How the Penny Hoarder stepped up its email game

increase of avg inboxing rate over the last year
Audience growth
additional communication streams to engage subscribers
above-industry-average open rate

Frugal Roots

The Penny Hoarder started as a small personal finance blog established in December 2010 by CEO and founder, Kyle Taylor, as a way to document his mission to whittle away at his personal debt and share his knack for finding unusual ways to make and save money. Kyle went beyond sharing tips or talking about odd jobs; he tried each method or job himself and then reported the results. His approach to making and saving money earned him an enthusiastic following and led to fast expansion. The Penny Hoarder brought in its first $100 in 2011 and quickly grew to six figures by 2013. Today, The Penny Hoarder is one of the largest personal finance websites in the world, run by a team of professionals and bringing in over $20 million in revenue in 2016.

Email Woes

Email played a large role in the course of The Penny Hoarder’s evolution. Initially, Kyle sent an email to readers every day in the form of a personal letter in a conversational style that sometimes included photos of his pet. This personal touch was very effective in expanding the blog’s readership.

But as the blog continued to grow, the personal approach to email communication and the work it entailed became unsustainable. So The Penny Hoarder switched to a templated email format that did not offer commentary and instead consisted of a roundup of a few articles that could be easily switched out each week. It was missing the unique voice and content that readers had come to expect.

To add to the challenge, The Penny Hoarder had outgrown both their approach to email and their email service provider. They were lacking real-time access to analytics; their emails often ended up in SPAM folders and they weren’t getting the level of attention and service that their email program required.

Finding the Right ESP

In 2016, The Penny Hoarder began to focus their attention on fixing their email woes. Kyle Taylor was still sending emails on behalf of the company, but in June of 2016 he hired an email-focused team to help revolutionize the publication’s approach to email and revamp their strategy.

The process began by reexamining The Penny Hoarder’s email service provider. The team knew that they wanted to develop more personalized and preference-based content, which required real-time access to analytics, behavioral data, and testing capabilities. In addition, they needed to be confident that the emails they send would end up in subscribers’ inboxes.

“We switched to Data Axle last December and haven’t looked back. We’ve seen a major improvement in transparency and service. Over the course of a few short months, Data Axle’s Inboxable solution identified and rectified the long-term inboxing problems we had been battling for years.”

Kyle Taylor, CEO and Founder, The Penny Hoarder

After an in-depth ESP vetting process, The Penny Hoarder selected Data Axle’s cross-channel communications platform. Kathleen Garvin, Editor & Marketing Strategist at the publication explains, “As a growing business we needed a partner who was able to help us grow from 4 million to 10 million emails a month as cleanly as possible, while also providing personal attention and true quality of service. Data Axle struck the perfect balance.”

For The Penny Hoarder team, the Data Axle platform and account team provided the right combination of individual attention, scalability, deliverability services, and expertise as well as strong, built-in analytics capabilities.

“I really appreciate the one-on-one support we have received from Data Axle. During the migration their team was instrumental in ensuring a smooth and seamless transition. I’ve managed a number of other platform migrations and I can confidently say that I have received the highest quality of service from Data Axle’s team.”

Colleen Rice, Email Marketing Specialist, The Penny Hoarder

Guided by Customer Insights

Like any savvy marketer, The Penny Hoarder began by learning about their readers’ interests and preferences. They incentivized subscribers to build profiles and used the in-house email marketing platform to send readers surveys that enabled the brand to better understand their audience. They also used Data Axle’s comprehensive analytics capabilities to identify the type of content that best resonates with different subscriber segments.

Building Content that Connects

Using both the user survey responses and the insights collected in the in-house email marketing platform, the Penny Hoarder team worked to create new content for their email program. “This year we accomplished something we had wanted to do for a while; we introduced a daily newsletter that is doing great for both our brand and our readers. With all the challenges we had with our previous provider, we were never confident enough to implement a daily mailing program. With all of the deliverability, segmentation, tracking and analytics problems solved by Data Axle’s platform, we can confidently continue to grow our community, said Kathleen Garvin.

The Penny Hoarder team wanted to infuse humor and personality into their daily newsletter so they enlisted the help of senior writer Dana Sitar to create a personalized voice that complimented the tone of their website.

As a result, the daily newsletter has proven to be a very successful addition to their email program, generating an open rate that is almost 50% above the industry average for publishers.

The team also launched two new newsletters to cater to the ever-expanding interests of their audience: The Penny Hoarders Jobs and The Penny Hoarder Food. These niche weekly communications have generated notable results for the brand, driving an impressive average unique click rate of 21% for The Penny Hoarder Jobs and a strong 13% unique click rate for The Penny Hoarder Food.

“Data Axle’s cross-channel communications platform and outstanding service team are a major driver of the new initiatives we have been able to implement and the success they’ve reaped. The flexibility of the in-house email marketing platform has allowed us not only to consistently analyze our digital marketing program but also improve it every step of the way. We are lucky to have found a technology partner that moves as fast as we do and enables us to realize our vision.”

Colleen Rice, Email Marketing Specialist, The Penny Hoarder

Looking Ahead

Even though The Penny Hoarder has been able to accomplish a ton in the eight short months since migrating to an in-house email marketing platform, they are not stopping now. Looking forward, the team is excited to develop additional newsletters based on the interests of their readers, perfect their reactivation program, and continue to improve their email content which drives outstanding reader engagement.

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