Today, I sit down with the Head of Deliverability at ConvertKit, Alyssa Dulin, to shed some light on the often mysterious game of getting your email into the right inbox. Alyssa’s expertise about what creators need to focus on and the most recent developments in the email marketing space can truly take your company’s reach to the next level!
Deliverability has always been a huge part of what we offer at ConvertKit, and Alyssa unpacks the most important pieces of this puzzle, covering sender reputation, effective cadences, and setting and delivering on expectations. As with so much of our philosophy, it is all about playing the long game over short-term wins and shiny statistics.
You’ll get a look behind the scenes at how the world of email actually operates and evolves, the important conversations that happen between providers, as well as some helpful practical tips and common mistakes to avoid. Be sure to join Alyssa and me for this illuminating chat.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- The biggest factors that contribute to reaching your audience’s inbox.
- A simple and comprehensive definition of deliverability.
- How to think about the important aspect of reputation management.
- The real value of custom domains and dedicated IPs.
Links & Resources
“Alyssa: You want to receive positive signals from your subscribers and reduce the amount of negative signals that you’re receiving. Some positive signals are opening the message that you send, clicking, responding to your message, that’s actually a really big one. Getting your subscribers to reply to your emails is really, really great. Adding you to their safe senders list or address book. If your message did land in their spam folder, if they mark it as not spam, or move it out of spam, that’s a huge positive signal. Those are all the good things that you want to see from your subscribers.”
[0:00:39] Nathan: In this episode, I talk to Alyssa Dulin, who is the Head of Deliverability for ConvertKit. If you’ve heard around that ConvertKit has amazing deliverability, which is absolutely true. You hear a lot of creators talking on Twitter about how when they switched to ConvertKit, their open rates went up, their engagement went up. That’s because of the hard work that Alyssa does behind the scenes. In this episode, we talk about what professional creators need to know about deliverability, how the industry actually works, the semi-secret organizations that exist behind the scenes.
Then we even dive into a really fun new project, kind of behind the scenes of what actually announced today when we’re recording it, and will have been maybe out for a couple of weeks by the time this episode airs. Well, behind the scenes, the deliverability and compliance side of how this secret new project is working.
There’s a ton of stuff. Alyssa is seriously the best in the industry. She leads the industry, podcasts on this, and everything else. If you’ve ever wondered about deliverability, this is the episode for you.
Alyssa, welcome to the show.
[0:01:41] Alyssa: Hey, thanks for having me.
[0:01:42] Nathan: I was just on your podcast about deliverability, which is the key industry podcast about deliverability, I hear. Our creators reference it all the time. Then, what’s the most fun is when the rest of the people in the industry reference it. I love the fact that you’re out there sharing our values of teach everything you know, and work in public, when your podcast is listened to. But I think most of the competition because you only want to actually talking about these things. Everyone else is like, “No, deliverability is an opaque world, you have to be a member of our secret organization to know about it. You’re like, “Look, here’s how it actually works. Here’s what’s going on.”
Anyway, I’m thrilled that you’re talking about this. Maybe let’s start there. Why do you talk about it publicly so much compared to the rest of the industry that tends to keep things these things very quiet and secretive?
[0:02:31] Alyssa: Oh, such a good question. Well, I mean, if you’re listening to this podcast, there’s a good chance you send emails to a list of people. Or if you don’t, you’re probably thinking about doing it. We all know it takes a lot of time to figure out the platform you’re going to use, should it be ConvertKit. But you know, so it takes a lot of time.
[0:02:47] Nathan: Not that we’re biased at all.
[0:02:49] Alyssa: Yes. Exactly. Then you have to design your email to make it look the way you want to. To me, the hardest part, write the copy. It’s just the worst thing ever if you do all that work, and then your email doesn’t even land in the inbox of those subscribers. Because then, all the money you’re spending on your ESP, the time you spent to make that email happen, it’s just down the drain.
Then to me, one of the even worse parts is because, typically, deliverability is so hard to understand, and people haven’t made it very easy to understand. Whenever you do run into an issue like your email bounces, or it goes to the spam folder, good luck, in the past, finding information on why that happened, it usually –you can start with googling, but you’ll go down so many rabbit holes. Like, “Is it SPF? Is it DKIM?” All these crazy acronyms that aren’t even the issue and then you spend lots of time digging into technical things. My goal is to make deliverability way easier for anyone to understand, anyone who sends emails to their audience. Yes, I don’t think it should be like this big secret that only a handful of people in the world know about. I want everyone to know about it.
[0:04:04] Nathan: I love that. Definitely fits our core values as a company. Honestly, it’s just good marketing. Because a lot of people say like, “We have the best deliverability” or all of that. But really, when you demonstrate that expertise by saying, by talking about it, then people tend to trust and believe that a lot more and see the evidence of it. For someone who is in the world of sending email, maybe they’ve got 5,000, 10,000 subscribers, and they know at a high level, like they’ve heard deliverability, but how would you define it? What is deliverability in the way that a creator should care about?
[0:04:39] Alyssa: Yes, it’s basically whether or not you’re reaching the inbox of your subscribers. For the most part, it’s normal for like one out of 100 emails, maybe it goes to the spam folder. That’s just the way email works. It’s going to happen sometimes. Some people have B2B email addresses, or really strict filtering setup, where it’s almost impossible to get to their inbox, and that’s normal. But for the most part, for the vast majority of your audience, you want to be reaching the inbox. That’s really what deliverability is all about.
[0:05:07] Nathan: That’s what people care about. Now, reaching the inbox, does that mean – there’s a bunch of different inboxes? Does that mean that primary tab? Does that mean spam? How do you define the inbox?
[0:05:19] Alyssa: Right off the bat, you’re getting into the promotions and primary job. This is a big one. Yes. That is all the inbox. Basically, anything that’s not the spam folder is the inbox. As much as a lot of people hate it, the promotions tab is still the inbox. Gmail will tell you that, everyone will tell you that. It is kind of a different part of the inbox, but it is still your inbox, and we can get as much into that as you want to.
[0:05:42] Nathan: Yes, that sounds good. We’ll save that for the details. I think a lot of people listening are going to want to know just who you are, and how you came to the deliverability industry. I’d love to hear a little bit about that. What is the last handful of years of your career look like?
[0:05:58] Alyssa: It’s going to sound like I’m going to go way into the weeds, but I’m not. It’s just helpful context of how this happened, because no one goes to school for email deliverability. That’s not a thing.
[0:06:06] Nathan: There’s no college classes, do you have a degree in that and certifications. No.
[0:06:11] Alyssa: Yes. I wish I was using my degree more. But no, still banging it off.
[0:06:15] Nathan: What’s your degree in?
[0:06:16] Alyssa: My bachelor’s is in math and my master’s is in secondary math education, so like high school math.
[0:06:22] Nathan: Oh, nice. You’re so analytical, and I’ve seen this in so many projects that we do, and we can talk about – maybe later on, we’ll talk about the project that is secretly launching very quietly today. We’ll wolf it out for a few weeks by the time this launches. But I don’t think I knew that, that you had a degree in math, and like a lot more things make sense. You’re like level of analytical focus, and organization, and all of that.
[0:06:46] Alyssa: Why I love talking about churn and numbers.
[0:06:48] Nathan: Yes, exactly.
[0:06:49] Alyssa: It’s so fun. Yes. So really high level. College, I had like three different majors. I’ve always been the kind of person who’s just interested in so many things, that it’s hard to pick a thing. It was like, engineering, pre-med, whatever. Math is where I landed. I was like, “I just want to help people and I like numbers. So sure, I’ll be a math teacher.” Moved to Nashville and do my master’s. While getting my master’s, had lots of spare time, needed a part-time job. I started working for Eventbrite’s customer support. It was my first SaaS company I worked for and I loved it. Even though, obviously, customer support was so hard, and it was phone support most of the time, which was like, just really hard, but I really enjoyed it. I was really interested in everything, I wanted to dive deeper into company stuff.
Then I worked for Warby Parker’s corporate office in Nashville too, and it was very similar, where I was doing customer support stuff, but I was wanting to really dive in more. Then I started to get in the classroom. I was like, “Ugh. This just isn’t as fulfilling as I thought, or as fun as I thought for me.” I really missed like the SaaS kind of environment. Although I didn’t want to do obviously, customer support my whole life. That was very stressful. I knew I wanted to get back in that world. I had heard of a lot of the tech companies in Nashville, and just started searching every tech company’s job. Back in those days, it was like, I don’t know, seven years ago or something. Working remotely was like a dream and not very many companies did that. I was like, “Got to find a place in Nashville.” I found Emma, which stands for email marketing.
[0:08:25] Nathan: Oh, I don’t think I ever knew that, but it’s an acronym.
[0:08:28] Alyssa: I know. Isn’t that crazy? I know, people are always surprised. There was a listing for a deliverability specialist. I looked through the requirements, and I was like, “Oh, yes, customer support, technical abilities, blah, blah, blah. I don’t know what deliverability means, but we can figure this out.” So yes, I got lucky. I mean, I did a ton of research, obviously, before my interview, and I explained to them in my interview how email worked, even though I didn’t know that, like a week ago. Luckily, they hired me, and I had a really great boss who had been doing deliverability for 10 years.
I think that’s how everyone deliverability kind of gets in, is like, you get lucky with your entry job, and then your boss has been doing it for so long, and they teach you everything they know, which is amazing. I
[0:09:09] Nathan: It’s like an apprenticeship model, basically.
[0:09:12] Alyssa: Exactly. It worked so well, and then eventually, he moved on to do more GDPR legal stuff. So I took on his role, but yes. Then I was ready for a different kind of environment, found ConvertKit and the rest is history. Here we are.
[0:09:27] Nathan: In that process, Emma got bought by Campaign Monitor or the CM Group?
[0:09:32] Alyssa: Exactly. That’s really where I was like, “Okay, I got to get out of here.”
[0:09:36] Nathan: What’s interesting just as – I mean, for anyone who knows that the email industry, like there’s a lot of consolidation of private equity coming in and buying campaign monitor, and then picking up Emma, and deliver, and a whole bunch of other platforms. Which is why – is Emma still around as a standalone platform?
[0:09:52] Alyssa: Yes, still is.
[0:09:53] Nathan: Yes, it’s interesting. I know like this Campaign Monitor Group, they go by CM Group, they reach out to us about an acquisition. It’s just interesting seeing at the time how they tried to roll up as many companies as possible.
[0:10:08] Alyssa: Yes, I think they probably still are. They were really buying of everybody they could.
[0:10:12] Nathan: Yep, email is a good business. Everyone understands how important it is to do this. Well, I mean, you’ve been at ConvertKit, being in deliverability for years now. It really created a lot of the reputation that we have in the space, which is fantastic. In the early days, when we focus on a great deliverability, it was partially around expertise of like, I learned a lot over the previous – the first five years or so of running ConvertKit. Then, hired consultants for key problems that we got stuck on, like getting the first Spamhaus blacklist and things like that.
[0:10:45] Alyssa: Yes.
[0:10:47] Nathan: A lot of what we did in the early days was just focused on the reputation of senders, of making sure that we were very exclusive with who we worked with. There was a player at the time that was really popular called Infusionsoft in the online marketing space. You just kind of watch their reputation get dragged down as like the sleazy direct-response marketers. Learned the power of Infusionsoft automations. I was like, “This is amazing.” They all start to use it, and then, because Infusionsoft wasn’t picky about who they did business with, it just tanked the reputation of the entire platform.
Early on, a lot of what we did was just like be very strict about, “We’re going to let only creators who are writing great content.” I guess that was reputation management in the very early days.
[0:11:33] Alyssa: Very important.
[0:11:35] Nathan: Yes. Maybe, is there anything to add on the reputation management side? Then, you’ve obviously systematized it to a whole ridiculous level compared to what I did in the early days.
[0:11:45] Alyssa: Yes. Well, that’s just such a huge part of deliverability for an ESP, or for a large sender. It’s all about the reputation of our customers. That’s a big part of it, like you said. So the fact that you had that mindset already, when I got here, it made my job so much easier, because a lot of being a deliverability and compliance person is like begging execs and salespeople to, “Please let me cancel this account. Please don’t accept this customer.” That was a lot of my old job. It helps that we’re all on the same page.
A big part of my job is fighting spam, and then not just spam, but accounts that just aren’t a great fit because that is how deliverability at ConvertKit is so good, is because we make sure that we are only allowing creators with good content, like you said, to join our platform. If we have a creator who needs help, we have a team of people who are there to help improve their deliverability. So we’re not jerks about it, we’re going to help creators who have good intentions and need help. For the people who just aren’t a good fit, like sending cold emails, it’s just not what ConvertKit is made for. It’s hard and that’s why not all ESPs have such great deliverability is because we turned down a lot of money. It’s a lot.
I don’t think people are aware of how much money ConvertKit says no to because we want to keep our deliverability and reputation so healthy. So yes, that’s a very important part of the job.
[0:13:09] Nathan: Yes. I mean, it’s like – I don’t know that we could put an exact dollar amount on it, but it compounds to millions, of tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue that we’re turning down, because it’s just playing such a short-term game, right? You could have that revenue now, and it would be nice, and you could spend on building cool new features and that sort of thing. But it’ll cost you in the long run. Then all of these customers, like Tim Ferriss and Susan Cain, and James Clear, and everybody else who is invested in the platform is putting out great content. They’re going to get helped or hurt by the halo effect from the other creators on the platform. Maybe get into that a little more. What actually contributes to deliverability and reaching the inbox?
[0:13:54] Alyssa: Since ConvertKit is handling all of the things we just talked about in the background for you, we’re managing the IP reputation, or managing ConvertKit’s domain reputation, or monitoring for things like block lists, which I can get more into if needed. But basically, we’re handling the foundational aspects for creators so that they have a really healthy, strong foundation to send on.
For creators using ConvertKit, what they need to know about deliverability is that mainly, their sender reputation is the number one thing that impacts deliverability. If you didn’t know the domain that you use to send emails has a reputation with all of the different mailbox providers like Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, all of them. They have feelings about you, they have thoughts about your domain. Whether you knew it or not, it’s kind of like a credit score, except for most of the providers, you don’t have a way to know what your score is. It varies at all the different providers based on what they’re seeing from your mail.
That reputation that you hold with them is the most important thing. The way that they determine your reputation is through a lot of different factors. They have algorithms that are controlling it and it changes. We can’t tell you exactly what’s happening, but we send two billion messages a month, so we see enough data that we can tell you a big part of what’s happening. That is, you want to receive positive signals from your subscribers and reduce the amount of negative signals that you’re receiving. Some positive signals are opening the message that you send, clicking, responding to your message, that’s actually a really big one. Getting your subscribers to reply to your emails is really, really great. Adding you to their safe senders list or address book. If your message did land in their spam folder, if they mark it as not spam, or move it out of spam, that’s a huge positive signal. Those are all the good things that you want to see from your subscribers.
Then the negative things that you really want to minimize are spam complaints, which is when someone marks your message as spam. That’s a big negative signal. Obviously, it’s going to happen from time to time, because things happen. But if it’s happening a lot, we say, one out of every 1000 subscribers complaining is like, “That’s when you start to worry.” Then, if it’s getting more than that, then there’s a red flag, something’s wrong. Definitely, you want to reduce the amount of complaints you’re getting.
Then, a big one that a lot of people don’t pay attention to is people leaving your messages unread for a lot of consecutive messages. If you have a lot of people on your list that have just slowly started. They’re not opening your emails anymore, and you don’t do anything about that. You just keep emailing them at the same rate. That starts to be a really big negative signal to mailbox providers. You can start to see your reputation drop pretty suddenly, and your email start to go to spam pretty suddenly, if you aren’t cleaning your list regularly.
[0:16:43] Nathan: Okay. That’s a big debate that I hear between creators, and that I watch happen on Twitter, and sometimes I weigh, and other times I wisely just stay out of it. Just because someone’s wrong on the internet, doesn’t mean you need to correct them. But people saying like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter if I clean my list or not. If I’m sending 10,000 people when 5,000 are opening, like let’s just ignore the other 5,000. Or you get into this world where maybe the numbers matter for some, maybe you’re trying to sell a book deal. It looks better to say you have 10,000 subscribers, rather than cleaning your list and deleting 3,000 or 4,000. Or there’s a scenario where you don’t know – like not everyone has images turned on, and so you don’t know. Opens aren’t completely accurate.
There’s this big debate that happens of should I clean my list or not. You have a pretty strong stance on that. I’d love to hear that. Especially because it’s one, if anyone’s paying attention, that makes ConvertKit less money.
[0:17:43] Alyssa: Yes, so true.
[0:17:44] Nathan: If you want to trust us on this, like it is – it would be short-term beneficial for us to say don’t clean your list, but it would hurt us a lot long term. Let’s talk about that for a second.
[0:17:56] Alyssa: Yes. I was a little scared that the outcome of this podcast is, Nathan’s going to be like, “So Alyssa makes us a lot less money.” Oh, well. It’s all good. I actually just wrote a newsletter post about this, so quick plug. I have a deliverability dispatch newsletter. Basically, I talk about list cleaning strategy and how to bake it depends. So the people you’re talking about on internet who are talking about it, their sample size is themselves. They haven’t run into an issue yet, so they’re saying, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.”
But again, the difference is like, I see two billion emails a month leave our system. I helped thousands of creators, so I’ve seen some things. I have specific creators in my head where I’m like, “Ugh! They had that same thought too.” Then once they hit a certain threshold, all their emails and Gmail went to spam. It took so long to clean up the issue. I have a certain creator in my head that we all know their name and say it obviously. They had a bigger issue with this, and it was really sad. They ended up having to clean up, actually, way more subscribers than they would have had to, because they were in damage control mode, and they just needed their reputation at Gmail to get better and fast, because all our emails are going to spam. Basically, it does matter.
It is a big “it depends” situation. Do I think that every single person out there should immediately delete subscribers once they haven’t open in three minutes? No, I don’t. I don’t think that there’s a hard and fast rule that every single person has to follow. But I do know that there is a threshold of sending enough email to subscribers who haven’t opened in a long time, that will hurt your reputation, and it’s really hard to come back from. What I think is good for everyone to do is just to have a guideline that they follow to where they’re proactively cleaning up their list, so that they don’t get in a situation where they’re having to reactively do it, and it’s way more painful, and all their emails are going to spam.
Some ideas for people who are like, “I don’t have any issue and I don’t really want to clean my list.” You can reduce frequency to your cold subscribers, your unengaged subscribers. So maybe email them once a month, but you email everyone else once a week, and you send them like a monthly digest or something. That way, the effects of emailing those unengaged people, it’s going to be a lot less impactful. You can have a much longer policy. Maybe you only want to remove people who haven’t opened in a year, or maybe you want to create a really great reengagement campaign that’s super proactive and it kicks in maybe at like three months or six months. Or you don’t clean people out, but you start emailing them different sorts of emails, and your goal is to reengage them, and maybe get them to click on a link in case you’re worried that their open tracking pixels are turned off.
All that to say, you can get creative if you’re really against cleaning up your list. I totally get it. It’s probably hard to want to do it if you’ve never had an issue. But it’s also, I’m on the other side of it, where I see so much mail and I’m like, “Oh, no. Trust me, it matters. It’s not good once it happens to you.”
[0:20:45] Nathan: Yes. I think, in all of that, it’s playing a long-term game. So yes, if you don’t clean your list, that might benefit you for something short-term, by being able to be on a podcast and say, “I have 10,000 subscribers.” When only a small portion are active, or helping you in that book deal, or a sponsorship deal, or something else, none of that matters. That’s not the long-term thing. Same thing for ConvertKit. Yes, it would help us short term if we said don’t clean your list, because that would mean that your list would be bigger, and you’d pay more per month. In the same way it would help us short term if we said like, “Sure bring over that list of cold emails, so we can send to them.” But it absolutely tanks reputation long term.
I mean, it’s this is just an industry where reputation is everything. Reputation is everything in the creator industry of like, how you interact with partners and all that. But basically, the email industry has baked reputation into algorithms. That’s what we spend all our time doing, is making sure that the emails we send are the types of emails that people want to receive.
[0:21:49] Alyssa: Exactly. A brand is not going to love it if you’re like, “Oh, yes. Put an ad in my email, I have 100,000 subscribers,” but you only have 10,000 engaged subscribers. So inflating your numbers, again, it’s just not going to be good for you no matter what your goal is.
[0:22:05] Nathan: Yes. That makes sense. How does content impact deliverability? You heard people talking about like, “Oh, don’t use free in an email, because it’ll go straight to spam.” Is that true?
[0:22:16] Alyssa: I love this debate. It’s something that a lot of people in my industry love debating. Again, it’s kind of an it depends. Mostly, no. Email has just changed so much, and a lot of the content that’s out there has not changed. Back when the spam filter was invented, which really wasn’t that long ago. That was very much the case. The spam filters were using keywords they were looking for to stop spam. As we all know, unfortunately, I know it too well, spammers are pretty smart. If they know, “Oh, the word free will make me go to the spam folder. They’re not going to use the word free, and they will adapt.” Spam filters have had to get a lot smarter, just having certain keywords are no longer helpful for getting spammers out of the inbox.
For that reason, Gmail and the major mailbox providers are not looking at keywords to block your messages or send your messages to the spam folder. But they’re looking at different things when it comes to content. A note that there might be some really old B2B address you’re sending to where yes, there IT guy, especially schools’ IT systems, they have a lot of teachers who do teacher-pay-teacher type of content. They have a much harder time reaching the inbox because they’re emailing teachers. The IT people at the school districts are very strict. They want the students and teachers to not receive harmful content. Anyways, that’s why it’s an independent. There might be some systems that do look at certain keywords. But for the most part, for a lot of like B2C addresses, the big mailbox providers, it’s not certain phrases or words, but your content doesn’t matter.
Some things that do matter: text to image ratio. I see a lot of creators who will design a really beautiful email in a PDF, and then just put their PDF in the message, They’ll just put it as an image and send it. That’s not usually going to go well. Because to mailbox providers, that looks super suspicious, like that you’re trying to get around their system by just sending one big image. Best rule of thumb I like to use is just make sure there’s enough text in your email to where if images didn’t load, it would still make sense. No one would be like, “What in the world is this email saying?” There needs to be enough text there to balance out the images.
There can be like domains that you use in your message that actually do cause your message to go straight to the spam folder or be bounced. There was a period of time where Gmail was bouncing any email that contained a Bitly link in it. That sort of fluctuates depending on Bitly’s reputation. I think a lot of spammers most use Bitly. That’s one thing to keep in mind. Any link you use in your email, which is content can impact your deliverability. Make sure you’re only linking to sites that you fully trust the reputation and it’s not sort of a shared website like Bitly, where anyone can get on it and use it.
[0:25:00] Nathan: Basically, spammers we’re using Bitly or other URL shorteners to mask, like linking to a bad URL. Then, the inbox providers catch on to that, and then they sort of pay with a broad brush and say, “Okay.” Like all of a sudden, everyone who’s using this is going to go to spam or be much more likely to go to spam.
[0:25:22] Alyssa: Yep, exactly. Highly recommend not using most link shortener. Some of them are not as bad as others, especially if you have to create an account to use it or if it’s a paid service, that’s always better. But if it’s a free online thing, where you can just generate a link, that’s not usually going to go well.
[0:25:40] Nathan: Yes. Then, what about like in how you interact with your audience? Is there anything in making sure that the content is relevant to your audience? How does that fit into it?
[0:25:50] Alyssa: Yes. That’s the most important thing I would say when it comes to content, when people say, “Will this content impact deliverability?” Definitely. Because your content is going to determine how your audience engages with your emails or doesn’t engage. It’s really important that your content is relevant to your subscribers, it’s important that you have the right frequency. That’s different for every sender. But, I would say, for most senders, daily emails usually don’t work well, or multiple times a day. I do see some people try and do that, and their subscribers are just fatigued, so they stop opening. Try and find the cadence that works well for what your content is delivering. Obviously, if it’s a daily newsletter, then that’s great, like that works for you. But for most people, weekly is a pretty good cadence, or like two times a week.
Then, yes, I think relevance to your subscribers, don’t just send an email to send an email and check that off your to-do list. Make sure that if you’re writing to your audience, that you have something to say and that it’s on brand with your voice, and why they opted in to your newsletter, or your audience to begin with. I know, I’m thinking of a certain – I think we were both on this email thread. We had a creator reach out to us and they’re like, “My open rate drops so much this week. I don’t understand what’s going on.” They did something different with their content. Normally, they only talk about finance, and then that one addition. I think they talked about like something happening in the world, and they had a really low open rate.
It was like, “Well, I understand that this thing is important to you. It doesn’t mean don’t send it, but your audience was there for financial information, and it just didn’t resonate with them.” I would say, try to stick to why someone joined your list. Try to make sure every email you send delivers value, whether it’s just insightful, or entertaining, or telling a story, or giving a coupon code, whatever it may be, and that you’re not overwhelming your audience or not sending frequently enough. I would make sure to send at least once a month to keep your reputation up and to make sure your subscribers remember who you are.
[0:27:51] Nathan: It sounds like – it’s a lot of setting expectations, and then meeting those expectations. They’ll come in and say like, “You know, sign up for my weekly email, and then you send every day, people are going to be upset about that.” But then on the other hand, if you’re saying, “Hey, this is a monthly email that you’re going to get,” and you only get two at every three months, or every six months, then you’re not going to have the enough engagement for the inbox providers to actually, basically remember who you are. Let alone the recipient to remember who you are.
[0:28:22] Alyssa: Exactly.
[0:28:22] Nathan: This comes up a lot, right? Because we have creators migrating to ConvertKit, and I get to see you deal with either some really active creators, who are just moving from a Mailchimp or Active Campaign or something else over to ConvertKit. Then you also get some that are like project customers, where it’s like, “Hey, I built this email list to a hundred thousand people.” Then I took a couple of years off, and there’s got to be some people. I’m coming back, but there’s got to be some people who still want content from me. How do you tackle those projects without tanking reputation, but still finding who the engaged subscribers are in that group?
[0:29:01] Alyssa: Yes, those are rough, but it’s something we do. One thing I always do first is run the list through a list validation tool we have. Since you all are listening to Nathan’s podcast, and you’re friends of ours, if you just write into ConvertKit support, we can run that on your list. It will basically tell us which subscribers are invalid or risky. That gets rid of anyone who is obviously going to bounce because we want to minimize bounce. Having a really large amount of bounces all at once can impact your deliverability. That’s step one, just to like remove those invalid emails.
Then step two is to make a plan to where we can kind of tiptoe in descending, and cause the least amount of damage possible and be ready to pause at any moment if we need to. I usually ask the person like, “Do you have any engagement data that you can tell me, whether it’s like scores, some other ESPs and we do too have subscriber scores? That helps a lot, and then I can say, “Okay. I want you to only send your five stars first, and then your four stars, and so on. If they don’t have that, I’ll try and say like, “Can you send to everyone who opened an email from you in the last six months, just to give us some sort of data to go off of? If they don’t have that, we just got to go randomly.
I usually make the audience into much smaller chunks, it depends on really what their overall size is, and how soon they need to send to everyone. But I would say, it’s usually 10,000 to 20,000 in a chunk, and be like, okay, let’s just email this group of people first and see what happens. If their open rates are okay, and we don’t see a ton of spam complaints, then like, okay, let’s go on to group two. If it were ever, that they send that email and the open rates are terrible, like below 10%, or they get a really high complaint rate, or I hear from Spamhaus, or something like that, then I think it would be a harder conversation to be like, “Okay. We can’t keep going with this plan.
How can we maybe start a list from scratch or try to get a new list of subscribers based on your current audience and people who follow you in other places?” We don’t normally have to do that. We need to go slow and steady in those scenarios to reduce any reputation damage.
[0:31:13] Nathan: Yes. Often, that works great for creators. Sometimes, they’re like, “Oh, I have this book launch coming or something else,” and they’re in a hurry. But that’s where the list validation things that we can do can help. Because then we can always go through and be like, “Look, this is not even a valid email address.” There’s no MX or no mail records for this domain. This domain doesn’t actually even exist anymore.
[0:31:34] Alyssa: That happens a lot, yes.
[0:31:37] Nathan: Clean out all of that first. Then we also have the ability just because we’ve – I don’t remember the number. I think it’s something like 800 million unique email addresses across ConvertKit that we’ve seen before, and so we can start to be like, “We do a lot of that.” Am I allowed to say this? I don’t know. I’m going to say it anyway. We do a lot of that in the spam detection side of things. Someone imports a list and it’s like, it’s not just about the IP address of who imported. It’s like, “No, we’ve seen 75% of these email addresses before, and they’re not good.” Like, we can do a lot of comparison and validation, just from having the amount of data that we have.
[0:32:14] Alyssa: Right. It helps.
[0:32:16] Nathan: If you’re migrating to a new email platform, and you’re worried about reputation, something that we do sometimes is get your email sequences migrated first, especially if you have traffic to your website. Because those – someone might say like, “Oh, my open rates are really high, like 75%, 80%.” Because usually, open rates start high and then decline over time. If someone has just subscribed to your list, and they’re getting the welcome sequence and all that, that can be a great thing to get initial reputation on ConvertKit’s platform. Then the inbox provider see that and be like, “Oh, this is good.” Then we can import more like legacy subscribers as well.
[0:32:53] Alyssa: Yes. I love that strategy. It works really well.
[0:32:55] Nathan: Yep. That’s good. A lot has happened with open rates over the years. The last two years in particular with Apple’s iOS changes. I’m curious, what do you consider good open rates and maybe good click rates as well? Then, how was Apple’s privacy changes impacted the industry?
[0:33:14] Alyssa: Yes, such a good question. I feel like pre-Apple stuff, which I guess was a year ago now. I think it was – oh gosh. With COVID, I don’t even know what times are.
[0:33:23] Nathan: Yes, I don’t know what time is it.
[0:33:23] Alyssa: It’s been a while. I don’t know. But before Apple’s new iOS change, which I guess in case anyone doesn’t know we’re talking about briefly, they’ll tell you. With Apple’s current operating system, if you use their mail app on your phone, or your laptop, or even your Apple Watch, I don’t know if people do that. Whenever you open the mail app, the first time you downloaded that new iOS, it popped up and said something scary like, “Do you want to share your information, your IP address, and all this stuff with people who are sending you emails?” It was basically like, “Yes, protect my information” or “No, tell them everything.” Not exactly, but it was to the point where like, anyone would click “Yes, protect my information.”
Basically, whenever someone says, “Yes, I want to protect my information.” Whenever someone sends them an email with an open tracking pixel in it, which pretty much all bulk messages, like promotional messages, have an open tracking pixel, Apple will automatically open that pixel. Even if the actual user did not open the message, it’s going to show as open. So for that reason, open rates across all emails have gone way up. Before they did that, I would have set a good open rate is above 20%, and really good open rate is above 30%. But now, that goes out the window.
I would say a good open rate now is 30% and above. That’s sort of even on the low side of good 40 is pretty solid. A lot of creators I see these days have 40% and above open rates. Those are people with really engaged listing, great content, but that’s still sort of what I would aim for. I would aim for 40% or above open rate. I know this has caused like just a ton of debate on what this means for opens. It’s changed a lot. The way I like to talk about it is, now, you can’t really look in and say, “Oh, this says email@example.com opened my message. I fully trust that he opened my message.” I would not trust that. But what you can know is it probably went through his inbox.
Because with a lot of the testing that’s been done, we’ve seen that if the message goes to the spam folder in Apple Mail, they will not automatically open the message. If you send out an email, and you see a huge drop in open rates, there’s still a good signal there that your message went to the spam folder, and that you need to do some digging. If your open rate is consistent, and it’s high, it’s hitting inboxes, which is really one of the biggest things you want to be concerned about with your open rate. If it comes to you wanting to know, did this person have their eyeballs on my email? That’s really not what open rate is good for anymore.
What it’s good for is, did this person have the opportunity to have their eyeballs on my email? Did it go to their inbox? Yes. Then, from there, if you want more detailed information, I would really look at conversions, honestly. Clicks even are a little bit tough these days. More and more mailbox providers are starting to automatically click links to check them for safety. It’s not as common as automatic opens. But still, I would get out of the mindset of even looking for clicks as being accurate. I would look for, what do you want people to actually do? Do you want them to buy something? Do you want them to reply to your email? Do you want them to download your podcast? And look for whatever metric is the end result to measure success.
[0:36:35] Nathan: Yes, that makes sense. Those non-human interactions are definitely climbing for a ton of different reasons. It’s also interesting just how it plays out in different providers. I remember – was there a thing a few years ago where Yahoo was clicking every link in emails, including like the unsubscribe? They were doing something weird. I remember, we had to build in bot detection specifically for Yahoo accounts.
[0:37:01] Alyssa: Oh, wow. That might have been pre-me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something crazy like that happened.
[0:37:05] Nathan: Yes, there’s always these chips that come up. Another thing that I’m curious about is, just how do the conversations work behind the scenes. A bit of a leading question, because I know the answer to it. But do you have relationships with people at the inbox providers, and how – what’s the industry conversation? Because an individual creator, if they run into a problem, they can’t do anything,
[0:37:30] Alyssa: Right. Oh, yes.
[0:37:31] Nathan: Yahoo does not care. They won’t talk to the individual. As a head of deliverability and reputation at an ESP, what relationships do you have?
[0:37:42] Alyssa: Yes, that’s such a good question and it’s like a hidden thing that people should be concerned about when it comes to their ESP and who they choose. It’s not something that most people would even think about. But something interesting is that ConvertKit is a member of this group called M3AAWG, which is an acronym. It’s M3-A-A-W-G.
[0:38:02] Nathan: This is the most obscure acronym now.
[0:38:05] Alyssa: I know. I’m sorry. Every time I say it, people are like, “What are you saying?” M3AAWG. It’s fun to say.
[0:38:10] Nathan: But it’s like secret society, basically.
[0:38:12] Alyssa: Yes, it kind of is. I know, I’m like, am I supposed to talk about it right now, but I can talk about it. It’s a group that’s really hard to get into. It’s only for companies and organizations who are fighting abuse online. To get in, it’s like a really intense application process, where you have to prove that you’re actively fighting abuse. Like we kind of talked about in the beginning of this podcast. We cannot allow people to send unsolicited emails or anything like that through our platform when we’re a member of this group. And so we have a good reputation in that group.
The other people in that group are businesses, organizations are Gmail, and Microsoft, and Spamhaus, like the largest block list provider out there. Because we’re in this group, we have a big in with these people and a relationship built. Plus, I get to see them face-to-face when I attend these conferences, which is really awesome. That’s been great. If I ever see any weirdness, a good example of this, I think it was the day after Black Friday. Which that whole Black Friday, Cyber Monday is like my Super Bowl. I’m like on my computer while my family is eating jerky, but it’s fine, refreshing numbers and making sure everything looks good.
One of those days, Melissa, my teammate, and I saw some bounces and the bounce reason mentioned Spamhaus. I’m like, “Oh my goodness. This is not happening.” But luckily, I could just email my friends at Spamhaus and be like, “Hey, what’s going on?” It was like, they had an outage and so it was causing a bunch of bounces all over the place. It wasn’t specific to ConvertKit or anything we were doing and they fixed it immediately. That’s just a good example of the relationships we built there.
know when I was on maternity leave, Melissa saw some weirdness with Yahoo and just reached out to their postmaster, Lily, who’s amazing, and she helped immediately. That’s huge. It’s not something that all ESPs have in their arsenal. I would say, if you’re shopping around for an ESP, you know, I already said who you should choose. But if you’re still shopping, you can ask their support team. Like, “Hey, do you have a deliverability and compliance team? Are you members of M3AAWG? That’s M3-A-A-W-G. That’s something you should absolutely require of any ESP’s [inaudible 0:40:26].
[0:40:27] Nathan: Yes. I think, I bring everything full circle. So much about deliverability is the content you send, and basically who your neighbor is on these domains, on the IP pools, on email platforms. A lot of these companies that are valuing short-term revenue, over long-term reputation are not going to be allowed to join M3AAWG and be in these inner circles. Or if they do, they’re going to get kicked out.
[0:40:59] Alyssa: Yes, it’s pretty strict.
[0:41:00] Nathan: Yes, very strict. I mentioned IPs a second ago, something that creators, that I hear them talking about is like, “Oh, I want a dedicated IP” or asking, “Should I use a custom domain?” As I understand it, the answer, like many things in life are, “It depends.” What are some of those things? Maybe start with custom domains, and then get into dedicated IPs?
[0:41:23] Alyssa: Yes. I can probably lump them both together to start a little bit. Basically, the main thing is, if you want to use what we call at ConvertKit, a verified sending domain or a dedicated IP, either one. Really, what you need to be okay with is you getting into the inbox is now going to depend a lot more on you and your reputation. You need to be really confident and have your ducks in a row. And we’re not going to be there to help you as much in the background.
Essentially, when you don’t have a verified sending domain setup, the message is still coming from you. But in the background, all the authentication is happening with ConvertKit’s domain and IP. Because we have this really healthy reputation that we’ve been talking about this whole episode, that helps a lot of creators, kind of gives them a boost and gives them some notoriety. It’s like you’re trying to get into a club, and you’re like, “I’m with Nathan Berry. The guy’s like, “Oh, yes. Come on. We know him. We’re involved.”
[0:42:15] Nathan: Absolutely. Let’s go clubbing together. It’s definitely my scene.
[0:42:21] Alyssa: Yes, I figured. But if you set up a verified sending domain, or you go the dedicated IP route, is like trying to get into the club without Nathan Barry. So if you feel good about it, and you’re like, “I’ve got clout, I’ve got the reputation, I’m good.” That’s totally fine, and something a lot of senders love and have really great results with. I would just make sure that you’re going to go that route, you send enough mail. You have to send enough to sustain that reputation.
Basically, if you don’t send enough volume, or you don’t send frequently enough, the mailbox providers, they don’t trust you sending as much. Because they’re just like, “We haven’t seen enough information to decide what we think about you.” So send regularly, at the very minimum once a month to at least, I would say, it depends, like he said. I would aim for at least 10,000 messages a month to sustain that reputation. Make sure you’re cleaning your list, like we talked about, even if you don’t think you need to. Have some sort of plan where you’re being proactive about that, you’re sending really great content. If you have all of that set up and you’re good to go, then feel free to set up a verified sending domain.
A dedicated IP, again, it’s just a lot of work to maintain that reputation all on your own. But if that’s something you want, and you feel confident doing that, you can just reach out to our team, and we’ll definitely help you with it. But for a lot of senders, it’s just more work and headache than being on our shared IPs, which are shared with other awesome creators with really great content and great open rates. It’s just sort of like everyone boosting each other up.
[0:43:54] Nathan: That’s something that I find myself often talking people out of a dedicated IP. Because like, do you really want it to be just based on you? And something happens, and you’re like, “Oh, I took a month off. I did a sabbatical or had a kid, and did a month, or three months, or whatever parental leave.” You told your subscribers like, “Hey, I’m going to take this season off from the newsletter. We’ll be back in a few months.” They’re like, “Great.” But the inbox providers, they don’t know or care.
[0:44:25] Alyssa: They don’t know.
[0:44:27] Nathan: If you’re sharing your reputation with other great creators, those creators stayed consistent that whole time. The fact that you dropped off really didn’t matter that much.
[0:44:36] Alyssa: Exactly. It gives you so much more slack to make mistakes, to take time off, like you said, to have an email that doesn’t go so well, maybe, whatever it is. But when you’re on a dedicated IP, everything you do is kind of under a microscope, and it just matters way more.
[0:44:50] Nathan: Are there any other common mistakes that creators make with deliverability or common misunderstandings?
[0:44:57] Alyssa: Oh, goodness. It’s a hard one. I think we need to get touch on the promotions tab since you brought it up, and it is one that I hear a lot. Let’s get into it. The promotions tab, like I said earlier, it’s still is the inbox. I know it’s hard to hear, because a lot of people want to be mad at it and just call it like the spam folder. The truth, it’s still the inbox. I know it’s hard, because a lot of times your open rates will drop some, whenever you go into promotions tab. But my view on it, and I would say like every other reputable deliverability person’s view on it is that you just need to embrace it, and not fight the algorithms because they’re going to do what they’re going to do.
If you’re sending a newsletter, or some sort of email to a list of people, it is promotional in nature based on what Gmail classifies as promotional. Gmail really wants the primary tab to be for transactional messages, like messages from your boss, or a message from your grandma, or a reminder from your dentist or things like that. Where it’s like, you really must see this probably in a timely manner, and you’re probably going to reply, it’s transactional. They don’t want, even if it’s the best newsletter in the world, and it’s not really selling anything, they would put that more in the promotions tab. Although not all of those emails end up going to promotions.
I see a lot of creators like dig their heels in and like, “I don’t want to be in the promotions tab,” and they’ll try and trick the system. Maybe you do find something that works for a month, and you’re going into the primary tab. Gmail’s algorithms are changing constantly and it’s machines, it’s not humans who are reading the message. There’s a good chance, it’s just going to stop working whatever hack you found, and you’re back at square one, and it’s just going to drive you crazy.
Then another way I like to think about it, we’ve talked a lot about quality over quantity here. From what I’ve seen, a lot of times, your open rates are higher in the primary tab, but they’re not necessarily higher-quality opens. A lot of times, it’s people just trying to get to inbox zero. They see that number there of unread messages, and so they’re going to click into your email just to kind of get rid of it. But they’re not in a place to sit down with a newsletter, or shop, or whatever it may be, because they’re just in productivity mode. But if someone opens your message in the promotions tab, it’s a much stronger open, because they went through a sea of promotional emails. They don’t have to click on those to get to inbox zero, and they have pictures out of the bunch, and they sat down with it, and read it, or maybe clicked some links.
Yes, I would try not to obsess over the promotions tab. I know a lot of people do and it’s hard not to. But it’s just honestly a losing game and it’s set up the way Gmail intended it to be set up.
[0:47:38] Nathan: Yes. We’ve played around with it a lot. We’ve found that shorter emails often tend to do better, since a lot of that filtering is content-based. I mean, I think also just having the approach that we’ve advocated for for a long time of like, send the emails like you’re writing to a friend.
[0:47:56] Alyssa: Right. Those do much better.
[0:47:58] Nathan: Yes. It doesn’t mean that, sometimes like Gmail will put those in the promotions tab, but if you keep that approach. The other thing is for individual senders or individual recipients. If they drag that email from the promotions tab over to the inbox tab, my understanding is that, pretty much always stay there. Is that right? Because that’s a rule for that recipient.
[0:48:17] Alyssa: Yes, it’s supposed to. Another thing that’s great is encouraging replies like I mentioned. If you’re receiving a lot of replies, that actually helps Gmail’s algorithms think that your message is more transactional, because people are writing back to you. That’s still a really great thing I would recommend.
[0:48:32] Nathan: Yes, that’s good. One of my favorite ways to get replies is to, in that welcome sequence. I don’t think people realize this, automations are really, really important for deliverability. Because it helps you warm your list, it helps people stay engaged, and then it helps get replies. So in that welcome sequence, maybe email three, email four you say, “Hey”, let’s say we’re teaching design or teach someone how to learn to design in Figma. You ask question, “What are you struggling with Figma? What do you get hung up on? Hit reply and let me know.”
That does two things as a content creator. It gives you this constant feed of what articles or videos you should create. Because people are like, “Oh, I’m stuck on this. I don’t know how to do auto layout,” or whatever else. So constantly producing ideas for you, which is great. But the second thing is, it’s just, it constantly generates replies. People are like, “Wow.” And by people, I mean, inbox providers are like, “Wow.”
[0:49:25] Alyssa: Yes, the robots.
[0:49:27] Nathan: The robots are going, “Real people are engaging with these emails, they must be good and worthwhile.” Instead of trying to remember like, “Oh, yes. On my fourth broadcast of the month, I want to ask a question that gets replies.” You’re just like, “No, I build it and do a system. I get replies from subscribers all the time.”
[0:49:49] Alyssa: I also have used an example of something you did on our deliverability to find podcasts a lot. You can correct me if I’m wrong about anything. But I think, when you were thinking of doing your paid newsletter about money, you first like said to your main newsletter, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this thing. Reply if you’re interested.” And you’ve received thousands, hundreds?
[0:50:11] Nathan: Hundreds, yes.
[0:50:12] Alyssa: Hundreds. That’s a lot of replies. I’m sure that did wonders, because you already have great deliverability, but that was still like probably a huge boost for you. So I think getting creative like that too is a good idea.
[0:50:25] Nathan: Yes, and it keeps this whole group engaged. Another thing – we talked about this a bunch. I was just on deliverability defined as a guest, so we’ve caught it both ways on the podcast. But in that episode, I talked a bunch about the paid newsletter.Some of that’s really interesting. If you’re doing a paid newsletter to a small group, like this 500 people. I can’t remember the open rate off the top my head, but it’s something like 75% or –
[0:50:51] Alyssa: It’s crazy. It might even be 80 or something.
[0:50:53] Nathan: Yes, it’s really, really high. Like that, that’s another thing that boosts reputation, because the inbox provider is seeing, “It’s not a small number of emails, only 500 a week or so.” But they’re seeing like, “Wow, people are very engaged.” I often ask for replies in that email, and then I’ll incorporate some of the replies into a future version of the email. It ends up being like this very virtuous cycle that works well.
[0:51:20] Alyssa: So good.
[0:51:21] Nathan: One other thing that I want to talk about, because it’s very timely. Today is February 27th that we’re recording this. We just put like the secret alpha version of our Creator Network live. Which you worked on a ton. Do you want to give listeners a little rundown of what that is? By the time this episodes goes live, we’ll actually be publicly announced rather than just a secret group of creators.
[0:51:47] Alyssa: I know. It feels weird to even talk about it. I’m like, “Am I allowed? But yes, I can talk about it.” The Creator Network is a way for creators to partner up together to help each other grow their audience. The first iteration of it is, post subscription recommendations, which is where, when you go to one creators sign-up form, sign up for their email list. After you subscribe, it’s going to pop up and show you who they recommend. And you can just, in one, click, subscribe to those other creators. If you want, it will have a little description about those creators and why you should subscribe to them. It’s just a really great way for creators to partner up with other creators who are similar to them and share the same topics, or similar content, and help each other grow, and help their audience find other creators that they’re going to love. So, it’s so exciting.
[0:52:40] Nathan: Yes. It’s something that I’ve been really excited. I’ve actually had live on my account for a little bit promoting your newsletter, actually.
[0:52:48] Alyssa: I know. You’ve been sending me a lot. I think there’s been like over 50 or something creators, which for me, that’s like a fourth of my list, so that’s great.
[0:52:57] Nathan: But it’s fun, right? Because a lot of people see that I’m also recommending you and a few other newsletters and they opt-in. Until we’re now building this is core functionality into ConvertKit, launching with a little alpha group of just 40 creators to test out. But then, we’ll go a lot bigger from there. But in that, this kind of recommendation functionality of helping creators partner up with each other. It exists more in the industry, right? The two main examples of it are, Substack has the recommendations feature, which has some similarities. Then SparkLoop has their Upscribe. For somebody who doesn’t know, if you’re not in CreativePro, you can get all of SparkLoops’ suite of newsletter growth tools for free.
In that, these things already exists where you can set it up. But one thing that we’re really pushing on the credit network side of things is customizing the automations to the recommendation. You actually just dropped the video in like our private creators Slack group. Talk through what that is and why it matters, because it really overlaps with deliverability.
[0:54:05] Alyssa: Yes. Our version of the Creator Network and recommendations is, like Nathan and I just talked about, it’s very on-brand for us that we want everyone to have really high-quality subscribers and a high-quality audience. We built this with that in mind. One thing that’s important about ConvertKit’s version of recommendations is that you can set up all sorts of automated sequences for the people who join your list. The people who come into your list through recommendations are different than subscribers who come in through the normal ways because they don’t know who you are. They just know, “h, Nathan recommended Alyssa, okay. I trust Nathan, I’ll subscribe.” They saw maybe a couple sentences about my newsletter. But for the most part, they don’t really know what I’m about or what my newsletter is about. With ConvertKit, you can’t do this with Substack. Sorry, Substack.
[0:54:55] Nathan: Automations, they’re an important feature.
[0:54:57] Alyssa: Yes, automations. Yes. So I set up this little automated welcome email, so that people don’t just start receiving my emails out of nowhere and are like, “Who is this person? I forget why I’m on her list.” Right off the bat, whenever they subscribe, they’re going to get an email from me saying, “Hi, I’m Melissa. This is why you’re here. Nathan recommended me. I say, this is what I do, here’s my podcast.” Might even have personalized stuff like, “Here’s a picture of me, and my baby, and my cat,” because people love that.
Then, most importantly, I have a section on what to expect. I’m like, “You’re going to get a weekly email from me on Fridays.” I think my newsletter is pretty different than most newsletters. It’s basically all text and it’s very much like an online course on deliverability. I make sure to call that out. Of course, I asked for a reply there, because I have to do that. Good for deliverability, good for engagement. That’s a huge key thing in ConvertKit, that you can’t do with other systems.
Then another thing that I think we can share, hopefully I don’t get in trouble is, that in our directory, where you find creators, you’re probably going to be wondering like, “Well, who should I recommend?” We are using much smarter tools to help you find creators that you share a common audience with, or commonalities with, so that you’re not just recommending some random person. Like you have a newsletter on finance, and they have a newsletter on fitness, like maybe some little like both things, but who knows. It will be like you’re recommending someone who has a very similar audience that you do, they send very similar content, and there’s a really good chance that the people on their list are going to want to also be on your list. So that off the bat just gives you a better success rate at recommendations, but also higher quality recommendations.
[0:56:43] Nathan: Yes. That’s using the subscriber data that we have, from behind the scenes of running. I don’t know how you would quantify this. I think the largest network of creators on a single email platform, I’m not sure if someone – if any other email provider wants to contest that, we can share some numbers.
[0:57:00] Alyssa: Let’s see. Show us your data.
[0:57:02] Nathan: Yes, exactly. But just from having 45,000 paying customers, paying creators who are using us to run their newsletters, there’s a lot of data there. So we can say, “Hey, you actually send similar content. You have similar subscribers to this other creator, so maybe the two of you want to partner up to grow faster.” Because that’s the biggest thing, like growing an email list, and building relationships is so hard.
[0:57:26] Alyssa: It’s so hard.
[0:57:28] Nathan: It’s very time-consuming. So yes, the Creator Network is really just a feature to make that so much easier, and then, to help you grow faster. But then, to do it in a way that is going to be long-lasting and sustainable. Exactly what you’re saying of like, yes, you got a new subscriber. But then if they’re like, “Who are you? I forgot how I got on your list.” Or if they’re treated the same, as someone who maybe read your blog, and then subscribed. It’s an entirely different subscription path. So you need to be able to customize the emails to those people, and you need to be able to do it in an automated way. Because no one has time to be like, “Oh, I forgot to send a Friday email to the people that got referred to my list this week.”
[0:58:16] Alyssa: Sounds terrible.
[0:58:17] Nathan: We all have lives, and kids, and dogs, and all of that that we need to take care of.
[0:58:24] Alyssa: But one of my favorite things about the Creator Network is the fact that, creators of all different sizes can recommend each other. Just so fun to see when a really large peer recommend someone who has a smaller list and what kind of impact that has for them. It’s huge. Imagine your favorite creator who has hundreds of thousands of subscribers decides to put you on their recommendations post subscription. Then your phone is blowing up with new subscriber notifications all the time. I think that’s what we’re going to be seeing and that’s just so exciting to me.
[0:58:56] Nathan: It’s just like paying it forward idea. I think every creator has this moment where someone took a chance on them, and either featured them in a newsletter, or give them a shout-out on Twitter, or invited them to come to your workshop to their audience. Like some of those things were like, you may not have had the full reputation to warrant it, or the body of work. And someone said, “Oh, no. This is good. I see the spark of something. Come on my podcast and talk about –”, whatever it is. I think the Creator Network is going to give a lot more opportunity for that. Then we’ll just help more and more creators grow an audience, to help more and more creators earn a living. That’s what we’re all about.
[0:59:36] Alyssa: Exciting stuff.
[0:59:37] Nathan: Well, we covered a ton of things on the details of deliverability, and how we do things behind the scenes at ConvertKit. Where should people go to subscribe to your newsletter, listen to your podcast, all these things?
[0:59:50] Alyssa: Yes. So you can go to deliverability.ck.page/newsletter. We’ll put it in the show notes. To sign up for my newsletter, you can go to Alyssa Dulin on Twitter. I’m sure you’ll see Nathan retweet me every now and then if I’m lucky. I do tweet a lot about ConvertKit, but I should start tweeting about some other things. I tweet about deliverability every now and then. The Deliverability Defined podcast is one of the top places I would recommend you go if you enjoy this. It’s basically this, but three seasons of it, and we’re on our fourth season now. Nathan joined us on the first episode, which is out now. He shares numbers about how much money he’s made from his paid evergreen newsletter. If you’re interested in that, highly recommend going to Deliverability Defined.
[1:00:38] Nathan: Sounds good. Well, thanks for coming on. I’ll see you in Slack as we go and build the future of ConvertKit.
[1:00:44] Alyssa: Exciting. Thanks for having me.
[1:00:45] Nathan: See you.