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December 20, 2012 / Ben Simon

2013 Mozilla Email Program Evolution

Since mid-2011, our then non-existent email program has grown by leaps and bounds.
We’ve gone from 26,000 subscribers to 580,000 subscribers, with continued growth of 5,000-10,000 subscribers per week.

We’ve raised well over $140,000 directly over our emails in that period, with more to come in 2012 as our End-of-Year campaign finishes.

And email was a key driver of excitement and growth around the Summer Code Party and the 2011 & 2012 Mozilla Festivals, as well as in our efforts against SOPA & PIPA earlier this year.

However, I think we (I) have fallen down in a couple of key areas:

–Long-term storytelling: I think there hasn’t been a great long-run narrative; I’m not sure that if you signed up for our list in, say, June of this year, you’d really have a great sense of what we’re doing. You’d know a lot about webmaker — from Summer Code Party, MozFest, etc. — but there’s an irregularity to what we’ve been sending that I think has not done a good job of keeping up a steady drumbeat/sense of a movement.

–Trying to apply an advocacy organization model to list growth and engagement: My background has been in working with groups — from Oxfam & NARAL to Obama for America — where taking a pretty classic approach to list growth (eg, petitions and sign-on letters that capitalize on specific moments and move directly into fundraising) has been the right approach.

So I want to change the focus a bit, and concentrate on more frequent, quality content that tells the story of what we’re doing. I’m envisioning roughly weekly, fairly short emails about a single thing within the broad Mozilla/Webmaker/Labs framework that provides a way for people to engage with what we’re doing. This will be in addition to semi-frequent fundraising appeals, of course, but should hopefully give people a much better sense of why they should care, and why a donation to support this work is important.

In contrast to a regular, monthly newsletter (something which has also been proposed internally) this will allow us to keep up a steadier pace and really only send something when we think there’s truly stellar content that warrants it. Regular newsletters run the risk of getting bogged down by the format and by the felt need to shoehorn content in.
Some examples of what these shorter sends could be:

–A description of a really cool event someone put on, that makes putting on an event sound cool and fun to others
–a couple of new projects get added to Webmaker
–The Webmaker gallery launches
–Valentine’s Day Lovebomb
–Something changes about Collusion
–Firefox OS takes a noteworthy leap
–Something else Product-Y that we can offer a bit of promo to
–Awesome standalone graphics (like the Mozilla in 2012 graphic that we sent this week)
–A community input pitch at a key moment

I’m excited to see how it does! I’ll also hold a control group out of this increased volume for a couple of months, to make sure it’s actually helping.

So, as long as you don’t wind up in the control group, look forward to hearing a bit more from us if you’re on our list next year.

And if you aren’t yet, please sign up! Just go to and enter your address in the email signup box.

One Comment

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