Later Lyris: Arrived at AWeber

This week marks the first issue sent solely to the new distribution list. After months of notice, I have shut down the Lyris-based list, even though well over half the subscribers didn’t move to the new list, hosted by industry leader AWeber.

Frankly, if they’re not paying close enough attention to have seen the 30 or so notices, then I don’t want to continue to pay to send them issues. Advertisers don’t want to pay to send them ad impressions, either.

Paying Attention

If they notice they’re not getting their issues anymore and take action to come back, I’ll welcome them, but I’d rather have a small list of people who pay attention, read, and think than a huge list of people who do none of those things, so I’m good with the smaller list.

Of course, what I’d really like is a huge list of people who will pay attention, read, and think!

Naturally, despite those 30 or so notices, I still got several “Hey! What happened?!” emails from folks when they got a “goodbye” notice from Lyris.

AWeberIt’s not that I’m not grateful for Lyris: it was the right solution for its time, when I switched there in (gasp!) 1997! They were probably the first real Email Service Provider.

But I’ve had more and more troubles with it lately, including sites blocking the mail and other problems. AWeber* has been doing a much better job at getting the issues delivered, and that’s what I need now.

A Boost

I sent out an update of what’s up to True’s advertisers, too. The response has been terrific, with several buying ads, and one doing something really cool: he’s not only buying some ad space, but says “In the meantime, I want to give a mention of your publication to my (70,000-person) list and encourage them to sign up. No charge, my gift to you.”

Why? Simply to help True rebuild, since he likes it. Now that’s telling a lot of friends! For info on advertising in True see the ad info page. The ads, of course, are what make the free edition free.

You may not have 70,000 people that you exchange mail with (and neither do I, anymore!), but every little bit helps: if you have friends you think would enjoy True, please forward an issue to them with your personal recommendation. That is the main way True grew to way more than 100,000 subscribers in the past. I hope you’ll help to spread the word, but be sure to remove your unsubscribe URL from the bottom, since if you include that and anyone clicks on it, they’ll unsubscribe you!

See this page for a variety of ways you can help True grow — and “send money” isn’t even close to the top of the list.

After looking over that list, maybe you have some good ideas about how to get True back to healthy status. Comments on this post are open below. Thanks for your input!

– – –

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23 Comments on “Later Lyris: Arrived at AWeber

  1. “some good ideas about how to get True back to healthy status”?

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to switch to HTML email with pictures and bold or italic words when needed?

    I know that back in 1997 you were proud of the tiny Kb size of your newsletter, and that was a good thing back then, but today’s issue of True has the exact same look and feel of a 1997 issue of True – can you think of anything else on the internet that hasn’t changed in 13 years?

    That is, in fact, in the works, Jim. I hate HTML email, but people like it, so I’m bowing to it — and AWeber makes it not only possible, but fairly easy. -rc

  2. Wow! What planet am I on? The great Randy switching to “real” email? I think I might just re-up on the Premium Edition.

    COOL! And thanks, I look forward to the New True.

    Plain text is real email! HTML is an add-on, and a non-standard one at that. Making it look right over a wide range of mail clients is a major challenge, which is why it’ll take a bit. But yes, it was part of the plan in my switch to AWeber, and is coming. -rc

  3. I’m with you on the HTML email Randy (I still always send plain) because I was around in the “Dark Ages” as well (and I think I subscribed then, I for sure remember being on under the list’s old name “This Just In”). Maybe we’re all old fogies for thinking the ‘net was much better back then. Or maybe I’ve just been yelling at too many kids to get off my lawn.

    Anyways, any good ideas to get True to healthy status? I’m proud to say “not a one”! Why? Because True is the best newsletter out there because of the content. If people don’t want to subscribe because of the content, that’s their own damn fault. It shouldn’t matter if you have a distribution of one or one billion, what should matter is that you consistently have a great product and you do, *that*’s what brings people in the door. (I know, it doesn’t bring you money, but you didn’t ask that. 😉 )

    Thanks, David. To be “healthy,” TRUE does need to bring enough income for me to do it. Circulation of 1 would be fine — if that reader was willing to spend a lot on a subscription! Don’t have anyone like that yet, though. So while I don’t need a billion, a million sure would be nice! -rc

  4. As a fellow hater of HTML email, please tell me there will still be a plain text option for True!

    Yes, AWeber uses MIME encoding to have both in one message. -rc

  5. Congratulations on making the move happen. Hopefully your list will pay grow back like a bush that was trimmed way down to the ground: Bigger, better, and bushier!

  6. I don’t think the non-movers are necessarily not paying attention. There WILL BE a lot of people who’ve stopped reading but haven’t bothered unsubscribing, there will be a lot of people who’ve had the mails going into the spam folder, there will be a lot of people who’ve stopped using the email account in question (and might be subscribed on another account which they do read), and unless you found a way to prevent there will be a lot of people on BOTH (and they really might be confused by the “goodbye” message).

    But those aren’t the only reasons to not have switched. For someone who has been getting the emails from Lyris week-in, week-out, with no trouble, why bother? With you having had the call for switching in every issue for months, and no ill-effects from not doing so until now, people have come to simply keep putting it off and putting it off. It’s hassle without immediate benefit to them. I’m not sure when I switched, but it was months after you first starting asking for switches, simply because I was getting the emails from Lyris without any issues.

    Finally, if you do go the HTML route, please keep it sensible. A bit of headings and formatting might be nice, but if I see a web bug in True I won’t be impressed.

    A “web bug” (for those who don’t know) is a one-pixel graphic that tracks whether the issue has been opened. It doesn’t work terribly well. -rc

  7. Something to help your keep you fans is to stay out of politics and religion. Some comments you made have offended some people. I know they will never come back.

    I don’t take sides on either topic — partisan and prejudiced people get offended because they think I do. They’re incorrect, so there’s nothing for me to change on this end. -rc

  8. It’s been a long time since I read the original notice that the list would be switching. I don’t recall the exact wording. But did you explicitly mention that you *would not* be importing your subscriber database into the new system?

    A very large fraction of the web using population is lazy beyond the power of words to express and expect to have *everything* done for them. This can even reach the point that the philosophy is built into a system and a user who does something manually can interfere with it.

    So I suspect that some subscribers may actually have been surprised on finding they needed to do something themselves but will come trickling back in the next couple of weeks.

    And it wouldn’t surprise me if there are a few who are outraged at being dropped from the list and demand to be unsubscribed immediately.

    Yes, I not only said that it was necessary to resubscribe (otherwise, why mention it?!), but also why, and made it excruciatingly clear they needed to take action to continue. While I agree that some people are dumb enough to demand to be unsubscribed once they’ve been dropped from the list, that hasn’t happened. -rc

  9. Not offending people is impossible, no matter your tactic. Not offending Christian people is even more impossible.

  10. No, no — don’t stay away from religion and politics, you’d be hobbling yourself, that’s some of the funniest stuff!

    When I see dumb stuff that criminals do that’s worthy of it, I’ll report on it. And cops. And store owners. And garbage collectors. And drivers. YES, AND POLITICIANS! Yes, and ministers and such. I don’t report “on politics” or “on religion”, I report on people — and the stupid or weird things they do. Simple as that. -rc

  11. I love This is True, because it is like talking with my friends about the strange things that happen to people around us, and since some are so far apart, we ‘chat’ via email, and this publication is like talking to them.

    I’ve recommended This is True to many people. I hope some of them have subscribed, just because i know some of them are like me, and love to hear about the strange things people do.

    Thanks for True. I will send out new reminders this week.

    Thanks for helping to spread the word, Sue. -rc

  12. When you start using HTML emails, please be sure to use the W3C HTML and CSS validators to avoid angry emails from nit-pickers like me. This would also be a good opportunity to start incorporating automatic spell-check in your publication process. In this day and age, there is simply no good excuse for skipping this step.

  13. I bought my first computer in 1995. At the time, there was a news list that had a recommended site for This is True and its URL. I have always loved reading news, but especially odd news. I was unable to keep up with my network changes and unsubscribed after the letters stopped.

    A few years later, also comes HTML. The speeds are incredible now considering it took several hours to load Netscape Navigator.which is not enough for cable. In time I saw prices come down, and the original 75 Mhz became obsolete. I guess there are major jumps every 3 or 4 years so we can all go back to get a newer model.

    The story here, for me, is that I originally subscribed to the free edition. Then switched to Premier. I never bothered to unsubscribe from the old list, so I guess I am one of those people you mention as being cut. I got the Premier edition, and thought it would be better to get the 2 years so I knew I was going to really enjoy this. A few months later, I “gifted” a best friend. I see him once or twice a week, and we always talk about the column. Randy, You have to keep up the good work you do. You leave us with thoughts and a great expectation for the following week. We thank you.

  14. I become disturbed about the number of people who are unable to tolerate controversy in our society. Honest disagreement and stating of opinions is what keeps us alive and kicking.

    This, of course, is my opinion.

  15. @Cory, Topeka – I don’t recall Christians threatening the South Park guys with death after the episode where Jesus and Santa clashed. I thought it was hysterical, as a practicing Christian.

    In any case, Randy, I agree with your choice to cut the dead weight. You gave ample opportunity and notice that it required readers to take action. I’m sure that there will be a trickle of folks in the coming weeks signing back up when they finally realize, “hey where’s my This Is True?”

    I have to admit to laziness as well. I have a number of lists that I’m on that I just delete without reading. I think part of it is that there are so many list admins that don’t actually delete you.

    This Is True is well worth the effort. I’ve been a Premium two different times, but kept on the free list between.

  16. I don’t know how big the paid list is these days, but I bet there are some, such as myself, that were still on the free list too and didn’t bother to switch to the new server. Maybe you could cross-reference to find out if you’re curious.

    Have, but not for some years, actually. At the time, more than half the Premium crowd was on the free list too. Many have said they like to see the ads, others enjoy seeing what stories I choose for the free list, etc. -rc

  17. @ Corey, Topeka – I’m a Christian and Randy’s never offended me. Christians are just as prone as anyone else to do or say stupid things, and I’ve had some good laughs (even while shaking my head in amazement) when Randy has taken Christians to task.

  18. Good move with aWeber, Randy. When you want email delivered you use aWeber. Nobody delivers better than them. I enjoy your site. Wishing you the best.

  19. 1. people who are too lazy to switch, so lazy as described “beyond what is possible to describe in words” – well, I suppose, they do not really think. To express a grin or laughter once in a while is little more than what very young children and even some animals already can do. These would be readers who do not pass on the needed thoughts to someone else. Which readers of TRUE should do, at least if they see something which is worthwhile in their eyes. This may not be each and every story, but I always find a few to think about. Then I await the free issue to see, whether this story is also free. And if so, I forward this email to a few colleagues – and ask them to subscribe.

    2. If Randy would “keep off the lawn” – of politics and christianity – he would execute nothing less than extreme self-censorship. How dreadful to see THIS as a suggestion here. And then he would not be able to send us subscribers so many things to think of. If you do not like political or christian stories, you could pass them by (after the first few words) or consider to unsubscribe.

    3. Honestly: Randy can’t do what he does much better, I think, because it is so good. But it could easily be done worse – which it shouldn’t. TRUE is where it is due to the stories and their content. So: where’s the argument to change the very ingredients of it? If you do not like or can’t stand butter, flavour, sugar – then it would be fairly difficult to produce a tasty cake.

    I repeat what I wrote to Randy lately: TRUE is great. Carry on man, carry on – you’re needed!

  20. I love checking the site for these items, even though I’ve seen them in the Premium edition. The ads that get picked for each site are amusing to me. On the comments pages, this thread has ads for christian tours of the holy lands, and several prominent ones for email marketing services (including AWeber).

    Love the product, however the delivery – and respect the choices to make the delivery more certain.

  21. I noticed the comments didn’t include much of what Randy asked for – ideas on how to grow the list again.

    Why don’t those of us who can afford all agree to give at least one gift subscription?

    And other than telling everyone I know, the only ideas I can think of consist of reusing the sleazy tactics others use to trick you into buying. I’m torn – I don’t want to contaminate True with deceptive marketing but keeping Randy in business is important to me!

    I’m a long-term thinker, and while “deception” might work in the short term, it destroys a business in the long run. Telling friends does work, and builds (rather than destroys) reputation. -rc

  22. Is the counter on this page correct? Are you still below 50k subscriptions?

    Yep, that’s true. There are a lot of other things trying to get attention online these days, but I’m still surprised by the small numbers. -rc


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