In praise of the email newsletter format

[Subscribe to the gapingvoid newsletter here.]

This made me very happy- Austin Ray from Mailchimp interviewed me about my “fantastic open rates”.

Mailchimp, as you know, is what powers my daily cartoon newsletter. With email newsletters, at least with Mailchimp, the average “open rate” is around 6%-8% i.e. for every hundred people you send out to, six to eight people actually open it and read it, as opposed to just sending it to the trash.

Our newsletter is 40%+. That’s amazing.

We were impressed to find out that Hugh MacLeod‘s MailChimp campaigns consistently maintain a fantastic 40%+ open rate. What does a cartoonist know about email marketing? Well, as it turns out, he doesn’t worry about all the typical “email expert” stuff like A/B testing, sending at different times of day, experimenting with subject lines, etc. Instead, much like Email Inspiration, he just sends a fun image, and the people love it.

“I think it’s because we keep it simple—a nice cartoon to brighten your day, delivered to your inbox every morning,” Hugh tells us. “People like getting that a whole lot more than, say, a daily, long-winded spiel about why y’all should give me your money, make me rich, yak, yak, yak…”

I highly, highly recommend doing the newsletter thing. More than the blog, more than Twitter, Facebook or Google+, these are the people who who REALLY WANT to support your business, who REALY CARE about your brand, who really want to interact with it. What Seth Godin calls a “Permission Asset”.

And best of all, with a good list, these people- the people who REALLY allow you to do what you do- are easy to identify, This makes your marketing A LOT easier, because the people who REALLY matter to your brand are RIGHT THERE in black & white, on your list. Nobody subscribes to a newsletter unless they really want to, unless they really think what you’re doing is important. Life is too short.


P.S. Yes, I highly, highly recommend Mailchimp as the service provider. They kick ass, they’ve been very good to gapingvoid. Thanks, Mailchimp!

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

The New Republic
Lydia Depillis

Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

Len Schlesinger
Former President, Babson College

"There are only two daily newsletters that I look forward to opening and reading every time they show up to my inbox: Seth Godin's and gapingvoid."

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos

In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

Brian Clark
  • Seth Godin
  • The New Republic
  • Len Schlesinger
  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark