It's the one-year anniversary of our Up and to the Right newsletter! Hayes and I started the newsletter as a place for us to explore ideas, refine our messaging, see what generates interest. We didn't have a product or a team - just an idea and the time to work on it.
A lot has changed over the past year. We're about to be a team of 7 full-time employees. We have a real product. We have paying customers. And there are more exciting updates on the horizon.
As our company has evolved, so has the newsletter. Our first issue went to 115 people, probably half of them related to us. Since then, we've sent 6,410 emails to an ever-growing list, with an overall open rate of 42.94%.
Our click rate is 10.42%, and clickthrough rate is 23.9%. These engagement rates are pretty incredible - considerably higher than industry averages, even as we've settled into more normal rates.
HubSpot has this little scatterplot visualization, below, to show you how often you're "nailing it" (their language, not mine). You can see we nailed it quite a bit. But interestingly, 3/5 emails in the red zone (low opens and low clicks, so whatever the opposite of nailing it is) have been in the past couple months.
So why are we not-nailing it more frequently recently? Time and focus. Let me explain.
The newsletter has given us a space to explore
We haven't used the newsletter for demand generation. We have occasionally thrown in a CTA at the bottom if anyone wants to request a demo, but haven't pushed it. We haven't used it for product updates, or even much company news. It's been almost entirely about developing ideas. The blog is where we explore what's going on in revenue organizations. What are the latest trends in RevOps? What's changing on sales teams? How do we envision the future?
And that's been so helpful as the company has grown. We've listened to your responses, heard your feedback, and evolved our positions. The exercise of simply writing the newsletter has been deeply informative to our thinking.
That was particularly important when we were nascent. We had to define what our company was going to be, where we fit in among our potential competitors.
A year ago, my top priority was understanding our new company's space. Who is our customer? What do they care about? Who are the influential thinkers in our industry? Some of this I knew, having worked in GTM orgs for a long time, but I didn't have much direct experience on the new business or operations side of the business.
And part of how I learned was through reading, reflecting, and analyzing. I was able to do some of that through our blog. And Hayes was already a thought leader in RevOps, so he had a chance to really dive into areas he'd been thinking a lot about.
That resulted in blog posts like:
- Beyond lead routing: Managing rep assignment through the customer lifecycle
- Customer experience and *all* the people your customers interact with
- How Covid is (finally) killing geographic sales territories and what to do about it
- Plug the lead leak: Your reps should own accounts, not leads
- You should focus more on customer handoffs and account ownership
- Unification vs. alignment in revenue organizations
This content has become foundational to how we think and what we're building with Gradient Works. And we're on stronger footing now because we had the time to really think through these ideas.
Publishing a newsletter takes time
When we started, we published the newsletter weekly. After a while we moved to biweekly, and have just decided to move to a monthly send from now on. Why?
Because it takes a lot of time. Just one of these blog posts represents 2-6 hours of work. A newsletter includes at least three blog posts. When you add that together, plus the time it takes to conceptualize the content, craft the email, and triple-check all your links, each email takes 10-20 hours to produce. When my job was pre-product marketing, that was fine. In fact, that was great - it was all part of the job at the time, and I still had plenty of time for all the other things a founder does in the early days.
But even a biweekly email takes 20-40 hours a month, and as our company moves into a new phase, I can't spend that kind of time on anything that isn't directly related to demand generation. Our marketing team is one person - me.
My focus in the early days was more brand than demand. Now, my focus has to be more demand than brand.
It's still important for us to write this newsletter. There's so much we have to say, and so many revenue topics we want to explore. We've experimented with other ways of producing content - sourcing content from other teammates, working with external writers, interviewing industry experts. And we'll keep doing those things, just on a new cadence, maybe even in different channels or with different goals.
Thank you for taking this journey with us
So as we enter our second year of Up and to the Right, we want to say thank you. Thank you for joining us, for reading this and other content we've produced, for supporting us as we grow. We wouldn't have made it this far without you, and we know you're instrumental in us sticking around for another year (and hopefully many more after that, but we'll take them one at a time). Truly, thank you.
If you are on a revenue team - in sales, marketing, customer success or anything adjacent - and haven't seen our Gradient Works Assignment product yet, we'd love to talk to you. No pressure, no strings. We'd just love your feedback as we bring our first product to market. If you'd like to see it, let us know here.
And if you aren't on our newsletter mailing list yet, you should sign up here. Once a month, thoughtful content, no spam.