SaaStr Newsletters Now Reach 200,000+ a Week. A Few Lessons Learned.

Since Covid hit, Team SaaStr has understandably focused a bit more on our website, podcast, YouTube, and other digital assets, along with building out a unique breadth of digital events.

We’ve also refocused on our email newsletters.  We’d let them run on autopilot for a while, but have aggressively invested in them since Covid.  Our newsletters now reach 215,000 (!) a week across 3 newsletters:

  • Weekly.  A deep dive on everything new at SaaStr, from podcasts to news to tweets and more.  60,000 a week.
  • Daily.  An every-other-day Daily with a feed on new content at SaaStr blog.  100,000 a week.
  • Insider.  A newsletter updating classic content, pushed through LinkedIn.  20,000 a week.

What have we learned, taking a fresh look at these assets?  For us:

  • Design really doesn’t seem to matter.  The Weekly is beautifully designed, the Daily has zero design, and the Insider just uses the default design template provided by LinkedIn.  All seem to have about the same open rate (~20%) and engagement.
  • Refreshing older top content works.  We’ve updated some of the top earlier classic SaaStr posts with fresh data and learnings — and people seem to love to read them.  Refreshed content not only works, but it performs as well as new content.  Take your old, timeless content from years back and update it for 2021+.  It works.
  • Too much is — too much.  When we ran the Insider 7 days a week, subscribers slowed down, as did views.  3-a-week seems about right for that product.
  • You’ll need to cleanse your list annually or so.  Each year, we cleanse our list of dead email addresses and the like.  It’s a bit painful to lose 20% of your list, but it keeps your open rate up — and keeps the quality of your list high.
  • Open rates are probably the simplest KPI — if you aren’t monetizing your list.  Many B2C folks and ecommerce folks don’t care about open rates, they care about conversions.  But if the goal of your newsletter is to build your community, open rates probably are the most important KPI.  Because they show if you are remaining relevant.  If 20%+ of folks open every single email, you’re doing something right for your readers.  No matter what exactly they do with the content and links themselves.
  • Overmarketing leads to high unsubscribes.  I guess everyone knows this, but we are very careful on discrete promotional marketing emails.  We try to just to do a handful around our events.  If we send too many promotional emails, folks unsubscribe at 3x the rate, and the list stops growing.  Yes, you can segment your list into two groups, one for promotions, the one for valued content.  We sort of do that, too, partially.  But we still see high unsubscribes when we are promotional, no matter what.
  • 3 pieces of content per newsletter appears about ideal — for us.  We have a bit less data here, but it appears that 3 pieces of content per newsletter seems to perform the best for us.  More is too much to process.  For us at least, 1 piece of content style newsletters don’t lead to as much content read.

So nothing amazing here, other than for your newsletters, maybe worry more about cadence and quality, and less about design.  And keep going back to your top content.  It performs again and again over time.

(And if you love sponsoring newsletters, the ROI can be pretty high here!  Reach out to us here).

Published on March 2, 2021

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