How Morning Brew Built a Referral Program That Generated 365000 New Subscribers in a Year

Dec 10, 2019 2:48:28 AM
Author: Kieran Flanagan

How many times has someone told you about the death of email? We've seen massive growth in social media platforms and real-time chat applications, but email is still the best medium we have to connect directly with our customers.

In this episode of the GrowthTLDR, we talk to Tyler Denk, senior product lead at Morning Brew, a company that has over 1.6 million subscribers for their daily newsletter.

We talk:

- How Morning Brew built a fast-growing business with a product reliant on email, their daily newsletter.

- Why Morning Brew's referral program worked so well and how it's now generating over 1000 net new daily subscribers.

- Where Tyler would recommend, marketers, spend their time when trying to optimize their email marketing efforts.

Happy Growing!

Time Stamped Notes

[3:45] - Tyler gives us a summary of what Morning Brew is, why their approach to writing about the news differs from traditional media, and how they make money.

[6:15] - Morning Brew allows its editors to curate and decides what stories make their daily newsletter vs. relying on technology to help personalize based on a person's interest. Their content team is separated by those who write stories, and others who write the copy for ads.

[7:30] - There are 1.6 million subscribers to Morning Brew's daily newsletter. They've recently launched new newsletters and a podcast called 'Business Casual.'

[8:55] - Morning Brew doesn't want people to leave the daily newsletter; their objective isn't in getting you to click through to one of the stories they cover. Instead, they want you to get everything you need within the newsletter. However, they still do look at a heatmap to determine where people are clicking as it's a signal of what their audience is interested in.

[11:40] - One of the challenges the team at Morning Brew has is measuring the effectiveness of their email. They mostly look at the long-term trend of engagement metrics like open rate and retention rate. They do also look at the time spent reading the newsletter, which some email tools can provide you with.

[13:30] - Morning Brew's north star metric is 'unique daily opens.' They work hard to preserve the quality of their list. If, after signing up for their newsletter, you don't open an email in the first two weeks, they'll remove you from the list. And, if you haven't opened an email in two months, they'll remove you from their list.

[16:25] - If people are sharing your product organically before making incentives available, it's a great foundation on which to build a referral program. Through customer research, the team at Morning Brew discovered this was happening for their newsletters.

[18:25] - Morning Brew built a minimal viable version of their referral program allowing all subscribers to get a custom link they could use to share with others and earn points for swag. Their first offerings was a subscription to a premium newsletter and stickers.

[21:08] - Morning Brew has a share section in their newsletter, showing subscribers what they can earn from sharing it with their network. They rotate the offers so they'll appeal to a broader group of people. They also ask their audience what swag would motivate them to share with subscribers.

[23:50] - One of the reasons for the success of Morning Brew's rewards program is because they drive attention to it daily via a promo spot in their newsletter.

[26:55] - The people referred to Morning Brew retain at very high rates. One of the reasons their retention rate is higher is because Morning Brew adds some friction on their signup process. People who referred to the newsletter have to double opt-in.

[28:10] - Tylers' biggest goal with the referral program is to get people from 0 referrals to at least 1. Once someone has referred at least one person to the newsletter, Tyler can start treating that segment of users differently, because they know about the rewards program, and they understand how to refer people to the newsletter.

[31:10] - Testing is a big part of Morning Brew's success. To improve open rates, they test subject lines, send times, and preview text continually. They use Sailthru to test 4 subject lines for an hour, and the platform then picks the email with the best open rate. They also test promoting Morning Brew in other popular newsletters. And, they've found gifs perform a lot better than images.

[37:55] - Tyler recommends busy marketers test subject lines, images, and sends times.

You can find Tyler's Medium post on building the referral program here.

– Tyler on  LinkedIn / Twitter / Medium
– Kieran on Twitter / LinkedIn / Medium
– Scott on Twitter / Linked / Medium

Topics: Growth, Podcast, Leader

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