In this episode, Carin Slater provides behind the scenes at Litmus as she and her team plan, design, develop, test, and analyze the company’s 4 newsletters. She outlines their Agile Marketing process, creative freedom, and focus on engagement and accessibility in each newsletter they produce. Carin also discusses the extensive research and work that went into fully redesigning their flagship newsletter, Litmus News.
00:42 – Overview of the 4 newsletters Carin produces at Litmus
01:11 – Carin’s role in building Litmus’ newsletters
02:08 – Process for planning the Litmus News newsletter
03:08 – How the team collaborates on newsletter copy and content
10:35 – Using Jira for project management and tasks
11:03 – The Litmus team’s agile marketing process
16:24 – Process of building the Litmus weekly email
25:04 – Adding UTM codes for tracking
26:23 – Using the Litmus and Marketo tracking pixel
27:53 – Using checklist for auditing
30:35 – Optimizing QA testing for top email clients
35:14 – Tracking and analyzing link click rates
40:17 – Having fun with newsletter production
43:24 – Intermission questions
49:34 – Reason for redesigning the Litmus newsletter
53:18 – Incorporating user feedback into design
57:45 – Challenges with personalization
1:05:28 – What determines if the redesign was a success?
1:13:16 – Where to find Carin and subscribe to her newsletter
Stay in touch
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Welcome to Sticky, here from the best newsletter operators in the business on how to monetise, grow and run your newsletters. Today’s guest is Carin Slater. Carin works at Litmus as an email marketing specialist in the marketing department, where she builds all of Litmus’ newsletters. Her life motto and the name of her newsletter is I have no idea what I’m doing, which based on my interactions with her, I know to be a complete lie.
Today she’ll be walking us through the process of building all of Litmus’ newsletters, as well as their recent newsletter redesign. Before we continue, I have to apologise for my poor audio on this podcast. I accidentally recorded the entire episode with my AirPods. On the plus side, at least Carin sounds great and she does most of the talking. And with that, let’s get into the episode. Hey Carin, so glad to have you on the podcast. Hi, how are you? I’m excited to be here. Yeah, I’m so excited to have you.
I feel like we’ve been talking via Twitter DMs for a while now, and it’s really nice to meet you kind of face to face. Yeah, it’s always weird when that strictly text online relationship becomes like an, oh, hey, there’s a face and a person, and actually talking to them. It’s always exciting. I’m starting to do that more and more this year, so it’s kind of fun. Yeah. All right, so let’s head into the main section of our episode today.
We’re going to be talking about the Litmus newsletter. So you and your team build all of the newsletters at Litmus, and we’re going to go behind the scenes to learn exactly what goes into all of that. And from what I understand as well, you’re in the midst of redesigning your newsletter. We are. So we’re going to find out why you decided to do that, because we all know that kind of stuff. It’s a huge undertaking, and so you have… You usually have to have a really good reason to do that, and how it’s been going so far.
We need to begin with, we can start with you telling us what Litmus is. All right. So Litmus is, it’s a platform that you can use to build QA and collaborate with your team to make sure that your email is as error proof as it can be and accessible and that when it leaves the ESP, it’s as good as it can be. So you can build in Litmus and then I, let’s see, my whole process, when I build, I’ll build in Litmus, I’ll QA in Litmus.
I’ll send it to the rest of the team and then they’ll take a look at it and leave any comments. And then I sync it with our ESP and then I do one more QA check and then it goes out the door. So it’s kind of starts in it, starts in Litmus and it ends in the ESP. So yeah. Yeah. So I hope people listening can, if you didn’t already know what Litmus is, now you know why each of their emails need to be pixel-perfect, accessible. Wait, on the marketing team, we email market to email marketers, which is…
really fun and a lot more difficult than it is to email market to the regular non-email marketing people. When we run tests, I always can let you go in and you look at the data and I see all these fun edge case people of like, you’re an email marketer and you open the newsletter or you open the thing and then instead of clicking on the thing, you went to the webpage and clicked on a thing instead. And I’m just like, why did you? Oh wait, I do that too. Nevermind. The expectations are so much higher.
As you said, people are doing weird stuff to kind of push you guys to the limits. I’m sure that must be fun and also stressful. It’s fun and stressful. When you make a mistake, everyone lets you know, which is fine and helpful because chances are we already knew we made the mistake as soon as it went out. And then there’s always this moment of, oh, shit. And then you’re like, okay, wait, now what are we going to do? I was going to say on the plus side, we’re not something like HBO. So if we make a mistake, it’s not like everybody sees it.
Yeah, everybody’s human. Everybody makes mistakes. So I think it’s always after you make the mistake, it’s always like, okay, what are we going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? And I think our QA processes get a little bit longer every time. And then about once a year we’ll go through, I think Hannah’s just finishing up a review of our QA process right now to try and make it kind of bring it back down because it has so many different parts right now. So. Awesome. I’d love to talk about the QA phase.
So how many newsletters does Litmus have, and how often do they go out? Litmus weekly goes out weekly. Litmus news goes out monthly. The product pulse goes out monthly, and that’s specifically about the Litmus product and things that can help you use Litmus. Litmus experience is all about events, events that we’re hosting, events that other people are hosting that we’ll be at. I think that’s it. That’s four.
Four newsletters? That’s four newsletters. We had Leading Forward, but we are not doing that one anymore. Yeah, I think that’s it. I know I’m going to like, tomorrow I’m going to go to work and Jane is going to be like, when she sees this, she’s going to be like, you forgot this one and this one and this one, but I think that’s it. There’s other ones, but they’re like, not as like, they’re smaller little things. Or like ad hoc. Yeah. Right. And I’m guessing Litmus Weekly is kind of the one that…
a lot of the effort goes into just because it’s on a weekly cadence? It does. It’s also a lot more templated because it’s on a weekly cadence, and so we want to make sure it doesn’t take up all of our time. So it adheres to a template a lot more than like Litmus News has templated elements, but it also has a lot, we have a lot more fun with it, and we do animation in it, and we’ll do interaction in it, and we’ll…
put GIFs and all kinds of fun images and lots of different coding techniques. So that one’s a lot less templated. And then the Product Pulse has its own little design library that we use. So it’s got different modules, but those modules move within the newsletter. So it’s kind of like a halfway between the two. And then Litmus Experience is another one that’s pretty templated. So yeah. Cool. Yeah, I’ve definitely seen you talk a lot about.
the kind of pushing the boundaries with Litmus News and building the interaction stuff and all that kind of stuff. Litmus News is the one that we always have a lot of fun with. The last three months, we actually haven’t been having a lot of fun with it, mostly because we are working on redesigning it. So we kind of were like, let’s pull it back to basics and not…
have as many fun things going on in it. I tried to, um, I’ve started putting little animations on a lot of the emojis we put in there. So there’ll be, if there’s a hand, the CSS animations only work in Apple Mail, but if you’re opening on Apple Mail or in the browser and there’s a, like a, hand, an emoji waving hand, it actually waves now, I think nine times out of 10 it waves. I don’t want to get like, I’m, every once in a while I’m like, nope, nope, this was not waving because people need to break from the wave. So I’ve started creating a couple of those.
and popping them in whenever I can, because it’s fun. I like having those little things that are like a surprise and delight. And if I can do it with CSS instead of, instead of Hannah taking extra time and making a GIF that I do. Well, so you’re coding the animations in CSS. That must be a lot. When they’re tiny ones, it’s not. When they’re big ones, then it was. The October newsletter last year had a glitch effect where the images would glitch out or the words would glitch out.
And that one we did with CSS animation. And that one I actually, Jane Agada started on Agile Marketing last year, and it has been a lifesaver. So like the October newsletter, the coding for it, I actually started in like April. Oh, wow. And I would like take an hour here and work on this glitch. So overall, yes, it took a long time, but because I started it so early, it was like little pieces that got put together so that by the time I got to October, it wasn’t like a big.
It was like, all right, here’s the glitch. We’ll stick it in where we need it. And here’s this animation. We stick it in where we need it. So like I’ve always really open to change. And so when Jana came, she’s like, we’re going to do the actual work. And I was like, all right, let’s do this. And it, it has been really nice. I’ve really enjoyed it. And there’s a lot of times where like you spend the time setting the project up at the beginning and then.
because it’s all set up, I forget about it. And then like a week later, I’m like, hey, whatever happened to that project? And I go and check and I’m like, oh, it’s all set. I just need to wait for the day in which it starts and then it’ll play out the way it’s supposed to. So yeah, it’s been, I’m very thankful for Trina for implementing that. Can you tell a little bit more about what agile marketing is and how it’s been implemented? Yeah, I can tell you how we use agile marketing. So with agile marketing, there’s two week sprints.
And we have, I used to have it up here, but it got too hard taking this tasks and then putting it on the board. So now this is basically stuff that I’m working on. And then we have a board in JIRA that we’ll use and it’s, it helps make things more transparent because people can look and see, oh, this is in process. This is done. This, or this has been launched and now we’re in the reporting stage. And this is, so you can see where different tasks are throughout the thing. And then it also helps because it. You take.
big tasks and you break it down into smaller tasks. So like with the newsletter redesign, when we decided to do it, Jaina asked me to go in and put it all in here and think about how we were going to break it down and how we were gonna do it so that it, I think we started in April. So it took us like several months, including like user research and brainstorming and we’re actually coming up with a logo for the litmus. It’s…
It’s not just the litmus newsletter anymore. We now have it’s going to be litmus news and it’s got its own logo and its own branding, which it never had before. But like all of those little steps were all broken down. So upfront, you’re sitting here thinking about how to break everything down. But then as you go through, everything’s really well laid out. Everybody has stuff assigned, you know, when the due dates are and you can see how these tasks build together to make the big project that seemed like a big deal and not be such a big deal.
So how many projects or little things do you have in the JIRA blog? Like in minutes, it’s going to be like hundreds, right? So many. With our JIRA, we have like all of our newsletters. Each month has its own task. And then those are broken down. And with JIRA, it’s really automated. So it’s set up that when you create the newsletter task, it creates all the subtasks for you. So it’s kind of nice that way. So all of our newsletters have tasks.
Any project gets its own task. We’ve started doing a lot more testing this year and I’ve been taking over all the testing and I set up on automation. So whenever we do a test, all of those tasks get put down and that gets broken up over like a couple of months. That’s just the email team. We’ve gotten the whole marketing team on Jira now. So there’s the email team tasks and then the content teams tasks, the events teams tasks and customer and product and yeah, there’s a ton of them.
When we were first learning, I was always afraid to put stuff in because then the numbers kept getting bigger and I was like, oh no. And then I realized, oh, it doesn’t, the number doesn’t matter. The number can be as high as the number needs to be. And the whole team is kind of a business. And what were you guys doing before this? Before Agile, we still had tasks, but they weren’t as transparent. One person, it was mostly like Jaina was assigning them.
And I didn’t necessarily have insight into when the copywriting process was, or when the webinar was happening or when, and now it’s, I can go in and see. Every time I go to ask somebody a question on Slack, I go, wait a second. And I go and find it in Jira because it’s all really transparent now. So I can go and find all of that information. We were using Asana to do agile marketing for a while. And we ran into problems because the store, it was harder to keep track of story points. So yeah.
That’s another thing with Agile. So you assign a story point based on how long things are going to take. And that was a learning process for us to figure out. I think a lot of us on the email team would like underestimate how long something would take because we’re used to just, it takes however long it takes. And now it’s like upfront, you have to say, okay, this is going to be a large project. And so I would be like, yeah, this is only three story points. And then like half a day later, I’d realize, no, no, that was a lot more than the three story points.
So there was a lot of like growth pains at the beginning, trying to figure out how to evaluate and give values to different projects. But it’s been really nice too. I don’t, I don’t know about everybody on the team, but I don’t get as stressed out anymore because we don’t, we’re not as overloaded. And because of agile marketing, we’re able to say, nope, we’ve got so much time and we’re booked up and we can’t do that right now, but we will put it in the next sprint whenever we get people who like are really…
And it’s nice that the whole marketing team is on it because they understand. So that’s like, if we say, no, we don’t have enough, they’re like, okay, next sprint, whereas before there was a lot of last minute projects that were like, no, this needs to be done. It’s like, does it? Sometimes yes, it does, but, but not always. And I think that happens a lot in email. There’s a lot of, I think every email team I’ve ever been on, there’s always somebody saying, Hey, let’s make an email and get it out tomorrow. And you’re just like.
So, um, agile kind of gave us the vocabulary and the ability to say, no, when we needed to, and to really evaluate how things would break down and when we could fit them into projects. So that’s really cool. I guess like it makes the trade-offs much clearer because now you’ve put, you’ve dedicated time for each project. Right. And so even though last time there was still a trade-off, it would just kind of went surface or they went like articulated like right there in JIRA saying, you know,
If you do this, you have to take out that. Yeah, exactly. And like the October newsletter. So like I said, that ended up being fine. I started it super early by the time we got to it. It didn’t take me forever to put it together. The year before that, I think I spent like several days putting together the October newsletter because there was all kinds of different things that we wanted to do and it was always last minute. And we were like, oh, let’s do this. And so I’m like now searching and figuring out how to.
code it to make it work. So just having insight into what’s coming makes it so much easier for you to move forward and plan for things than just all of a sudden being like, oh, hey, we need to do this now. So one thing I’ve always found tricky with Agile or just kind of managing a Jira is some people are really good at updating it and some people are really bad. And that can kind of get out of hand really quickly. I think that’s not just Jira. I think that has happened at.
every project management tool I have ever used. There are just some people who are really good at it and some people who aren’t. And I poke them a lot in Slack when they’re really bad at it. I’m like, first you get to poke on Jira and then if nobody responds to that, then I’ll poke you on Slack a couple of times. And then at a certain point in time, I’m like, nope, we’re done, I’m moving on without you. I do find that in Jira, we seem to have more success with it and I’ve had to poke people less.
One of the things we also do since our team is kind of all over the place, we’re a remote company, we don’t do, we do our stand-ups asynchronously and we have a workflow in Slack. So at the end of your day you say what you are working on and then when I come in the next morning I can look through and see what everybody had been working on yesterday and where everybody is. So if somebody is behind I can tell what they’re behind on right away at the beginning of my day. It’s not always the beginning of everybody’s day but um…
Yeah, I think that helps just making sure you have that check in, even if it’s a remote team and you can’t do it all together in a meeting. Being able to see where people are is always helpful. Cool. So let’s talk about producing the emails. Should we focus on the Litmus News weekly email? Yeah, we can fit that one. As I say, it’s not the most…
It is the most fun. I think it’s the one that we spend more time on and we take more care with. That’s not to say that we don’t care about product, like the product polls through the litmus experience. But those are, there’s not as many moving parts. So we’ll have a team that writes copy, well, we have multiple teams that write copy all over the place. Our events team does, Alana does the copy for the events newsletter, and our product team does the copy for the product polls.
Whereas the Litmus newsletter is one that the email team and the content team, like, we do it all for that. Well, we, well, I guess let’s get into it. So when we start, we have a Google Doc framework that we work from. And at the top of that framework is a list of everything, the content that’s coming out that month. And then like Litmus news, all of our newsletters have a specific set date.
what’s coming out before that date and what’s coming out after that date content wise, because we’ll have a content calendar. And so we’ll make a list of all the stuff that comes out before the newsletter. And then on that Google Doc, we’ll just collaborate and say, what do we want to accomplish with this newsletter? What fits in with that newsletter? If we’re going to have a theme for the newsletter, then what fits in with the theme for the newsletter from the content that we’re coming out with. And that’s kind of like the planning phase, right? Yeah. How early does that start?
Like, is it start of the month and then the newsletter goes out at the end of the month or something completely different? The newsletter goes out at the end of the month. The June newsletter that’s going out at the end of June, we have started that right now. So it’s about a month and a half beforehand. Yeah. And then I think I got the note from Tracy a couple days ago. So we do that for like three days. And then there are months where I am too busy and I can’t.
join in. So there’s definitely people who are like more in charge of that, but it’s one of the things I love about working at Litmus is that it is collaborative, so I can jump in and they always let us know like maybe that’s part of Agile and being in Jira now, but like when something starts I can see that it started and I can jump in and add comments or suggestions or weigh in on something if I have time to, and if not I know that it’s in good hands and so it’s not the end of the world. So after we do all of that
we’ll have people going back and forth and commenting about what we want to put in. And then everything from there goes into the framework, so that when Kim or Abigail or whoever is writing the newsletter, they have exactly which…
content pieces we’re going to put where and then like in what position in the newsletter and then they’ll go through and write in that Google Doc all of the copy and put all of the links right there. So that’s kind of like our it’s our copy doc that’s where everything the design is built off of that and then I’ll refer back to it when I’m developing to make sure everything’s correct. That one the content team is very much in charge of they will ask us questions if we like if something’s possible if there’s a link that.
Oh, if there’s a dynamic content that they want to put in, they’ll ask if it’s something that we can do. But they’re usually pretty open and pretty free to be able to do whatever they want, which is kind of nice. I don’t know how long that takes. I can look it up. Probably a couple of days. Probably, I was gonna say probably a couple of days, maybe a week. And then it goes to Hannah and she’s got a couple of days to do the design. And yeah, so there’s a copies due.
and then it gets reviewed and then there’s final copy is due. It’s kind of the same cycle that we do through every period. So that’s the draft review and then final. And then Hannah makes the comp and then there’s a review and then she finalizes it. And then I make the email and then there’s a review and then I finalize it. So it’s kind of a pattern as it goes through all of these things. And then, so you get Hannah gets it and she has to put it all together. She works in Figma. And.
She’s got some tools that she uses to make GIFs and animations. No notes. And then… yeah. So she builds it in Figma, creates it in animations. Actually, she usually creates it in Figma and then will review it and she’ll be creating animations while I’m starting to build the newsletter. So I don’t necessarily have animations at the beginning of build, but I’ll definitely have them by the end.
That way it gives her a little bit more time if she needs to make anything complicated. And when we review the newsletter, that’s kind of when we start coming up with, I’ll bring forward any huge development issues that I see. If I do want to start animating things with CSS, that’s when we talk about it. We talk about things like Outlook support. And so like if she does something wild and crazy that I know nuts isn’t going to be supported in Outlook, I’ll be like, hey, heads up, this thing’s going to be supported. What do you want to do for the fallback instead?
Do you want me to spend two hours trying to figure out how to make it work? Because I will if we really want to do that. Most of the time though, my last job I worked at we did pharmaceutical emails. So when I said something wasn’t done in Outlook, there was a lot of no, you have to make it work. And I like being at Litmus because it’s like this doesn’t work in Outlook and it’s like, okay, well, let’s figure out what the best user experience is instead of trying to force something that doesn’t necessarily work.
and ending up with a ton of extra code. So it’s very much about what’s this going to look like in the inbox and providing the best experience for the client that people are gonna be opening on. So if rounded corners don’t necessarily create the most access, you can make rounded corners, but if they’re not the most accessible buttons or they’re not the most accessible thing to put in an email, so if we can live with squared off corners, let’s live with squared off corners and make it better for everybody.
So yeah, so that’s the design. After Hannah finalizes the design, I get the design and then I start from a template. And then we have design library blocks for the newsletter as well. And so I’ll add those as necessary and put in all of the copy, add in any colors, add in any animations, any interactive bits. And this is all done in Dengus, right? Yep.
Yep, our design library is in Litmus, so it’s a lot easier to just, because you could just pull the snippets in from wherever we have trigger copy. I just was talking to someone, one of our, um, Jess Meturna is on the customer team and I was just talking to her yesterday and she was like, hey, how does this work? And I was like, I knew that Litmus did that, but I had forgotten that it did that. And so I was like, okay. And so I looked into it and I was like, oh, this is so much fun. And like
My brain went in like 50 different directions about how to use it. If you have snippets, you can add in little bits in the snippet so that when you bring the snippet in, it jumps right to those edit points. And so you can edit those points right away. The downside is it only works in the code editor. It doesn’t work in Visual Builder. So I was like, well, I don’t want to create two snippets, one snippet for Visual Builder and one snippet for code. So I was like, I’m…
Just going to put this on the back burner, and I’ll figure out how to use it later for right now. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. So yeah. But yeah, I build it all in Litmus. And we just changed the build tool. So in the past, there’s the code editor, and then you could see the previews right next to it. You saw the builder, and then you could see previews. We just brought the QA check in. So now I can edit it when it’s in the browser version. And then I can check the previews.
And then before I even go out into like the QA tab, I can just do the QA right there as well. So it’s kind of, it’s nice. I don’t leave the build tab. I just do everything myself. So I’ll build it, check previews, make any tweaks. And then I go to the QA tab. And usually when I go to the QA tab, I forget that I didn’t put UTM codes in and have to go back and add all the UTM codes, but that’s what it’s there for. And that’s why we have it. Who creates the UTM codes? I do.
Or Tracy does. Or yeah, either I, Tracy or I. Tracy’s the email marketing manager at Litmus and she’ll create, or I will. But with the newsletters, they’re standard. So there’s one UTM codes that we use across everything. So I just have to find those. But for the one-off campaigns, we have a standard way that they’re created that’s based off the naming convention.
We have a naming convention that we use in Marketo, and it’s kind of permeated everything. So our UTM codes have the same naming convention, and the way our system is organized in Litmus Builder is similar to Marketo, so that you can find anything and everything’s named the same, which is very helpful when we realized we should do that. But yeah, so the UTMs, and then Litmus has a UTM manager, so you just put the UTM in, and then it parses the code and puts it in.
in all the different places where it needs to go. And I add a Litmus tracking pixel at the bottom. And when I go through the QA… Well, why do you add a Litmus tracking pixel? Like, wouldn’t Marketo add their own tracking pixel? Ha! Marketo does add its own tracking pixel. And it makes sense. It means that I can keep track of opens and stuff in Marketo as well. In Marketo, we track the unique open rate in Litmus.
we track the non-unique open rate, so it’s how many opens there are. And Litmus’s tracking pixel is a lot more detailed. So in Marketo we can get the unique open rate. In Litmus, we can also find the read rate. We can also find out how many people are opening in dark mode. We can find out what the top five email clients that people are opening on.
Oh, Apple. Apple MPP opens. So we can find out how many people are opening. And I think our audience is about 30% MPP opens. And we can also tell how many people are opening desktop versus mobile versus webmail.
So it just gives us a lot more insight than what Marketo tracking pixel does. I like them both for their own different things. And we definitely use both of the information when we do all of the reporting. I have a Google sheet with columns for everything. So our Google sheet that I created has space for stuff coming in from Litmus and space for stuff coming in from Marketo so that we can put everything together in one report instead of having to open a million different things.
So yeah, we have a litmus tracking pixel, UTM codes, test all the links, check the previews, like I have an actual checklist. I’m like doing this in my head, but I have an actual checklist in JIRA that I use. Um, You want to take a second and pull it out? Oh, sure. Cool. Did you get it? I did. All right. So let’s talk testing checklist. So my checklist is… And this is the checklist you said that you are…
Kind of auditing and trying to cool. Well, no, this is, this is my personal build checklist. It’s got 31 items on it. And this is before I even send it off to be QA. With the goal being that when I send it off to QA, people shouldn’t have to worry. Like it shouldn’t be broken in any email clients. The links should work. The UTM code should be there. And that gives, opens it up so that when.
Hannah looks at it, she’s our email design specialist. When she looks at it, she can just focus on the design and make sure that it looks right or not copy ended up in the wrong place or the colors are off on this image or something else is wrong. And then when Kim looks at it from a copywriting standpoint, she can focus on just the copy. She doesn’t have to focus on all of the little, teeny tiny things that should have been. So I…
I have a section that basically is just kind of like a checklist for making sure that the design and litmus builder matches the comp. I have a section to run through the checklist, the litmus checklist, so that’s the QA process in litmus, just making sure I go through all of the things that are there. I have a checklist that’s specifically for the EA pixel, that’s the email analytics pixel, because I have to add it, but then in order to…
use it to its best extent. We also make sure it’s tagged so that we can filter so that we can see all of the newsletter. We can group maybe I want to see what Litmus News looks like or maybe I want to see what the Litmus Weekly looks like altogether and aggregate those reports. We have to make sure that there’s an expiration date on them and when I set up the newsletters, I usually set them up like a month in advance and if I put the EA pixel in that then it’s
to come back to it, so I have to make sure that that’s in the correct place. I did not know pixels expired. Oh yeah, I did not know pixels expired either until I started working at Litmus. And I don’t think necessarily all pixels do, but Litmus pixels do, so after a certain point in time they stop taking in the data, which is kind of nice. I have sent out a tracking pixel.
without changing the expiration date and that went out after the expiration date and we got no data back on it. So that was when that stuff got added to the QA list. So yeah, I have a section for dynamic content, which sometimes there’s no dynamic content. So that section gets struck. And then I have a section for checking like the subject line and the preview text and making sure those are in and correct and let miss builders so that they look correct throughout. And that’s my checklist before it even goes to anybody else.
And then our QA process, and this is the one that Hannah was auditing, is we have one person usually look at the design, we have one person look at the copy, and then we have one person look at everything and check the links. And for a long time we were checking in maybe not all 100 email clients, but a lot of the 100 email clients that Litmus has. And we realized maybe we limit the…
because it takes a long time. So we’re looking at, I will check the large number of them when I’m building, but then when we get to the second person QA-ing, we’re gonna pick out the top email clients. And that’s where having that tracking pixel is really helpful, because we know what our top email clients are. And so when Hannah looks at it, instead of looking at all of them at that point, she looks at a smaller number of them. So that speeds it up. And then it also depends on, like if it’s a template, Litmus Weekly.
then she can look at an even smaller number because that’s something that we test every two months. So we know it works. So she shouldn’t have to worry about Samsung mail that we have not that many opens on. So yeah. And then after that’s QA’d, then I go through and make any changes that have come up in the QA process. And I sync it with Marketo. I send out a final test. Are you the only developer that QA’s it? Yes.
Is there a separate? No, I’m the only developer that QA’s it. Hannah and Jaina both have HTML experience. So if they see something, they’ll say something, but I am the only one that looks at the code all the way from the beginning, all the way through. I do appreciate that if something’s broken, you usually see it, which is kind of nice. It’s not like, as much as it’s frustrating for email, it’s not very forgiving.
for the code. I know sometimes like when I was coding for web pages, it would just be like, oh, I missed a carrot, but it’s okay. Cause the browser knew what was going on. If you miss something in email, somebody somewhere like Outlook or Gmail will be like, Hey, hey, you missed something. So yeah. Everything is now like 100 and no spaces and a hundred pixels wide. Yeah. It’s blown out.
And I love it when it’s Gmail too, because Gmail is like, you missed a semicolon. And I was like, they don’t tell you that, but you’re like, I don’t understand. It’s like going through the code to find that one semicolon that’s missing. But yeah, and then once it’s in Marketo, I send out one more test. And as long as that’s fine, then it’s ready to go and it gets scheduled. And that’s like for the build side of it, from build to send, the build, the QA and the finalizing.
That’s usually three days, four days, something like that. Three to four days, maybe five. I think Litmus Weekly is definitely from creation to send is usually three or four days. Litmus News probably is closer to 10 days. Right. So typically newsletters take five days, five to seven working days to build, if not.
10 days with the redesign. Yeah. Five, I would say five to seven days to build and QA. And then if it’s a more involved build, then we would add more time to it. So probably 10 days. Gotcha. Okay. So zooming out, the whole process starts as planning, then copy and content, design, development, testing, stand, and finally reporting. Yep. So let’s talk about reporting now. All right. Cool.
Reporting happens a week after we send the newsletter, and I take all of the data from Marketo, which is our ESP, and all of the data from Litmus Tracking Pixel, and I also look at Google Analytics and follow up with the UTM codes, and I put that all into a wonderful Google Sheet, and then I use that Google Sheet to create a dashboard.
or it feeds into a dashboard that I’ve created. On a regular basis, we look at click-through rates. We look at, we look at opens, but not as a performance metric, more as a health metric, to make sure everything is looking similar to what it’s looked before. There’s no spikes or giant dips. We look at unique clicks for like how specific articles and blog posts performed.
I keep track of with UTM codes where people are clicking. So are they clicking on an image? Are they clicking on a headline? Are they clicking on the buttons? So that we can use that to inform, I think most of the time, our clicks come from buttons. For a while we had an events section in the Litmus newsletter and we had both the image and the text linked and we kept ending up, that was one of the problems we kept having a mistake because…
one of them would get changed and the other one wouldn’t. So it would have an old link from a previous. When do we buy it would get changed? Oh, okay. You like copy and paste it in. Yeah, and so it would have an old link in it. And so we finally just realized there were too many, too many places to change links. So we looked at, that’s when we looked at, okay, what is getting the most clicks? And in that case, it was the text links. So we just dropped the links off the images. So now we don’t even have an events section because now we have an events newsletter. So we put them over there.
But it’s something that we carried over. And if you ever have, if you ever see, we have like little banners in our newsletter sometimes and those images aren’t linked because that was one of the things that just, it wasn’t getting as many clicks as the text links were. And it was just another room for error to be introduced. And so we got rid of it.
Newsletter Glue cuts your publishing time in half by enabling your team to publish newsletters the way you publish articles in WordPress. Find out more at newsletterglue.com. Now back to the episode. But that’s one of those things where we’re keeping track of those metrics and it was able, we were able to make the decision because we were like, this is what’s getting the clicks. This is where we’re going. You have an idea of the ballpark of the clicks, like with the images? In the breakdown, it’s, so we have…
In the newsletter, you have the image that’s linked, the headline that’s linked, and the CTA that’s linked. And it’s CTA. CTA meaning button? The call to action with the button? Yeah, sorry. CTA is the button. And it’s not loading, so I’m not 100%, but I’m pretty sure the button gets like around 56% of the clicks. And then the headline follows up, and then the image after that with like 20%.
So 56% with the button, what was the headline? The headline is usually somewhere around 30. 30. And then the image is somewhere around 20 or it would be 14, 15 to 20%. And so that kind of 15 to 20% just ended up not being worth it because the links all be forgot, like you forget to update them and all that kind of stuff. Yeah. It just, it was those 15 to 20% were getting served the wrong link.
So like, even if you were clicking on that, it’s like, well, you’re clicking, but you’re getting the wrong link, then you’re upset and I’m upset and nobody’s happy. And I would much rather just have you click on it, realize it’s not clickable and then go click the other thing instead. So yeah, that was our reasoning, our thinking behind that is, I’d rather have you click and have nothing happen than click and be taken to some place that you didn’t wanna go to. No experience is better than a bad experience. But yeah.
So we took a tangent there. Yeah. We look at open mates from a health metric. I’m like, you’re looking at the dashboard now, unsubscribe rates and bounce rates. Again, like looking for spikes and changes in those. Something we’re always keeping an eye on too is our audience sense size, just to make sure we’re not getting huge amount of bots, if it jumps randomly between months, that’s an issue that we’ll look into.
We also have those sentiment polls at the bottom of the newsletter that, you know, asking people how things look or whether they like the newsletter or not. So when one of those spikes, that’s something for us to be like, Hey, I mean, we don’t really have a follow up, so we can’t ask you why, but we can look at what the content was in there. If something was broken, maybe that’s something that contributed to it. So it’s something for us to keep an eye on.
And one of the things I love about the Google dashboards that I set up is I do have a visual graph that shows us year over year. So I can choose which metric I’m looking at. And so I can say, oh, click through rate, yes, it’s lower, but it’s still, it follows the same trend as it did last year. So it’s nice to be able to look at that. So I am not freaking out if it’s a really low click through rate, if it was March and March is historically a really low click through rate time. So yeah.
So I’ll go through and I’ll do all the metrics and look at that and then I’ll break it down and I’ll share it with the email team and any stakeholders. We have Slack channels for each of our newsletters. So I’ll share it in that Slack channel with our stakeholders and kind of break down what were the most popular links and what the click through was and how the audience size was and all the fun little tricks. Yeah. Cool. And then that’s the end of the newsletter and then we can close the task on Jira and start working on the next one.
Cool. Does it get, I don’t want to use the word, but I’m going to say it anyway, does it get Monday? Like, kind of working on the day-to-day stuff, day in, day out? It doesn’t. And I have to say a big part of that is the team that I’m working with. Hannah’s designs are, when we’re not, like the last three months, like I said, we…
pulled it back and so it was a little bit more bare bones. But when we’re not bare bones and like, I am so excited for people to see the redesign. Like, oh my gosh, we had so much fun with that. And I’m so excited to see what Hannah does with it going forward. Cause she’s like, we designed the template that it’s gonna be based off of. And like…
She puts so much fun stuff into the design and Kim puts so much fun stuff into the copy and then by the time I get it and like just seeing all of the puns that Kim puts in and like Hannah’s like, guess what? There’s going to be popcorn in the background this month and I’m like, how do I code popcorn in the background? What is going on? So it’s just, it’s a delight.
Litmus Weekly, even though it’s weekly, it’s so much fun because we have different hosts and so I never know what kind of stuff it’s going to have in it and what kind of voice it’s going to have. And then it’s fun when I’m coding Litmus Weekly and somebody’s like, and Carin Slater, and I’m like, wait, that’s me. Oh, what am I doing? And then I’ll like put little like inside notes to this reader based on what I was feeling as I read that. And so it’s so much fun. And yeah.
I just have so much fun making the newsletters. Even at like Project Pulse, we have the tip of the month at the end of the newsletter and I’ll go and I’ll check that and I’m like, oh I didn’t know that! And so like I’m coding and learning as I code that newsletter up. Yeah. I’m just, it’s so wonderful and delightful. Even when they’re like boring templates that we’re using because the team has just put so much into it. It’s totally…
I actually have more fun with the newsletters than I do with like the standalone one-off things being so much to them. Which when we send out the
Like if we have a webinar that’s coming out or content piece that’s coming out, those are much more templated even than the newsletters are. And so those are a lot of like copy paste, copy paste, copy paste. And I think we spend a lot of time with the newsletters. Oh, we do have fun with the web content. We put that interest tracker in, started putting that interest tracker in. And so that was a fun way to personalize that. We just have a lot of fun. That’s really cool. Anyone from Litmas, HR listening to this? This is.
Probably like two minutes, perfect employment, marketing, employee marketing. Yeah. Put this on your careers page. Come work at Libris. It’s a lot of fun.
Let’s go into our intermission. I have a bunch of questions. Feel free to answer them in a word or a sentence or how we want. All right. First question, Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy? Guardians of the Galaxy, hands down. I love both of them, but Guardians of the Galaxy.
Yeah, especially the third one. I just watched it twice, and I want to watch it again, and I can’t, because I don’t have time to go to the theater again. I have to wait till it comes out on streaming. Aww. I haven’t watched the third one. Is it that good? It’s brilliant. I really liked it. I liked it. It was fun, and it was not like so many times when you get to the third movie, it’s just not as good as the rest of them, and this one, I would say, is on par with the rest of them, which was really fun. Yeah, sometimes, like, with these…
hero movies, it can kind of feel like they’re just milking like every dollar out of out of it. But then you get to the third boss, the sixth one. Yeah, I feel like they did a good job of like introducing new characters in this one and uh really lifting up characters that you didn’t see lifted up in other ones. So it was very much like a story about Rocket and like his family. Yeah, it was it was really good. I liked it. Cool. What’s your favorite kind of pie? That is a hard question.
Uh, probably I’m going between two. It’s either peanut butter pie or birthday cake pie. I saw you write about birthday cake pie. No concept of that. Yeah, that was, I think that was my first newsletter. My first newsletter was birthday cake pie, I think, because I’d never made it before. And it’s really good. I just made one the other day again, because I wanted to. And it’s close to my birthday. So I was like, I’m going to make a pie. But yeah, it’s, it’s really good.
I never have the right sprinkles though, so that’s a problem. What’s birthday cake pie? It’s like a custard pie. It’s cream and sugar and eggs that you make into like a meringue and then you mix it in with everything and then you cook it and it ends up kind of like a custard, not as thick as cheesecake, but not pudding. And it has vanilla and a teeny tiny bit of almond flavoring in it. And then…
You’re supposed to use a specific kind of sprinkles so that they don’t bleed into the thing, and I never had those sprinkles, so I ended up just making the pie without the sprinkles. Yeah, in my head I was thinking of it kind of like a pie crust with actual birthday cake on top of it. That seemed really intense. That would be delicious as well. No, this is a pie that tastes kind of like birthday cake, but… It reminds me of a sugar cream pie, which is slightly different but also delicious.
But yeah, it’s very sweet. If you’re not a sweet person, then don’t go with peanut butter pie instead. Cats are dogs. I like having cats. I love dogs that are somebody else’s dogs so that I can hand them back to their owner and then they can take care of them and find some place to hold them when they go on vacation. I love my cats. And yeah, they just have…
I don’t have to leave them, like I can leave them by themselves if we go away for a weekend, whereas if we had a dog, we have to find somebody to… There’s a lot of responsibility with dogs and cats feel like they’re kind of like people. Outside of work, what’s something you’re really really into? Right now, Zelda. Normally I do a lot of reading and I play a lot of board games, but…
Right now, literally every minute I’m not working or taking care of children, I’m playing Zelda. I was playing Zelda like 15 minutes ago. All right, last question. Would you rather let your kids choose your clothes for a year or cut your hair for a year? There are no budget for the clothes they can buy, so whatever they feel like buying, you have to wear. That’s hard. On one hand,
I don’t want them cutting my hair, but on the other hand, my daughter is really into like 90s clothes right now and I already did that once. I don’t necessarily want to do it again. I guess I’d have to let them buy my clothes. They just have to, they’re just buying my clothes. Do I still get to put the outfits together based on what they bought? No, like they’re dressing. They’re dressing me? Yeah, I’d have to let them dress me. I can’t. My hair grows too slow. Every morning they lay your clothes out on bed, you know?
Yeah, my hair grows too slow. So like, if they cut my hair, I would be stuck with it for like, probably a year. So I’d rather have clothes that is like, okay, fine. I can explain that a little bit. My kids picked out my clothes and they’d be like, oh, that’s cute. And then after six months, it might not be as cute anymore. Okay. So while we were chatting, I put your answers into ChatGPT and got it to write you a limerick.
Oh, wonderful! So I’m gonna read out to you. Oh, fun! I like that! Can you send that to me, Lesley? Yeah, for sure.
I don’t know where I’m going to put that but I will be putting it somewhere. Hey!
Alright, so we talked a lot about the process for how the card newsletter is produced. Now let’s move into the redesign. So let’s start with why you guys decided to do a redesign. Couple of reasons. One we wanted to. I’ve been at Litmus for almost three years.
And it has had the newsletters pretty much been the same the entire time and so we thought it would it’s kind of like time for a refresh one two The newsletter has always just been this the litmus newsletter. It doesn’t have a brand it’s a newsletter that let me put out and we have like strategy behind it and the fact that
We want to surface content and get people to our blogs and introduce people to the thought leadership that we’re doing and that’s kind of been the goal. But outside of that, we haven’t really thought about where the newsletter fits in, especially now that we have more newsletters, where that newsletter fits in relationship to the other programs we have running. And so we wanted to sit down and figure out what we wanted to do with the newsletter and how it fits in overall. So that was what we…
sat down and were like, okay, let’s actually give it a brand. Let’s decide, give it a name. All of our other newsletters have fun names. We’ve got Litmus Weekly, we’ve got Product Plus, we’ve got Litmus Experience, and then we have…
The newsletter that I mean, even when you looked at it, when you got it, it said, let me send view and browser and then it had the content, but there was no name. There was no branding to it. So you wanted to give it a, a life and a personality of its own. So that was a big part of the reasoning behind it. Yeah. We are trying to make our whole email program a little bit more holistic and, um,
If you look at Litmus Experience and Product Pulse and Litmus Weekly, they have a very similar look and feel and Litmus News, the newsletter always kind of was its own thing. So if we can bring it all together, that was a big part of the goal. And so we sat down and we had a kickoff call and we talked about what we were doing and why we were doing it and how long we thought it was going to take and when we thought we could get started on it. And yeah.
So the kickoff cult was the start of it. And then we had a brainstorming doc. So we brainstormed different names that we could bring in and we ended up just settling on the Litmus News, or Litmus News, which is what internally we’ve been calling it this whole time. So it was kind of like, let’s share this with everyone. And we kind of brainstormed different things that we wanted to highlight in the newsletter and what we wanted to do with it.
We had a Figma doc where we were throwing different people’s newsletters that we liked and writing down what we like about it for inspiration. That was the fun. I mean brainstorming is always the fun part. You just bounce ideas off of each other and see all kinds of fun stuff. And then Hannah was like we should do some user surveys and find out instead of just saying this is what you want. We want to do with the newsletter. Let’s find out what our subscribers want and I’m so glad we did.
Because not that we were going to do something huge and different with the newsletters, going to go in a completely different direction, but what we were thinking of doing with the newsletter would have moved slightly away from what our users or our subscribers were expecting from our newsletters. So it was, we were thinking about going more of a learning aspect and a teaching aspect, and we heard a lot of people come back and say…
No, we, oh, they didn’t say no because they didn’t know that they’re still here doing that. They’re saying we want to know, we want to know what the trends are in the industry. And we want to know what industry news is happening right now. And we want to bookmark the content. We were thinking about putting more of the content in the newsletter. And a lot of people were saying we’d rather bookmark it for later. We’re not going to necessarily sit and read the newsletter. So it kind of helped us inform how we designed it. And instead
Not instead of going in this direction, we kind of took that user research and incorporated it and maybe shifted a little bit so that we could find something that was more middle ground that still helps teach people and share our thought leadership and everything, but it still includes industry trends, industry news and
I’m so excited. I just want to like, I want to like pull out screenshots and show you guys everything. I’m excited as well. I’m really proud of the way we went about it because it wasn’t just, Hey, let’s do this. It was very, listen to the subscribers and… Can you talk a little bit more about that? So you sent out a survey to subscribers, presumably from that newsletter itself, right? So in the Litmus News newsletter, how many times did you send it out? Once? Twice?
That is an excellent question. I think possibly twice. Right. It’s definitely like, there’s definitely very engaged members of our audience and there are less engaged members of our audience. But the thought process was very much like, if they’re willing to tell us what they think about it, then obviously they care. Yeah. How many subscribers do you have and how many responded to your song?
I have no idea and I have no idea. No, we have, I think, about 50,000 subscribers. I don’t know how many exactly responded to the survey. I know it was significantly less. I don’t even know because I break it down with customers versus prospects. So I don’t know what the overall click through rate is on our email. I should really, our prospects click through more than our customers click through. So customers, start.
Clicking more. We’ve tried to, we actually tried personalizing the newsletter and we did find that personalizing versus customers and prospects was not, we did a test where we sent the customer’s prospect version and the customer version and they liked the prospect version better than they liked the customer version. So we stopped personalizing and just made one version. One of the things that the newsletter does very well, I think, is acknowledge the fact
that there’s a lot of email marketers that wear more than one hat. We even saw that in our state of email workflow that we just finished. I might be a developer, but I like learning about strategy and I like learning about deliverability. So that newsletter has aspects from all over the place. So we have tried on multiple times to personalize it and give people just like, you’re a developer, here’s a developer stuff. It just does so much better when we serve up.
lots of different content so that people can figure out lots of different, for all of the different hats that they wear, there’s always something in the newsletter. So yeah, I don’t know how many, how many people responded. I know it was a lot less, but it’s, it was enough to give us an idea. Yeah. What went into the survey? Like, was it mainly, uh, what do you call it? Like multiple choice or was it open-ended? Uh, it was a multiple choice and I think there were some, um, open-ended questions, but.
Like, one of the questions I remember was like, what are you most interested in interacting with in litmus and how do you interact with litmus and what features would you make the most use of? So it was very much asking those kind of questions. It’s one of those things we always ask, like when we ask what kind of features you want to learn about, it’s like…
dark mode and accessible. It’s like the same things keep popping up. Everybody wants to know these things. I want to know those things too. I know. We try to diversify and everyone’s like, no, stop it. Stop it. Just give us the things we want to know. Okay, fine. So yeah, one of the other things we thought I thought was really interesting that we found was we asked if one of the options was, do you want to have your content personalized? And a lot of people said yes. And we were like, okay.
How? How? How? It’s one of those like, there’s things you know, you know, there’s things you know you don’t know, and then there’s things you don’t know you don’t know, and things you don’t know you know. And also what you’re asking for isn’t necessarily what you actually want. You guys think you want personalization, but when we do it, you don’t like it.
I don’t know if I’m willing to give it to you. I feel like in people’s minds, when they talk about personalization, they have this like really magical machine learning algorithm that like tracks them across the web, knows exactly what email marketing topics they’re interested in. And then like, they want you to be able to create like on a one-on-one level, individualized personalized email.
Here are the topics, Tom, that we think you are going to be interested in. And like, that’s possible if you sign up and pay $10,000 for a newsletter and also give up like a large degree of your privacy. Yeah. But if you’re not willing to do that, then personalization newsletters actually generally like aren’t great. And so, yeah, it’s totally like the case where people say that they want it, but they don’t really know what it entails and what they’re actually asking for.
Yeah, there’s people who are like, I want personalization and then they turn on MPP and I’m like, well, sorry. Those are not conducive. I get, I totally get why. I don’t have an Apple device, so I don’t have MPP, but I definitely have like. Ad blockers on my browser. So I totally get it, but it’s at the same time. I’m like, that’s, that’s my, I turned off Google location.
like tracking on my phone. And I was like, like, I definitely noticed a quality of like things that were recommended to me. I’m like, oh yeah, that’s why I do that. So it’s really interesting doing user surveys because I like seeing the insights. But then it’s like, you can’t always give people what they want. So you kind of have to take those user surveys and use them to help inform. Help.
inform strategies based on based on those things. But yeah, we did that for two weeks. And then Hannah worked on the design and she and one of the other things we talked about was, OK, so the user research was focused more on like how you want to consume the content and what kind of content you want to consume and like why how you use the newsletter currently. And then Hannah took that.
and created, and this is kind of the way we’ve done all of ours, is she created a giant template with lots of different modules based on that research and based on what we’ve done in the past and what we would want to include. And then I think she had like three different mock-ups with different modules and different designs for how those modules could work and what they could look like. And then…
She opened it up to the team and we all reviewed it and said what we liked, what we didn’t like. She had a whole board of different logos. And we were talking about different parts of the logos that we liked and different parts that we didn’t. And that’s always fun because somebody will like this one and somebody else likes this one. And it’s like, okay, who makes that decision? And I don’t know. It wasn’t me. I did not make that decision.
There’s stuff that all of us like and there’s stuff that some of us like, but it all, it all came together really, really well. And then after we do that, she takes all of the input and magically somehow takes all of that input and turns it into one giant template that has all of the different modules that we would use in the newsletter. Obviously, we’re not going to use them all.
in one newsletter because it would be very, very long. And then I code that giant email and that’s the template that we start from when we start building the newsletters. And it’s great because I’ll code it in Litmus and then I save it.
And the design library is a template. And then I can also, Litmus has an, I call it the easy button. You highlight the sections and you turn it into a snippet. So you don’t have to like go someplace else. I can just build the whole thing and then make snippets right off of the newsletter template that we created. And that was, I finished that up. I don’t know why I announced, I was on Twitter being all excited about it while I was coding it. I think I coded it in a couple of days. And then,
Oh, that was fun too, because I don’t know how much I could talk about it. I’m so excited. This is the newsletter uses fun, like design wise, it’s fun. It was a fun design, but then I took her designs and I really feel like between me and the team and different ideas that came up as we were looking at the design, we really, I think it actually like comes to life. Like, yeah, so cool. Yeah. There’s, if you get a chance to look at it, when you get it.
Don’t just look at it in your email client, open it in the browser, take a look at all the fun stuff that happens. There’s really cool, I mean, we got faux positioning at one point, we’ve got gradient backgrounds, we’ve got CSS animations. So many email clients, or what email clients, do gradient backgrounds work or don’t work for? I have a Post-it note for that. They work in…
Apple, all iOS, they work in Gmail and they work in Samsung. And then we use background images to make them work in AOL, Yahoo, and Outlook’s web app as well. So the only place they do not work or they do not show up is in Outlook desktop apps. Right. And that’s because Outlook desktop doesn’t have the background and image. I mean, yeah, background image and text on top. Is that right? Yeah.
You can put them in, you gotta use VML, which is a specific vector markup language to do it, but that has a tendency to cause more problems and have issues with others. Like, you start introducing more things and it just kind of goes downhill. So I think we do have some emails in the past where we have made the gradient backgrounds work in Outlook, and then on like…
Windows 11, because we did that, none of the images show up anymore. So it was kind of like a, let’s not do that. It’s one of those things where you’re really serving the client where they are, the subscriber where they are. If you’re opening an Outlook, then you’re kind of, it’s not a bad experience. So like, none of the, one of the things we do is like, none of the experiences is bad, it’s just better.
at different events. The mom, what then, your email client is? Yeah, so if your email client can handle it, then you get served the more things. And if your email client can’t handle it, then you get served whatever. But it’s very much designed and coded from a point where, I mean, like we use our screen reader in Litmus when we do a QA check. So I like, I finish coding it and then I push play on the screen reader and I listen to what the email sounds like. Now
Not every screen reader is the same, but it is a common screen reader. So I could use that to hear what it sounds like. And I’ll go in and throw in some ARIA tags to make things sound better by changing, like hiding different sections or images if I need to. I think you can do some fun things to make your email successful if you take a little bit extra time. And I, yeah, I enjoy doing that. That’s really cool. So yeah.
Yeah, so it’s all tested at this point and the framework is set up and the design is set up. And so now we’re getting started with the June newsletter and making content for it. So we can actually put it all together. Exactly. Do you have kind of like metrics or even if it’s like qualitative metrics, well, what determines if the redesign was a success? Like, oh, if something, something happens, or if we see this, like we’ll know that it’s going to be a huge success.
I know I do have like metrics that we usually do when we’re doing testing that I look for to say whether something’s a success or not. And we did talk about when we were doing the planning stages of this, we talked about do we want to test it? And we were like, I think this is going to be the audience we’re sending it to. It’s going to be very obvious that there’s a test going on. If half of the audience gets the old newsletter and half of the audience gets the new newsletter, we were like,
This is not going to go well if we do that. So really part of the reason we went back to the basics for the past three months is so that we have some historical data of how that works. We have the sentiment polls, we have click through rates, we have open rates. We know what it looks like. This is one of the things everybody’s always looking for, like that magic bullet for when you’re testing something that’s going to like, wow, as long as it doesn’t perform worse than what it did, then yeah, it’s a success.
Right? Like, unless you completely do something and it completely tanks, you’re okay. You’re moving in the right direction. 50% unsubscribes. Exactly. Then we have an issue. So yeah, if we have a huge spike in unsubscribes, we’ll have an issue. If our sentiment polls have a whole bunch of people that don’t like it, okay, we’ll have an issue and we’ll deal with it. I don’t think that’s going to happen. And I think the fact that we…
kept our subscribers kind of in the forefront when we created it. So it’s, I think that’s gonna, I mean, it’s not, I promise it’s not, we’re not gonna magically start talking about something that isn’t email. So I think it’ll be okay. But one of the other things when we run tests, because it’s email and you wanna get to us like as close to statistical significance as you can, right?
And you can’t necessarily do that with just one test, necessarily. So I think when we’ve run tests in the past on the newsletter, we’ve seen a lot of like, Ooh, this is new and exciting. And so it gets a lot of response right up front. And so the best actual metrics and the best
information that we can get is actually like three months down the line because by that point in time people are like Okay, this is normal I’m used to this now and that’s when you can look at it and say is this performing better than it did before because that That first new shiny thing it’s new and it’s shiny and it’s probably I mean not a hundred percent But it’s probably gonna perform better than the old thing. So yeah, that’s where
A-B tests are a lot nicer because you can do a direct comparison. But email marketing to email marketers is not something we can do easily. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. All right. We’re going to wrap up with some quick recommendations. Thanks so much for going, for going this long. I’ve had, I’ve had a lot of fun. So, yeah. And it’s good. You have a lot of fun making videos as well.
which is rewarding for all the subscribers who get to read it. I hope so. I hope you guys like it. I’m assuming that some of you are subscribers. Um, if you’re not, then you should go to Litmus and so just subscribe and see all of the cool things that we do. You should sign up for Litmus weekly too. That one’s fun. We had a Star Wars issue on May 4th. That was a lot of fun to code. Okay. So quick recommendations. What’s one underrated email tool you wish more people knew and talked about?
And why? Um, I, okay. I am partial to Litmus Scope. It’s a tool you can use to grab emails. So it’s like instead of grabbing a screenshot, you can grab the email, save an email from your inbox in Gmail, and it saves it into a dashboard so you can come back and see it whenever you want to, but it also gives you a link so you can share that link to people if you want to.
I actually, because I have two Litmus accounts, I have a free Litmus account for myself personally and then I have a business account. So I have my free litmus account and I have scopes on there from like five years ago. I can go back and check. It’s really nice. And if you have a, I think…
If you have a paylimits account, there’s a button so you can open it in Builder and you can actually go through it and look at it in Builder and then save it there as well. But I love Scope and yeah, it’s a fun little tool. What’s your favorite, less subscribed, less read newsletter? Oh, alright. I have two. And one is not email related. It’s Evil Witches Newsletter. And it’s like a mom parenting newsletter. And…
It’s Evil Witches, Evil Witches newsletter. It’s on… I love the name already. I know, I don’t know what it’s on. But she’s a mom, she’s got some kids. She actually lives in the same city as I do, which is kind of fun. But she’s really fun. And it’s fun too because she’s got like a whole community. I think she’s on Substack, I’m not 100% sure on that. But she’s got a whole community and so you can, if you’re a free subscriber, you get the free newsletters. And if you’re a paid subscriber…
Then you get the page newsletters and you can like go in and comment on stuff and talk to other moms and other parents. So it’s really fun. My favorite marketing one is probably Anne Handley’s, uh, Tonal Anarchy. I love that. It’s like opening it up and talking to a friend in my inbox. It’s, I love it. It’s wonderful. Nice. Yep. And finally, what’s your favorite piece of advice for a newsletter publishers?
Um, oh, ask, ask for a reply in your newsletter. My newsletter, my personal newsletter, I always put a bit that people can reply. And like, I’ve gotten some of the best feedback from those replies and they make me feel so good. I’m like, Oh, because otherwise you feel like you’re just putting your newsletter out into the void and you don’t get anything back. It’s just like numbers that you get back. But having that reply and ask giving people that opportunity, it
There are people that will take you up on it and it makes it awfully special when they do. So yeah. If people are interested in learning more about you, subscribing to your newsletter, how can they do that? Where can they find you? I am on Twitter for now. We’ll see how long that lasts. I’m at Carin Slater and on Twitter in my bio, there’s a Linktree that has signed up for my newsletter, a link to my Etsy store where I sell email stickers and hats. I didn’t, I should have worn my hat.
But yeah, I’ve got my Etsy store that might have my LinkedIn and my webpage too, but there’s not as, I mean, my webpage just shows you all of the cool emails I’ve made in the past. So if you really want to see those, go check them out. But yeah, you can find it all from Carin Slater at Carin Slater on Twitter. Cool. Awesome. I’ll add all of that stuff into the show notes. Awesome. All right. That’s it. That’s the end of the show. Thank you so much for being a part of it. And I definitely learned a lot.
You know, I didn’t know that thing until it expired. Yeah, it’s been awesome having you on. Thank you so much for having me. This has been so much fun.