Hello, my name is Ren Provey.
I am a full stack web software developer with a deep interest
in iOS, user experience and
analytics.

CityBits Launch Postmortem

The CityBits launch went off with more success than I could have hoped (more on that in the CityBits Newsletter, if you're interested).

Known Risks

  1. With Google Reader being decommissioned at any moment and having a very tech savvy audience, I was concerned that in the transition a number of chances for folks to share or read about CityBits would be lost.
  2. My own availability would be low, so it was important to me that as much as possible be automated.

Tools & Process

I sent and measured two emails, the first at 7:30 am and the second at 4:30pm.

Each email identical was identical, except for the line before the signature ("may your morning latte be delicious" vs. "may your evening cocktail be delicious"). I choose MailChimp as my email service, based on a good API, strong analytics, and the ability to schedule emails.

I knew with a targeted list, the numbers would be higher (industry average is in the realm of 20% for opens and 2.5% for clicks) I hoped to double if not triple those numbers.

Morning email, 7:30am

Had an open rate of 64.6% and click rate of 30.5% (for those of you playing along at home MailChimp calculates the click percentage against total emails sent).

Evening email, 4:30pm

Had an open rate of 73.7% and click rate of 63.2%.

You can find a copy of the email we sent here.

One event that surprised me, was sharing (email forwards, Twitter, Facebook) was much higher for the morning email, despite the evening email having much stronger opens and clicks. Possible explanations:

  • Total fluke - I was tempted to rule it out this way, but after looking at the lists, the first had many more people I did not expect to engage. In short the second list had a greater number of heavy social media users.
  • My going theory - People start the day in creation mode, developers create code, writers create copy, designers create art. At the end of the day, people are winding down, tasks including email is being dealt with as efficiently as possible. Does that subtle shift in modes carry over to how someone processes email?

Sharing principally took place on Facebook and by email forwards. Which I am happy with, all my experience trends toward a Facebook share being more personal, while Twitter sharing acting as more of a broadcast.

Automation

At 7:30 when the first email went out, our two month old Eli and I were asleep in the bed, after having spent the early hours walking around the apartment. When the 8am tweets hit, we were just waking up. During the 4:30 email we were trying to do some good burping.

My advice is automate whatever you can - MailChimp and TweetDeck are great for scheduling emails and tweets. Most launches won't include a baby, but they will have a million other things going on.

Status

I used Panic's Status Board, to track happenings on Twitter. I thought a status board would be a bit frivolous, but it allowed me to be intentional about checking news feeds and I could do it just walking by my iPad. Next time, I'll add in open info from MailChimp's API.

Take Aways

  1. My biggest regret was not having a larger email list. Tools like MailChimp make adding a static signup form to a website super simple. If you don't have a way for people to get notified when you launch, do it now.
  2. Automate, automate, automate. If you can put it on a timer, do it. By not having to worry about the mechanics, it lets you do be engaged to what is happening organically.
  3. Spend some time on your emails. Simple, direct asks and good copy seemed to work really well for CityBits.

Notes

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Git Series

Around the Web

Twitter: @renprovey
LinkedIn: Ren Provey
GitHub: ren
Work: CityBits, the guide to all the bits of your trip that you'll rave about to your friends.

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