We spent months on this latest update, but hope you barely notice it.

As an avid user of Tidings for our own newsletters, Minutive and the Agency Insider, a number of annoyances started to turn into bigger annoyances this Spring.  Rather than continue to punt on fixing them, we decided to bite the bullet and square them away this quarter…so they wouldn’t come back to bite us later on as we added more and more customers.

None of these features is earth-shattering by any stretch, but a few customers here or there had asked for each. While I know it’s far from a SaaS best-practice to roll them all into a single update, so many ended up being related on the back end that it was difficult to release them in smaller packages.

Without any further ado, here’s what you may (not) notice next time you log in:

An easier, zippier user interface

The biggest undertaking of the bunch: we’ve swapped out our former editor entirely, in favor of Summernote, a much lighter-weight and stripped down text editor. Along with removing scripts that were no longer necessary, you should notice our newsletter builder is about 60% faster than it was prior to this release.

As part of the new editor, you can now adjust font size and text color more easily — two features that some of our customers had written in to request.

Easier editing on mobile devices

Shout out to SCORE mentor and all-around force-of-nature Celia Bell, whom I sat down with for an in-person focus group at Local U Austin in April.  Celia’s probably not our most tech-savvy customer, but she’s one of our most active, which made her a perfect guinea pig.  She showed me some obvious limitations of trying to edit her newsletter on her phone, so we made some improvements. (Celia, I hope they work for you!)

More prominence for our bookmarklets

Another thing I learned at Local U Austin (thanks Billy!) and via an informal survey is that a handful of customers didn’t know about our Chrome Extension, Firefox Add-on, and iOS App, all of which allow you to bookmark articles directly into your next newsletter.

So, we’ve made these more obvious with a call-out at the bottom of your content library to drive awareness. I know I use all three of these every single week and find them to be among the most useful features of our entire product.

Ability to add more-than-articles to your newsletter

Maybe the biggest thing you’ll notice is that you can now add images (with links), additional calls-to-action, and text blocks anywhere in your newsletter.  All three of these had been requested by multiple customers, but it took a surprisingly/disappointingly long time to get them all functioning in combination with our new editor (see above).

At any rate, you can now customize your newsletter *almost* to your heart’s content–or at least to a much greater degree than you could before. 🙂

Ability to add preview text

As a recovering SEO practitioner, I like to think of the subject line of an email as its Title Tag. If that’s the case, then preview text is like its meta description.Preview text (also known as a preheader) is the snippet that appears in many email clients either beneath or alongside the title. This excellent primer from Campaign Monitor explains a little more about it, but the TL;DR is that good preview text can increase open rates.

Whereas before we’d defaulted to including your introduction or call-to-action as your preview text, you now have complete control over what subscribers see *before* they open your newsletter.

We hope this addition helps increase your open rate even more than the 50% above industry average our customers have been rockin’ 🙂

Better rendering on substandard email clients

One of the frustrating surprises to me upon diving headfirst into email marketing a few years ago was the lack of support for many standard HTML and CSS code elements by popular email programs like Outlook. (Gmail used to lack support for many of these elements as well but has come a long way in the last two years.)

Unlike building a template for the web, there’s really no way around the fact that not every email will look the same for every customer. But we weren’t happy with the way some of our standard elements were rendering in Outlook, so we made a few small code adjustments to improve them.

New agency platform configuration

In addition to our newish agency plan (now just $77/mo for your first 7 clients, and $7/client/mo beyond that), you can now set your own price for Tidings and have us collect payments using your Stripe credentials, making it even less work to earn the kind of margins offering email marketing that our calculator hints at.

None of these feature updates is all that sexy, and with the possible exceptions of Preview Text and the additional content types, you may not even have noticed them unless you read about them here. But taken together, we hope they make it even more fun to send a newsletter using Tidings than it used to be.

Now we get to move on to more fun features over the next few months, including:

  • adding Twitter account(s) as content sources
  • the subscriber intelligence product I hinted at in my last newsletter
  • new template options
  • native integrations with additional Email Service Providers, including (we hope) Active Campaign and Campaign Monitor

In the meantime, let us know what you think of the “new” Tidings in the comments below, and if you’re not yet a customer, let us know what we could build that would win you over!

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