For the past 17 years, Popbitch has made its business spilling the secrets of the rich and famous. Now with a subscriber base in the hundreds of thousands, the weekly newsletter prides itself on dishing the very best dirt each and every Thursday.
While Popbitch likes to keep its news lighthearted, it’s broken some serious stories over the years. Longtime readers will have heard from Popbitch long before the mainstream media about major scandals from the News International phone hacking controversy in the UK to secrets behind several celebrity super-injunctions and, most recently, the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.
The team at Popbitch like to keep things simple, and they’ve kept to a tried and tested weekly newsletter format since 1999. “Our entire business is based around one weekly email,” explains Popbitch writer Chris Lochery. So finding the best possible way of fulfilling their email campaigns has always been essential. When Popbitch started, Chris and the team managed sends through a custom-built server, which did the job at first but didn’t give the flexibility they needed as their subscriber base grew.
The support and help from EmailOctopus has been so good.
A move to MailChimp in 2014, however, brought its own problems, including new pricing. “As an American firm, they operate under different laws to us here in Europe, which added a lot of complications and frustrations,” says Chris. “For example, we’ve had a good relationship for years with partners in the gaming and gambling industry, but under MailChimp’s rules we couldn’t include their content. When you add the complications of with dealing with different levels of management, plus their various time differences, it made even minor problems into big hassles .”
After hearing about EmailOctopus from a friend earlier this year, the team decided to make the switch in May. Working with a small, locally based team has given them the flexibility they enjoyed at MailChimp with more efficient, personalised service. “The support and help from EmailOctopus has been so good,” says Chris. “Swift, helpful, and successful. The rare times that we’ve had a problem, someone was on the case within minutes.”
And, importantly for a small company like Popbitch, it all comes at a lower price: “In terms of monthly costs, EmailOctopus is about half the price of the similar sorts of options. As the platform is absolutely perfect for our needs, we’d honestly just be wasting that extra money if we’d have gone with anyone else.”
EmailOctopus also helped solve another problem Popbitch were facing: finding an email service provider who could deliver a functional HTML template which would preserve the newsletter’s signature simple feel and keep their readers happy.
“We have fewer hard bounces, better open rates, lower unsubscribe rates.
“Popbitch has a well-established lo-fi look to it,” Chris explains. “Our loyal readers had been used to reading it as a plain text email for 17 years – and every time we tried to dabble with HTML formatting, readers would complain. However, given our slightly risqué name and the uncensored nature of our editorial content, sending as a plain-text email made us a prime target for spam filters.”
“Switching from plain text to HTML was one way we were told we could improve our chances at getting through filters, but everyone we turned to gave us flashy, fussy options. No one seemed able to create something simple that would keep our trademark look. EmailOctopus were the only people who showed us an HTML template that was exactly what we asked for.”
Popbitch clearly know their readers well: as well as improving the deliverability of their emails, the new HTML template has also driven significant improvements across campaigns. “We have fewer hard bounces, better open rates, lower unsubscribe rates,” Chris says.
“We’ve been adding a lot of new readers recently, too, so it’s great to know that they’re in safe hands. As long as we can continue to send out our weekly collection of gossip, music and swearwords – and not get penalised for something that brings joy to so many – we’ll be sticking with EmailOctopus.”
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