"The value is in the list", finally a 2-way street
Solving for subscriber value
The value is in the list.
A marketing adage as old as time. Well, as old as email marketing at least.
It's very easy for marketers and business owners to take this sentence at face value and roll with it. Build a list. Capture emails. The value's in there!
And they're not wrong. Litmus research showed that, on average, $1 spent on email marketing returns a staggering $42 (source). That's insane ROI.
But I'm not here to debate email marketing ROI. Instead, the challenge that popped in my head this week had to do with this '2-way street' aspect of email lists.
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For the longest time, "the value is in the list" meant carte blanche to do whatever it takes to grow the list. Then, the company would get 'value'.
You'll notice something clearly missing in this narrative so far, right? Where's the customer? What value are they getting?
Up until now, I would argue, the subscriber was very much an afterthought. And that is a challenge to solve.
This all came to me this week as I was talking through my decision to start a Substack with various people. Why a Substack? Why not just blog? (I talked about this in my intro post).
I think one of the reasons that truly pushed me to start a Substack is the value I've gotten as a subscriber of so many other Substacks.
Here are my decisions:
0. Solve for subscriber value
Hey, I didn't solve this myself, but Substack seem to have and I'm gonna give them props for it.
Substack have managed to finally create this '2-way street of email lists'. As a subscriber of your favourite publishers, you can get value early. You can also get more value, with paid subscriptions.
I cannot believe the amount of value we can all get for free from Substack. Without exaggeration, this feels to me like a YouTube moment for email.
1. Start a Substack
No brainer. Though I'm writing for myself, some people may find value in my posts and rants. If nothing else, it's a great community to get engaged with.
2. Follow more publications
I'm in this value-craving phase at the moment, ready to devour excellent writing on various topics. If you'd like to recommend any Substacks, please do so in the comment. Don't be afraid to promote yourself, this ain't Reddit.
3. Publish on-brand content
I almost wrote 'publish high-quality content', but that would go against what I'm trying to achieve here.
Instead, I'll focus on publishing on-brand content -- content that follows the simple and liberating rules I've given myself for this publication.
I'm not going to start any Substack experiments just yet, though I will focus on email.
I've always wanted to test title case vs. sentence case email subject lines. So that's what I'm going to try.
I will A/B test 10 emails. I will make sure they are all sent to the same segment of my company's email list.