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 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.