How Tedium founder Ernie Smith uses EmailOctopus to broadcast the banal

Categories Customer case study

Ernie Smith is on a mission: to share and celebrate the dull side of the internet.

With his twice-weekly newsletter Tedium, Ernie delves into the most mundane corners of the web and shares his findings with a growing fanbase. Since 2015 he’s kept 9,000 subscribers informed about everything from corduroy to walkie talkies to those stringy bits on bananas you never knew the name for (they’re called phloem bundles, FYI).

Tedium’s mission is to find fascination in even the most tedious topics. “I try to write about the most obscure and unexpected topics I can find,” Ernie explains, “but the goal is to show that everything has a history, and that history is usually interesting.”

These days I frequently see open rates upwards of 40%. That’s significantly higher than when I was on MailChimp.
Ernie SmithFounder – Tedium

The blog has grown steadily since it launched, with recognition from Digg and NPR’s Planet Money helping spread the word. But as Ernie’s subscriber base increased, so did his email marketing bill, and he found it increasingly difficult to make a profit. “I used MailChimp for the first year and a half and it got very expensive once the audience topped a certain number.”

Equally, the process of serving his subscribers started taking up far too much of his time: “MailChimp’s production process was very cut-and-paste, which could add as much as an hour to my production time on a given night.”

After shopping around for an alternative, Ernie decided to make the move to EmailOctopus a year ago. “It was a breath of fresh air,” he says, “both in terms of price and the simplicity of the tool. The interface is so simple – which, at a time when MailChimp’s was becoming much more complex, was a welcome change.”

“A big thing for me was simplifying my production processes, because I now treat email production as a separate thing and use EmailOctopus just for scheduling and distribution. Also, switching to EmailOctopus helped make Tedium profitable when, if I were to continue using MailChimp, it just wouldn’t be. And that’s proven a long-term benefit to the site and its success, because it’s one less thing to worry about. I’m not scared of getting a huge surge of subscribers, like I was on MailChimp.”

Now that Ernie spends less time producing his email campaigns, he can focus on building better content for his subscribers. “These days I frequently see open rates upwards of 40%. That’s significantly higher than when I was on MailChimp. The extra time I’ve gotten back from using EmailOctopus has allowed me to spend time improving the emails and their design.”

EmailOctopus doesn’t have the scale or the marketing of larger competitors, but what you get from that is better service. These guys are willing to help at the drop of an email. I recommend them to everyone.
Ernie SmithFounder – Tedium

And it’s not just the low cost and easy-to-use interface that keeps Ernie with EmailOctopus. Integration with Zapier means he can easily build his lists, and the personalised service he gets using a smaller platform is above and beyond what the bigger players offer:  “EmailOctopus doesn’t have the scale or the marketing of larger competitors, but what you get from that is better service. These guys are willing to help at the drop of an email. I recommend them to everyone.”

Ernie’s looking forward to growing Tedium over the coming years and using EmailOctopus to keep his subscribers served with biweekly boredom. “I hope to use EmailOctopus for years to come, as it’s a great tool that helps me focus on publishing independently rather than being tied to a third-party provider. Anything that allows me to have independence is awesome, and EmailOctopus allows that in so many ways.”

Which means we can all keep up with life’s important questions. Like what’s the difference between styrofoam and polystyrene anyway?

Subscribe to Tedium here.

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