Email is weird. Many of us rely on email to communicate with our employers, our friends, brands, and that guy whose rich, powerful relative who will shower us with gold – after the $3,000 prison bond has been posted. With so many big, important people to keep in touch with it’s easy to become overwhelmed and want to hit the “Delete All” button. Yet many of us are signing up for more newsletters and thereby inviting even more email to our inboxes.
LaunchBit is trying to capitalize on our growing love of newsletters and has released an API to help marketers get their ads in front of emailers’ eyeballs. The company, which is planning to move to Las Vegas, has raised $960,000 from a number of investors for its newsletter marketing platform, which co-founder Elizabeth Yin says the company stumbled upon during its summer with 500 Startups.
Where many would be content with pinning a banner ad to the top of the newsletter, Yin says that customers have stopped paying attention to banners and don’t click on them in numbers high enough to mean anything. “Banner ads have been around for a really long time, but we’ve noticed in benchmarking of banner versus text, text ads have a click through rate that is ‘orders of magnitude’ higher,” she told me. Text ads are also preferred by the newsletter’s creators, who often aren’t interested in sticking a horrible image on top of their carefully curated content.
LaunchBit’s API allows marketers and newsletter creators to monetize via those text ads. The company initially struggled with the platform’s text-based system; Yin says “Text is really hard to automate. You can’t change an email after it’s been sent, and you can’t run code to change the message.” LaunchBit initially created and distributed these ads in “a very hack-y” manner while it was building its API, but the process has become much easier thanks to the company “cracking” text automation.
Yin compares LaunchBit’s API to other systems that dynamically generate email instead of making a human sit in front of the computer and personalize each message. “Every day each of your users gets a different email, and the way you make that email is through code,” she says. “You dynamically assemble the email before it gets sent.” Essentially the company has moved the Google Analytics model of changing the ads shown when new users come in from the end of the process – the moment a user visits – to the beginning, when the content is being created and sent.
As a reader, I would almost definitely prefer a text-based ad than a banner ad. LaunchBit is helping email marketers shift between the two mediums. If the model works long-term, and Yin has bet her company on the fact that it will, and even just a few horrible banner ads are removed from a handful of newsletters, our inboxes may become just a little bit less depressing.