting).
Alternatively, if someone subscribes from a content piece like A guide to choosing the right email marketing tool for your business, then we assume they are in the later stages of the buying cycle and send them case studies and customer success stories to help show them Campaign Monitor is the right choice for them.
This kind of advanced email automation is all possible in Campaign Monitor using segments and autoresponders, and we will be rolling out these lead nurturing series of emails later this year.
Blog Subscribers Email
As mentioned earlier, the Blog Subscribers Email is responsible for around 40% of new traffic to every new blog post we publish, so it’s a pretty important part of growing our blog traffic moving forward.
With the recent redesign and our consistent A/B testing, we’ve managed to get this email quite optimized for conversions. So now, the focus is on building the number of people that subscribe to the list.
We subscribe to the Great incentive + Prominent subscribe opportunities = massive email list formula for growing a list, and are working on optimizing both those areas moving forward.
We’re continuing to invest in producing high-quality, actionable blog posts (we’re even hiring another content marketer to join the team), and have recently started adding a prominent subscribe box to the bottom of every post to create more opportunities for visitors to subscribe.
As a result of these increased efforts, we’ve been able to double the number of new subscribers who join the list each month.
As usual, we’ll continue to experiment with different methods for growing the list and share all our learnings with you in future blog posts.
As this post has detailed, we’ve moved from a basic newsletter-focused email marketing strategy to taking a much more sophisticated approach that utilizes email to achieve multiple business goals.
That’s the power of email. It’s equally as effective at getting people to take action in their Campaign Monitor account as it is to get them to read more blog posts or signup for an account in the first place.
So take a leaf out of our book and steal some of these ideas for your business, and let us know how email has helped you grow.
Your turn: What other types of email campaigns do you send? Share your experience and best practices with our readers so we can all learn together.
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