Project Description

One Million Readers. Website Not Required. Morning Brew’s Austin Ried [Marketers in Capes EP.14]

My guest this week is Austin Ried, the COO and Co-Founder of Morning Brew. Morning Brew is an incredible business email newsletter that packs great information with a very unique brand voice (that’s my favorite part).

In this episode, Austin explains why Morning Brew’s go-to market strategy relied on email, how a friend attending a Facebook F8 conference gave them a huge first-to-market Instagram advantage, their internal guidance for staying on brand, and more.

When you’re done, head over here to sign up for Morning Brew.

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Episode 14 Transcript

Eytan Buchman

One million email subscribers with a website that’s just fifty words long. Yes, today you’re going to hear from the co-founder of Morning Brew, my favorite daily business email newsletter, on the one rule they use to stay on brand, first-mover advantage on digital advertising, and how focusing on one main goal creates the marketing prism for an entire business.

And yea, I almost forgot to mention – I’m Eytan Buchman and you think you’re listening to Two Minute Marketing…but – surprise – I’ve changed this podcast’s name to Marketers in Capes, for two reasons:

  • Marketers are superheroes
  • I made it under the two minute mark in just one episode. and it was a crappy one.

This podcast will continue to focus on rapid marketing insights. But it’ll do that with a shinier name. But enough about me. Here’s my guest:

Austin Rief

My name is Austin Rief, and I’m a co-founder of Morning Brew. Morning Brew is business without the bullshit. It is a daily email newsletter designed to keep people interested and engaged with the business world. Here, I am a co-founder and the COO, so I run everything from hiring to growth, to any operations the company currently needs.

Eytan Buchman

Over one million people get their business news from Morning Brew in their inbox every single morning. Why email instead of a website? Well, there’s two reasons for that. The first…

Austin Rief

we kind of lucked into it. At the time it wasn’t that much of an active choice, as much as we just didn’t have any other choices. We couldn’t create video content. We couldn’t create a podcast. We just didn’t have the means or the know how, so we decided to stick with email. It was very cheap.

Eytan Buchman

Constraints do wonders for creativity. But the second reason for choosing email is even better:

Austin Rief

It was a place where people were, and we knew very early on we wanted to meet people where they went. At the time, people weren’t really listening to so many podcasts, and video content was, like I said, expensive so the best combination was an email newsletter. We knew people our age read their email, so it made a ton of sense to launch with email.

Eytan Buchman

That may sound obvious but it’s actually really important . Knowing where and how your users consume information may be the most important marketing data point you need to know.

That drive to meet users where they were – in their email inboxes – also shaped Morning Brew’s digital strategy, centered around creating the perfect email, every single day.

Austin Rief

From day one, we knew that the only way to grow our community to a million subscribers and beyond was to simply create the highest quality content. If the content’s not unbelievable, you’re going to have a leaky bucket, and people are going to be churning out the back so from day one, it was to create ht whitest quality newsletter..

Eytan Buchman

In other words, it’s all about amazing content that’s only in email. Not, as you may have figured out, on a website.

Austin Rief

We’re not in the page view game. We’re not in the SEO game. We are simply in the create the best quality email game

Eytan Buchman

It sounds scary to a marketer but Morning Brew’s world is one without a call to action. By focusing on email as a channel, they don’t need to use emails to bring people back.

Austin Rief

If you compare us to let’s say Business Insider, high quality, great content, but BI, their goal is, at least one of their main goals is page views, and so the newsletter is not written for email. It is simple linked back to their content, that gets you to their site, and so we’re not playing that game. We are not in the game of trying to get back to our site. We’re giving the highest quality email possible. Therefore, when you open up the email, everything is designed for email. That gives us a huge advantage. That’s why our website’s so sparse. That’s why we spend so much time and attention on the email and we don’t want to compete on the website and have dozens and dozens of writers or contributors.

Eytan Buchman

And that’s why their entire page is only fifty words long. Exactly. Anyway, that focus on outstanding content is also one of the main growth drivers that they use. Because it gets people talking.

Austin Rief

The core principle behind our growth is our referral program. We’re up to about 65 to 75,000 referrals every single month, which is a huge part of our growth

Eytan Buchman

Beyond that, Instagram and advertising in other email newsletters wraps it up in a pretty little bow:

Austin Rief

our demographic of 25 to 35 year old, young business professionals are mostly on Instagram. So we do a lot of Instagram advertising. We advertise in other newsletters, because people who are in email generally read other emails

Eytan Buchman

Instagram is also where Morning Brew discovered how amazing a first-mover advantage can be.

Austin Rief

I think it’s about June, 2018, Instagram Stories was really taking off, and we had heard from someone who went to Facebook F8 that Facebook was really expanding the ad load in Instagram Stories. We had recently just hit on an Instagram post that was a conversation, it was a text message conversation, and so we combined the two and made this text message conversation Instagram swipe up ad, and for the period of about two weeks we were seeing 10 to 20 cent CPAs. We were just absolutely killing it on Instagram and Instagram Stories.

Eytan Buchman

But here’s what I want to finish with. There’s a handful of business email newsletters with really good content. What sets Morning Brew aside for me – and the reason I needed Austin on this podcast – was their brand voice.

I just enjoy reading their emails. I get a lot of emails but I still read theirs.And seeing it happen day in, day out, with consistent pizazz, made me sure that it wasn’t an accident.

I was right.

Austin Rief

In terms of Morning Brew’s voice, that is what makes us unique, since day one we’ve always been voice forward and voice focused. Making sure it’s very conversational, and so in order to make sure we all maintain that, everyone’s a very close knit, very small content team, but we have a style guide. Our Managing Editor, Neil Friman does an unbelievable job making sure the tone is there in every single issue, creating a training program for our new writers.

Eytan Buchman

If you’ve never tried to implement a style guide, trust me – it’s really, really hard. But Morning Brew has a great rule of thumb they use:

Austin Rief

And the way we think about it, it’s pretty simple. We write to you as if it’s your friend or your colleague, telling you about the most recent story, whether it’s about the Fed, or about Apple, but not telling it to you in the office in front of your boss, but instead telling it to you with your feet up on the couch, or over a beer. It’s very conversational and it’s written as if someone’s talking to you. That’s been the core tenant since we started, is very conversational, very fun business news.

Eytan Buchman

Head over to Morning Brew (or click the link in the episode description) to get in on this email goodness.

But here’s four quick takeaways to summarize this all:

  1. Consistent pizazz would be a great band name
  2. Knowing exactly who you’re writing for and where they are brings your marketing into focus
  3. Amazing content always wins.
  4. Not all marketers wear capes. But they should.

My name is Eytan Buchman, you’ve been listening to marketing in capes, I’ll see you next time.