That's right. A newsletter in 2014. They're making a comeback, haven't you heard?
Before I started as The Verge's product manager, the newsroom was already set on making a newsletter — it was just a matter of how and when, and we had a lot to figure out: Should we do it? Using which technology? Will it integrate with our publishing platform? Who is going to write it and curate the content? What's our base user list? How do we grow it? What time of day will we send it?
Somehow, we managed to answer all of these questions and are now two months strong into a successful newsletter launch.
Should we do it?
We ultimately decided yes.
Using which technology?
We decided on SailThru because we already had a contract with them for SB Nation, and their platform is robust enough to stay with us as we scale.
Will it integrate with our publishing platform?
Not yet. It's completely manual, but I did make a sweet little Google Spreadsheets workflow using tabletop.js that very nicely outputs all the markup, meaning editors don't have to sift around in code or use a bad WYSIWYG editor.
Who is going to write it and curate the content?
We have one owner who is in charge of writing the content daily, but other editors contribute suggestions throughout the day to help inform the final stories that make the cut.
What's our base user list?
We started with every Verge user who had ever signed up for an account and opted into receiving an email newsletter. After concerns about spam traps, however, we narrowed that pool of users (dating back three years) to only the users who had been active on The Verge for the past year, then sent them a forced-re-opt in — basically, an email that said, "You once wanted to receive this, and we know your inbox is precious. If you still want it CLICK HERE." Doing this cut our initial user list by 75 percent, but it's a far more engaged audience.
How do we grow it?
What time of day will we send it?
We experimented a bit with 7 a.m and 11 a.m. and various times throughout the afternoon. We landed at the same conclusion as everyone else, though — they perform best around 4 p.m.