Sending newsletters again
This weekend, I sent my first Cushion newsletter in over a year and a half. Yikes—that hits extra hard when seeing it in writing. This was a pretty big deal for me because I used to love sending out these newsletters. They were simple monthly roundups of new features and updates, which surprisingly contributed to most of Cushion’s growth. I reckon the newsletters are infrequent enough that they serve as a gentle reminder that Cushion exists rather than flooding your inbox and twisting your arm into converting like most newsletters. Since I took a significant “sabbatical” from building new features this past year (aka burnt out), I honestly didn’t have anything worthwhile to put in a newsletter. And after a while, I realized that folks needed the reminder that Cushion existed. Plenty of people still found Cushion from word-of-mouth alone, but the newsletter has always been crucial in getting that monthly spike.
Typically, I’d moan and groan about composing a newsletter, but several months before I stopped, I found a service I hadn’t heard of before—MailerLite. (I want to believe so bad that this is a riff on Miller Lite beer, but since they’re mostly based in Lithuania, I doubt this is the case.) Between all the usual suspects of newsletter services, I always ended up hating the experience because they all try to do too much. Because of this, they become overly complex and obviously target marketing teams who need to essentially build a complex custom webpage in an email. This makes my simple use-case dreadfully painful to compose. Then I found MailerLite, which is clean, effortless, and the right amount of customization without giving you the world.
Aside from composing a newsletter, I love the way in which MailerLite displays link stats—overlaid on the newsletter itself. Sure, a list of percentages is useful, but seeing what folks click in-context is especially enlightening. For example, this was (embarrassingly) the first time I included actual call-to-action buttons for each section of the newsletter, and to no one’s surprise, they were clicked way more than the links in those sections.
Somewhat surprising, the top links in the newsletter weren’t the ones about Cushion’s new features or content for freelancers, but rather the links to my writing about Cushion. Overwhelmingly, people clicked the button to read this blog about Cushion’s process. I get why, especially since few products provide any behind-the-scenes look, but it’s still nice to see. Here’s hoping that those folks still spread the word about using Cushion rather than just reading about it! (wink)
So far, the newsletter is doing pretty well. It’s only been 24 hours, so it’s unfair to compare to the previous ones, but let’s do it anyways. Leading up to my break, Cushion newsletters averaged an open rate of 38% with a click rate of 4-6%. So far, this latest newsletter is at an open rate of 26% and climbing, with a click rate of over 4%. The hard-to-swallow-but-easy-to-understand stat is unsubscribes, which are so consistent, it’s almost scary. Looking back at all the newsletters I’ve sent out, almost always 1% of folks unsubscribe. If I were new to newsletters, this would gut me, but honestly, if I think about how quick I am to unsubscribe from newsletters, I’d expect much higher.
Currently, when you sign up for Cushion, you automatically subscribe to the newsletter. I don’t feel great about this, but I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t mind receiving newsletters from products I’ve signed up for. Muscle memory also causes me to close the newsletter pop-up before it even appears. Part of me wonders what the numbers would be if the newsletter were opt-in only and I were surgical about picking the right moment ask folks to sign up. At the same time, that’s not my main focus right now—the app itself is. It does, however, feel so good to be sending newsletters again.
If you’re interested in the newsletter, you can subscribe here. (see what I did there?)