Behind the Scenes at Copyblogger: Our New Email Approach

Here’s a great problem to have: Producing so much high-quality content that your audience gets overwhelmed. But the thing is … it’s still a problem.

Today, Sonia Simone and Pamela Wilson take you behind the scenes to look at the development of our new weekly email roundup — Copyblogger Weekly. We’re putting this new approach into place to help our beloved audience get more out of the (we admit it) firehose of content we publish.

In this 22-minute episode, Sonia and Pamela talk about:

  • The audience problem that sparked this new approach
  • Some content trends you can keep an eye on for your own projects
  • What we hope you’ll get out of this cleaner, simpler way of getting your Copyblogger content

And once you’ve had a chance to take a look, we definitely want to know how it’s working for you! Drop us a note, either here in the comments or on one of the Copyblogger Weekly posts.

The Show Notes

Behind the Scenes at Copyblogger: Our New Email Approach

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM.

Sonia Simone: This episode of Copyblogger FM is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. I’ll tell you a little bit more about this complete solution for digital marketing and sales later, but you can check it out and take a free spin for yourself at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

Hey there, it is so good to see you again. Welcome back to Copyblogger FM, the content marketing podcast. Copyblogger FM is about emerging content marketing trends, interesting disasters, and enduring best practices, along with the occasional rant.

My name is Sonia Simone. I’m the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital. I also like to hang out with the folks who do the heavy lifting over on the Copyblogger blog. Remember that you can always get show notes for every episode. Those typically will include links. They often include free extra resources at Copyblogger.FM, and that’s also where you can get the complete show archive.

I am here today with Pamela Wilson. She is our EVP of educational content. She is my co-lead in the Authority community and our Certified Content Marketer group. And she’s also instrumental in helping us get big, content-focused projects out the door. So Pamela, good talking with you today.

Pamela Wilson: It is so good to be here.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, it’s fun. We’ve got a couple of things to talk about this month, which is fun. For those who don’t know my company, pretty much everybody in our company has an interesting workweek. Everybody’s got interesting projects on the boil all the time.

But you have been tasked with addressing an audience problem that has been an issue for a while now, and something that we have been thinking about, what’s the best way to help people out with this. Do you want to just start by talking about what is that problem that we’re trying to solve with the topic of the call today?

The Audience Problem That Sparked This New Approach

Pamela Wilson: The mystery problem, right? The thing that we have been trying to work out is how to best serve our audience with our email marketing. What we have been doing over the years is what most people do who have content-based websites, which is they send out their content as it’s published.

In the case of Copyblogger, that ends up being quite a bit of content, because we produce a lot of content. And that’s what I want to talk about as we go forward. But what I have found is email marketing continues to be very effective. It’s very personal, it’s very direct.

But what has happened over the years is that there’s just a lot more of it now in our inboxes. So we’ve become aware that we’re kind of sharing that inbox base with a lot of other content, and we wanted to see what we could do to better serve our audience with an email that would be more useful.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, exactly. And not everyone — this is a problem that in some ways is an unusual one because of the volume of content that we produce. Although, certainly, there are organizations that just do produce lots and lots of content. We do publish a lot — we publish a lot of text content, we publish a lot of audio content. And, of course, then we have business things that are going on, opportunities to pick up offers and things like that. So, yeah, that ‘audience overwhelmed’ thing.

Well, let’s talk people through what we’ve planned to help make this a little bit more manageable, and what they can expect from their email coming from our company.

Pamela Wilson: What we were trying to come up with was something that would serve the audience and just be kind of a central location, where they could find all of our content. What we’ve developed is this one high-value email, kind of like a digest email, that we’ll send out every week on Thursdays, is the day we have planned right now.

So it will go out on Thursday, and it’s going to gather together all of our written and audio content in one place. One thing I want to talk about is that, especially when we started doing our podcast, there was suddenly this dramatic increase in the quantity of content that we were producing. And I talked to a lot of people who were like, “I just can’t keep up, there’s so much. There’s so much coming out.”

I think there was a change that happened that we never verbalized. But the change in our attitude toward our content was sort of like, “We’re going to put out a lot of different content.” It’s not all for everyone. So I think what we’re hoping is that people see our content, both our audio and our written content, more like a menu of things that they can choose from. It’s guidance that they can choose from. It’s not all going to be for everyone, every single week.

So the idea is, depending on the project you’re working on, depending on where you are in your business, or what your current challenges are, you’re going to listen to specific podcasts, you’re going to read certain articles to help you, right where you are at that moment.

The idea behind this email is to gather all of those resources in one place and deliver them in a format that’s very easy.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, and I know you and I have talked about — Copyblogger has become kind of like a magazine. And normally we don’t get a magazine, and then open it up, and then read all the way through, you know? We just kind of pick out — my attention is grabbed by this article, that’s really relevant to me. And then I’m going to skip over and read another one. And then maybe later this week, I’m going to read that one that was intriguing but I didn’t have time for.

So, it’s not like you just sit down the way maybe we do with a book, and just start at the beginning and go through to the end. It’s much more — you bounce around, you follow your interests. And I think Copyblogger has been more of a magazine for a while. But I think you’re right: I don’t know if we expressly articulated that.

Pamela Wilson: Right, and we have a big audience who has been following our work for many years, and for many years they could literally read everything that we produced. It was no problem. We were publishing, at one point, I think we were publishing three posts a week. So it was like, “Well, I’m going to read whatever Copyblogger puts out.” But then suddenly it kind of ramped up.

So our approach was to basically offer the broad expertise that we have within our company, so that everyone in our company who has something to offer has a way to offer that expertise to our audience. But it’s not all going to be pertinent at the same time to all the same people. So those people who were trying to consume everything we put out there, suddenly it was like, “Oh, I’ve got a lot more to consume now.”

I did want to talk about that on the podcast, that the intention is always, we are offering you lots of guidance and lots of information. But the idea is that you pick out what works for you now. And we are here for you every step of the way. So if you’re just starting out, we’ll have information for you. If you are laying the foundation for your online business or you’re content marketing, we definitely have information for you. And if you have more advanced challenges, we have information for you. We can help you every step of the way.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things I’ve said before about Copyblogger is it’s long been this way. It’s a little bit of a watering hole. All kinds of critters come to Copyblogger. There are some sites that are super niched down, and they have a very tightly defined audience.

We’ve always had a varied audience. People at different levels, people who do different things for a living, people who have different kinds of focus. And I think that’s more true than ever. Especially when we went to so much audio content. We have the audio people, we have the text people. And when you have a diverse audience like that, you have to help everybody find what works for them, and what’s going to be relevant to them, and help them have a more awesome day and more awesome results.

Pamela Wilson: Right. This new email, we decided to give it a title, and we have some big plans for it. So the title is Copyblogger Weekly, and the tagline is “your portable guide to building online authority with content marketing.” We’re kind of gathering all the information under those titles. And we’re starting out — I’m very excited about this part — we’re starting out at the top of the email. It’s not just a digest, like, “OK, here’s all our content. Here’s your menu. Pick out what you’re going to consume.”

We’re starting out with an encouraging message from you, and we’re literally calling it From the Desk of Sonia Simone. So it’s really just a personal message from you to our readers. I think people are going to love that personal touch.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, well, I definitely hope so. I mean, I think in a way it’s kind of self-curating our content. Just a funny thing. Normally, a curated piece, you go out and find a mass of material around the web and corral it and focus it. We’re actually doing that with our own material, because we have so much.

I’m going to pause for just a moment. We’re going to take a quick break, just for a moment or so. And when we come back, we’ll just get a little more into the specifics about the new piece, about what you can expect, and about some of the lessons that we have learned along the way.

This episode of Copyblogger FM is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. So, I have to tell you, I have owned a digital business in one form or another for a long time. And when I started out, I have to say, building a reasonably complex, functioning website was just hard. It was expensive. It took a lot longer than you wanted it to. And it didn’t necessarily work exactly the way that you hoped it would work when you rolled it out.

Now, those kinds of frustrations were exactly what led us to develop the Rainmaker Platform. We wanted to make it simple enough that you could make a fast start, but also robust enough that you could add that more complex functionality that can change things for a digital business.

I’m talking about elements like a membership community, multiple products, free and paid products, and email automation. We also threw in all of the things that tend to be a hassle to manage. So Rainmaker Platform includes premium hosting. It includes all of your WordPress upgrades. And it includes some very serious security, as well as your business email. All of that is wrapped up in your choice of dozens of great-looking, mobile-responsive design frameworks, which you can literally change any time you like just by clicking a button.

I have to say, right now Rainmaker Platform, which includes the premium hosting, includes all the features — the cool membership capability, the email automation, landing pages, podcasting tools, all the bells and whistles. Right now, Rainmaker Platform is a lower monthly fee than I was paying just for email on my old personal site.

And I don’t need any kind of expensive consulting to get it set up. I can just get started, and that’s not an uncommon scenario. It all works together, which means it works. And as your sophistication as a business owner grows, the features are there to grow right with you.

You can get started at Rainmaker.FM/Platform. And right now you can get 14 days free to try it out and get a taste of how quickly you can get up and running with a truly powerful website for your business. You can get that rolling at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

Thanks for coming back. Good to see you again. I am here with Pamela Wilson, and we are talking about the new Copyblogger Weekly, which is our new email strategy for the Copyblogger blog. What can you tell us about what to expect, about what to look for, about what you’ve learned in the process?

Pamela Wilson: Well, as I said before, it’s called Copyblogger Weekly. It’s going to open with a note from you, kind of a personal message, which I’m excited about, because I think it takes it beyond just being a listing of our content. It’s a chance for them to hear from you, and hear about what you’re thinking about. And get maybe — like, no pressure Sonia — but just to get an encouraging message, something to kind of set the tone for the week. I’m excited about that. I think that’s going to differentiate it from the typical kind of curated content email that is sent out, because it will have that personal message.

Then, after that, it’s going to be our written content and our audio content. And people will be able to, with one click, basically go to the piece of content that they want to consume. The one thing, I don’t think we’ve made this clear so far in this podcast, but the big change is that we are going from sending out pretty much a daily email or an email every time we publish, which right now is Monday through Thursday, but it has been as often as Monday through Friday.

We were emailing people our new content every day. We’re going from that to one email a week. So, it’s a pretty big change. And what we’re hoping is that people will see these emails as so valuable, and they’ll follow up on the content, and then go in and consume what is most useful for them.

I think one of the advantages of sending it out on Thursday is people get it just ahead of the weekend, which is when they may have time to actually follow some of those links or listen to some of those podcasts. So it’s a chance for them to kind of line up the content that they’re going to be consuming over the next couple of days. That was a very intentional decision as well.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. I mean, I’m a big fan of you don’t prepare for Monday on Monday, if you want to have a great Monday.

Pamela Wilson: Right.

Sonia Simone: It’s great to prepare for Monday on Sunday, or Thursday or Friday. So we’ll try and help you get your ducks in a row to do what you want to do with your business or your career, or what have you, and your content. And get everything aligned so that you know what’s coming up and what you can start working on. I think it’s going to be a good format. I think it will take some getting used to.

Some of us have been hitting, just doing that, which of course we can still do. You are still welcome to do that. But some of us have become so used to the daily rhythm of it, and our email subscribers are going to have a little bit different rhythm. It’s going to be interesting to see how it works for people. But I think once people are used to it, I think they’re really going to get a good benefit from it.

Some Content Trends You Can Keep an Eye on for Your Own Projects

Pamela Wilson: I think so. And like you said, it’s a matter of developing new routines and new habits. But I think one of the most important takeaways from this whole thing — this is kind of the meta lesson that we could communicate to our listeners — is that it’s important to pay attention to how things are changing in the industry you’re operating within.

So, for example, I don’t know if you remember, online video, when it first became a thing that you could do, videos were, a lot of them were 15 or 20 minutes long. Some of them were 30 minutes long. Nowadays, people want you to keep them well below five minutes, and they usually say, “Don’t make them longer than three minutes.” Some of the most effective ones I’ve seen have been two minutes or a minute and a half.

Video content has gotten shorter and shorter, and I think people have responded to that by changing the way that they’re delivering their information when it’s delivered on video. The other thing that has changed is podcast audio quality. Do you remember the days when people used to make podcasts by calling in on a phone and recording the phone call?

Sonia Simone: Oh yeah.

Pamela Wilson: I mean, we would never get away with that nowadays, because I think people expect a higher level of quality. And when you think about written posts, written content marketing nowadays is formatted quite differently than how it was when we first started reading content online.

People have realized that when people read on screens, they just read differently. They tend to format it differently, they break up their paragraphs, make them shorter, add lots of bulleted lists, add in subheads. They use more images. All of that, written online content has also evolved. And this is our way of evolving email.

This is how we are evolving the way we stay in contact with our audience. So again, I think the lesson is to watch what’s going on. And don’t be afraid to pivot a little bit, or iterate what you’re doing to respond to how people are consuming the information in the type of media that you’re using.

Sonia Simone: Well, yeah. And Copyblogger has always been a big company for experimentation. Really, right from the beginning, we’ve always done lots of experiments and see how they work. Nothing’s written in stone.

I do think that this strategy reflects a pretty important, larger trend that we’ve got to get real about, which is information overwhelm. There was the article about content shock, and what are we going to do when there’s just more content created than a human race can consume. Which seems like such a crazy problem, but it kind of is a thing. You have to realize the volume of noise and clutter, and then think about, “Well, how am I going to stand above the noise and clutter? How am I going to differentiate?”

The number-one thing that we always recommend is actually put the time in on your material. We’re seeing a lot of sites move away from publishing quite so often to publishing less often, but going big when they go out. A lot of the people reading, this, listening to this — I’m such a writer. A lot of people listening to this, we get asked all the time, “Well, how often should I blog? How often should I podcast?” I’d rather see you have a regular, predictable thing you can stick to but maybe communicate less often, but then really communicate with high, high quality.

Pamela Wilson: Right.

Sonia Simone: I think this is very aligned with that kind of trend.

What We Hope You’ll Get Out of This Cleaner, Simpler Way of Getting Your Copyblogger Content

Pamela Wilson: Absolutely. I know we wanted to talk to people about what they need to do so they can get the digest email. Because people after they’ve heard this might be kind of excited to get the digest email, hopefully. They don’t have to do anything.

If you are on our email list, you will just begin getting a digest email. You will stop getting the daily emails, and you’ll see this new format in your inbox on Thursdays. Thursday morning it will come out, so I would love to hear what people think about it, and maybe people could leave comments on this episode.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, do let us know. Again, if you’re picking this up on iTunes or somewhere else, you can swing by Copyblogger.FM, and that auto-magically whisks you to the feed for this podcast, Copyblogger FM podcast. And let us know.

I know some of you are going to be like, “Thank you.” Because we have been sending you quite a bit of email. But let us know what you think of it. Let us know what you think about — especially when you’ve had a chance to look at an episode or two. I am going to try and help give some context and give some connection to the whole thing. Give you my take on how what we’ve published for the week is reflecting, maybe either the zeitgeist or what’s going on in the company, or what’s going on in the larger culture. Just try and bring some context to it and add a little bit of personal connection.

And you guys know, I always love to hear from you. So let me know in the comments how this strikes you. Some of you may have some trepidations, and that’s to be expected. But it would be awesome if you could try it out, and then let us know how it strikes you.

Pamela Wilson: Right. Give it a couple of weeks, maybe. But I am trying to decide, are we going to hear from more people who say, “Thank you for condensing your content into one weekly email,” or are we going to hear from more people who say, “I miss hearing from Copyblogger every day”? We’ll see. We’ll have to place some bets and see what happens.

Sonia Simone: Yeah. Well, and because of the nature of the human brain. I mean, we’ll hear more from people who liked it better the old way, because we communicate more about things that are not working for us.

Pamela Wilson: Right.

Sonia Simone: We do want to know, and we want to know kind of what’s working, or if there’s a way we could frame it better. We’re very interested in — how is this striking you guys? Is it doing what we want it to do? Which is to help manage your crazy inbox, and get the relevant good things to you, in a way that’s a lot easier for you to consume.

We’re very curious to know how it strikes you. And do swing by and let us know what you think. Maybe if there’s something that you’d like to see expanded, or just curious to see how it strikes you.

Pamela Wilson: Absolutely. This is our iteration number one of this email, so we would love to hear any ideas that people have or suggestions.

Sonia Simone: Good stuff. All right. Well, we’re at the 20-minute mark. So I think I’m going to wrap us up here, and let people know if you’re not subscribed to Copyblogger yet, there are all kinds of cool benefits and advantages to making that happen.

Just go to Very easy to get signed up. You will get our reader-friendly weekly digest of content. So you can pick and choose exactly what’s relevant to you, and prepare for a week of awesomeness ahead of you. And Pamela, thank you so much. It’s always good talking with you.

Pamela Wilson: It was great to be here. Thanks, Sonia.

Sonia Simone: All right. Take care.