I’m excited to announce the launch of Tidings, a SaaS product that automatically generates perfectly-branded email newsletters for small businesses.
You might ask why a guy who’s spent virtually his entire career in local search is moving into an adjacent space. There are a few reasons.
My own experience with an email newsletter over the last year has been eye-opening.
I’ve spent a few hours each week curating Minutive. My open rate and engagement rate have been over double the industry averages according to Mailchimp and other sources. And I’d love to replicate its success for small businesses.
I see customer engagement–including through channels like email–increasing in importance as a ranking factor over the next several years.
Helping businesses increase this engagement through quality content and personalized interactions is what Tidings will focus on.
There are already, and there will be even fewer, local businesses who are able to win at organic local search.
We used to say if you’re not on page 1 of Google, you’re invisible. But Google’s increased monetization of search results, and the shrinking number of organic results on mobile and especially on voice searches, mean that in the near future if you’re not #1 you might be invisible.
Email is incredibly effective (and small businesses know it).
Unlike SEO, PPC, or even Facebook Ads, email is a digital marketing tactic that small businesses inherently know they should be doing. And the ones that are already doing it can vouch for its cost effectiveness–close to 40:1 ROI, and 40x more effective than social media.
So for all these reasons, I believe email that drives customer engagement is the lowest-cost, highest-return marketing channel for small businesses.*
*Which is the same way I felt about Local Search back in 2009 when I started my previous company, GetListed.
For many small businesses, especially VERY small businesses and sole proprietors, there’s a big gap between the potential of email and the time and expertise it takes to be successful with it. Even if you’re diligent about making time for your newsletter each week, dealing with templates and formatting is a major time-suck, and it’s even harder to come up with content your subscribers will find interesting.
How do I know this? From firsthand experience creating the last 44 issues of Minutive. Given its relative success, I’ve tried to automate my own process for generating these newsletters. The result of that automation is Tidings.
The best way to experience the product is simply to enter your Facebook Page on Tidings.com. Once you do, we automatically generate your branded template, and if we can detect that you’re a digital marketing agency from your category, we’ll also pull in top-performing recent content from around the web.
The branding is fixed, but all the text is completely customizable–the idea is to let you focus 100% on the content and let us worry about the formatting and delivery.
Tidings integrates with Mailchimp, making it easy to send to existing lists and keep capturing customer emails the exact same way you always have. We’ll be integrating with more ESPs on an ongoing basis–let us know which ones we should start with here.
The more emails you send, the smarter the algorithm will become. Eventually, we’ll automatically optimize subject lines, calls to action, and content sources, and demographically profile your top subscribers to help you land more just like them.
And, eventually, we’ll be able to do this for every category and every geography of business. We’re starting with the one I know best–digital marketing. You know, baby steps ?
Also on our near-term roadmap is integration with your social media channels and bookmarking services, so we can automatically ingest any links you share or save directly into your next newsletter. (Please let me know other features you’d like to see at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
I’m bootstrapping Tidings, but it’s far from a solo project. I couldn’t have reached this day without an insane amount of help, inspiration, and commitment from:
- Mac Martine, my ridiculously-talented lead developer. Grateful to have serendipitously connected with him on the PDX Startup Switchboard midway through 2016.
- My entire Advisory Board. Grateful to have so much brainpower and experience backing me up on this project.
- Scott Hendison, internet consultant here in Portland. Scott was my heaviest beta-tester and gave me some great insight into both feature development and reseller potential for Tidings.
- The Local U crew, also heavy beta testers.
- Todd Mintz, SEM Consigliere at 3QDigital, who helped me acquire the domain name and believed in the idea from Day One.
- My former colleagues at Moz, who taught me a ton about the SaaS industry and who, thanks to the acquisition of GetListed and the success of Moz Local, gave me the confidence to try another crazy idea.
- Minutive subscribers, whose interest in the content I’ve shared and whose replies and conversations have provided me plenty of motivation to bring Tidings to life.
I look forward to hearing any and all feedback from the Tidings community–especially any un-spotted bugs and suggestions for how to improve the product.
Thanks again to everyone for all your support!