Yem Jam (Vol. 8)
Hope everyone is enjoying the long summer days. 🌞
To kick things off, a few updates across our key work streams:
Providing benchmarking and insights. Over the last month or so, with heightened summer travel, we've seen downward pressure on new user traffic, signups, and engagement. These headwinds are present across most mediums (i.e. newsletters, Twitter, YouTube). Our customers seem to value this type of context, even at a small scale.
Working with first ConvertKit customer. Substack and ConvertKit are quite different in functionality and how each define key metrics. We want to create a data model that allows for reliable comparisons across platforms. This allows us to provide benchmarking for all creators, not just those on a particular platform. We also want to make it easy for creators to choose which platform is best for them over time. If they switch tools, we can help reduce any change in reporting or their ongoing growth efforts.
Running growth tests. We've been able to repeat a few winners over time and for different newsletters. We've had a tangible impact on engagement and revenue. The hard part will be removing ourselves from the process.
Building a Communication Stack
One thing we want to avoid with Yem is having to convince creators to switch platforms to use our products. It's important we're complementary to products our customers are already using and enjoying.
The tradeoff is we have to work within the constraints of those tools. For example, with Substack, it’s difficult to automate recurring lifecycle efforts. With ConvertKit, segmenting the audience can be a bit of a challenge.
We’re exploring how we could test the benefits of building a complementary communications stack. In addition to helping automate some of our growth efforts, it could provide longer-term value as well:
Enable multi-channel communication (SMS, WhatsApp)
Allow creators to move platforms without losing important growth features (i.e. for a newsletter, user onboarding and re-engagement campaigns)
Opportunity to provide better personalization for audience
I think the last point is pretty exciting. A few examples to bring it to life.
We're working with a few newsletters that publish 5 times per week. There's a sizable group of subs that open every email. But there's at least a few folks who may prefer a once-a-week email, where there's a summary of the week's 5 articles. The reader can choose their own journey. The creator benefits as well, in the form of better health metrics (i.e. open rates) and deliverability.
The other end of the spectrum is where it gets fun: the super fan. As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge Tim Urban / WaitButWhy fan. I want all the notifications. What podcasts or YouTube videos was Tim on last week? What was he saying on Twitter? What new WBW merch launched? What's going on in the WBW community? What’s coming soon (live events, upcoming posts, new projects)?
In a similar vein, Ben Thompson wrote about Passport, an open-source project that provides "enterprise software for creators". Part of the functionality allows users to select how they receive content from Stratechery.
It's easy to imagine how this could expand to include more creator products: job boards, cohort-based classes, rolling funds, and so on. Data will become essential in reducing the noise for the audience. There will be a big opportunity to help creators tailor comms and products towards different audience segments.
To those that reached out in the absence of last week's Yem Jam, thank you for checking in! :)
I was visiting friends & family in the Carolinas, and then spent a handful of days in a vibrant NYC. I ran into some travel issues and writing this after spending the night in the Denver airport. Forgive any sluggish prose! 😬
As always, I appreciate your support. Talk next week!