James Cridland

Marketing a niche newsletter

A week ago, I did a promo swap with a popular daily newsletter that has 145,000 subscribers. That’s quite a lot, and I was quite excited to see what it would do.

The newsletter let me write the promo, which I did in their style, and it looked like this (my original copy had a tracking link):

* Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts. The industry is about to see a significant increase in attention, as YouTube prepares to jump in with a new fully-featured podcast section: something that Podnews podcasting news discovered in a leak. It’s just one of the stories it has covered over recent months, in a free daily newsletter that looks at the fast-growing global podcast industry. It’s not all Joe Rogan, thankfully.

They accepted it without any changes, which was nice (and they accepted my rewrite of their suggested copy too, for the swap in Podnews).

How did it do?

They saw 66,000 opens for their newsletter; Podnews’s link got 125 total clicks (88 unique). I got seven new subscribers because of it: including one person at Spotify, and one at Audacy (a large US broadcaster/podcaster).

Podnews’s webserver actually saw 161 requests for the page. 29 of those were obviously bots. 3 were people reloading the page. Weird.

We saw 133 page requests on the day it ran; and as you’d expect, a few more after: 10, 4, 7, and 6 on consecutive days.

Meantime, I delivered 11,000 opens for my newsletter; and I sent them 136 total clicks (I’d estimate 85 unique).

A few random observations

I had thought that this newsletter would deliver hundreds of new subscribers. Readers of a daily newsletter should be, I think, a good fit for marketing another daily newsletter. But, it got me just seven. Just goes to show to not make assumptions.

We had an agreement that we would balance the total clicks, which might have meant Podnews running their ad more than once. That, as you can see, isn’t really required: I delivered around six times the amount of clicks to them, based on open rate. There again, their product is interesting to all my readers; mine isn’t interesting to all of theirs.

I wrote some nice copy for them, lending a bit of brand recommendation (“it’s a great accompaniment to Podnews”, I think it said). I was keen to make it work: I didn’t really want to run the same ad more than once. The old ad copywriter in me was quite pleased that it worked for them.

Podnews is niche: it’s aimed at people in the podcasting industry; podcasting itself reaches 38% of the US population, so you can guess how small the addressable audience might be. Even though I made my copy as inclusive as it could be, namedropping YouTube and Joe Rogan, it didn’t perform very well. I wonder whether that was a fault of the copy. Reading it again, there wasn’t a clear call-to-action (“subscribe now”). Perhaps that would have made it work better.

However, once people had clicked through, if the 88 unique clicks is accurate that means that I had a 7.9% conversion rate from Podnews’s front page into new subscribers. Is this good? I think it’s good. I don’t really have any conversion statistics.

Anyway, I think I’ve wrung all the value from this experiment dry. If you’ve any ideas, please do let me know in the comments. What else should I be trying for? I’d love to know.