I’m back with the third update about my little side project, growth.email. If you haven’t kept up, here’s the previous articles I have written about this journey.
Given it has been a few weeks since my last post, and we are at the halfway mark of my original 3 month deadline, I want to share what I’ve been doing to attract new subscribers, and then provide an update on the subscriber and financial objectives again.
I uploaded a short video on YouTube, showing me scrolling up and down a recent issue, as a way to capture potential interest from people searching on related topics on YouTube. Since 11 January, it has been viewed 1,369 times which is fantastic.
Tried advertising on Reddit
I ran a small $10 ad campaign on Reddit, specifically targeting these subreddits;
It ended up costing me 38.5 cents per click, which although is possibly cheaper than some platforms, wasn’t as good as I had hoped. The fact only 14.46% of these subscribed, means it cost me $2.66 per subscriber, which isn’t good.
If you want to consider running ads in various subreddits, redditlist.com has a handy list of the most populated subreddits, which makes life much easier.
Posted a Top 20 list on Medium
Medium is a great place to discover content, with their tagging navigation, links to related articles in the footer of each post, and a huge community of people interested in start-ups, entrepreneurship and self development.
So, I looked through the click rates off the first four issues, collated the top 20 articles, and posted them as an article on Medium, tagging as many of the link writers as I could find, with Medium accounts.
I was fortunate to have Andrew Chen tweet a link to this, which resulted in around 50 new visitors, of which around 50% of these signed up to the newsletter as a result.
You can take a guess which spike was Product Hunt. That was by far the biggest contributor to new subscribers in the entire project lifetime of seven weeks.
Tracking goals in Google Analytics
One of the more important takeaways I have for you, is to ensure that you use the Goals feature in Google Analytics, to see how many visitors complete an action. There are plenty of blog posts out there, to show you how.
The above shows you the goals completed (that is, visitors signing up to subscribe) attributed to the source they came from. The average was 30.55% of visitors subscribe, which means 69% take a look and leave – that’s big room for improvement.
The best conversion rate was from a link I put in a Yammer community I belong to, at 44%, and the least was traffic from StumbleUpon, which is well known for 1 second visits, and no conversions at all. Visitors from my own blog subscribed 37.6% of the time, so thank you!
Spoke at Morning Startup
I was honoured to be invited to speak at Morning Startup, a fortnightly event here in Perth for the startup ecosystem. I had a great time putting together some slides about the project so far, and Jurgen from Niche Interview was kind enough to record a video of it. You can watch the talk I gave, however a warning: it is about 45 minutes long.
Book Giveaway experiment
As an experiment, I offered to give away a signed copy of my published book, The Principles of Successful Freelancing, during my Morning Startup talk to one new subscriber in the room. I had 14 people sign up during the 45 minute talk, so that’s not something I’ll repeat, given the $40 price tag of the book means it cost me $2.86 for each new subscriber from that test.
Add animated gif to success page
Since I migrated my email database from Campaign Monitor, to Mailchimp to reduce costs (Mailchimp give you 2,000 subscribers for zero cost), I noticed a slight drop in successful new subscribes.
It is well known that any double opt-in subscription flow has a significant drop off rate, between completing the form, and actually clicking the confirmation link in the resulting email. To help reduce that with growth.email, I used a free tool to whip up a super quick little animated GIF, which I use on the success page which is shown once you submit the form.
How did I go with objectives?
Now, let’s take a look at the growth I have managed so far.
Back in the first article, I mentioned that my minimum target was 500 subscribers, and a stretch goal was 1,500, so 500 new subscribers a month.
Well, at the halfway point towards the deadline of 31 March, I’ve managed to attract 1,164 subscribers so far. Thank you to everyone who has signed up!
As you know, I started with a budget of $99 for both setting up and maintaining the project for three months.
Well, so far I have spent $81.25 in total, which includes advertising on Facebook, advertising on Reddit, two domain names (I bought growthemail.com recently), email software and hosting.
However, I’ve done really well on the sponsorship front, having pre-booked all the advertising until the end of June! That’s an incredible $331, including the sponsorship income to date.
The only issue with allowing advertising so far in advance, is that once I go over 2,000 subscribers, Mailchimp will start charging me, and the Goodbits monthly fee goes from $8 to $25 per month (for up to 10,000 subscribers).
It means, let’s say 5,000 subscribers, I’ll be paying $92.13 per month, and making $64 per month in sponsorship. Lesson learned; I’ll not take sponsorship bookings at today’s subscriber totals for more than 6 weeks in advance.
An ideal CPM (cost per thousand subscribers) seems to be around the $25 per thousand mark, so 5,000 should net $125 per week, once we’re past June.
I’ve got some other experiments I wish to try, and a few thoughts on different models too. I’ll post an update on 3-4 weeks time, meanwhile if you haven’t yet signed up, please take a look at growth.email, thanks!