In June we made the switch from Mailchimp onto to our own Email Marketing Platform.
After using Mailchimp for so long, we were a little nervous!
We knew our platform was easier to use and looked better on mobile phones. But it would take a little work to get everything sorted out. Moving is hard. There are things that pop up that you don't expect. Would our readers like the change … or run screaming?
But we held our breath and jumped into the abyss. And after using the platform consistently for 3 months, what was the result?
Short answer: Our blog readership more than DOUBLED during that time.
What happened? Let’s look at the process and the results, step by step.
Moving our mailing lists over was less painful than expected. And it presented an opportunity for us to condense, consolidate and simplify.
Mailchimp is really, really in-depth. Really.
We had several lists, groups within lists, filtered segments… which is great, but we really didn’t need that level of control.
And because I had come in after generations of other people touching and fussing with it, it was fractured. Confused.
See, with Mailchimp you set up lists and put people into them. And if you need someone on two lists? Well, now you have TWO contacts. Duplicated.
This is good for Mailchimp: they charge by how many contacts you have. For us to manage everything the way we needed it, it was costing us around $300/month. That’s kind of a lot.
This way of managing contacts was not only costly, it was clunky. For example, almost everyone got a weekly blog email. This means that for each of our three lists to get the email, we had to make and send it three different times. Every. Week.
...and sometimes people would end up on multiple lists by accident. Someone would start as a Blog Subscriber… then gave us their email at a trade show, where they were added as a Prospect. Later, they bought a website and became a Customer. Now they’re on ALL THREE lists, and get the same email THREE times every week, much to their annoyance.
This also impacted our open rates, muddied that data, and caused a general frustration. Going through that data was difficult – we have thousands of customers, let alone blog subscribers and prospects. It was getting out of hand. We needed a change.
Because our address book is CONTACT based instead of LIST based, managing everything got a whole lot simpler.
Instead of making a list, then putting people in… we simply uploaded everyone into one big address book and gave them as many tags as they need. We use those tags to determine who gets what emails.
For example, everyone who is supposed to get the blog email is tagged #blog, along with whatever other relevant tags they can also have.
So someone can be a #Blog #Customer #VIP #Photographer, anything… and when it comes time to send an email, all I have to do is pick that tag and everyone who’s supposed to get that email will.
Cleaner, simpler. Less headaches for us, and for our customers!
So let’s talk design. Here’s our old email, right next to our new one.
Right off the bat, we see improvements.
We were using the RSS feed from Mailchimp, which simply scraped the top layer of content off our recent blogs … the first image, a couple lines of copy, the title … and then the system Frankensteined an email out of it.
Looks a little… bleh.
Our old email was plain and uneven (because images and text were auto-generated). It had unexciting text that didn't scream “OPEN ME!” We also had no say as to which articles were included, or in what order.
Even the fully designed promotional emails we sent had problems. Compatibility issues. Nicely styled emails built on desktop often looked weird on mobile phones. The tracking info that Mailchimp slapped onto our links sometimes broke how our own blog appeared (!?!), and wouldn’t let readers see images. It was wild.
Coming into the PhotoBiz email builder, the designs we began to make were immediately more visual and inviting. They looked great in mobile. And our links worked.
First thing we did was make to make a template we could use for campaigns going forward.
We made the decision to have really beautiful emails. We thought if our emails looked really good, more people would click through. More readers would be engaged. More people would stay on our website. And that’s the whole point.
We started with one of our pre-made templates and began to experiment. We tested out the bounds of what our platform could do. Came up with some good looks that got the job done. Based on the best response, we settled on a few designs that really captured our readers’ attention.
What impact did our new emails have?
Let’s look at the numbers. We’ll break it up into the 3 months before we switched, and the 3 months after.
We can see at a glance that we’re now getting way more pageviews (more than DOUBLE!) and more unique readers. They spend *slightly* longer on the page… and we have WAY more entrances. Also a lower bounce rate.
As for email performance, we noticed that our open rate remained about the same (this points to subject line performance) but our click through rate about doubled.
So while we didn’t see a change in the number of people who opened our emails, the ones who did were way more engaged – more users clicking twice as often as before.
If we look at another graph of traffic to our blog articles over about 16 months, the point really hits home:
An extreme, sustained jump in traffic that happened immediately after switching to our email platform.
Did changing email providers cause 100% of these results? It's hard to say, My guess is that it's a combination of factors.
During this time, we saw a moderate increase in organic search traffic, too. A few posts in particular performed exceptionally well. Perhaps we were producing better, more search-friendly content as well as better emails?
All I know are results, and man are they good :)
Easy email management with more readers clicking and reading posts. We can’t be happier with our little experiment.
We’ll keep you posted on what happens next! We’ve got some big ideas for the blog and email platform that could really make an impact – for you and for us, too!
If there’s anything we can do to help you design better emails or improve your business marketing, give us a call! Thanks for sticking around, and I hope you have an awesome weekend!