The Onion has been poking fun at our dumb world for close to 30 years now. Started by a couple wise guys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the satirical newspaper was first distributed throughout Midwestern college towns, then grew to include a website, an arts and entertainment wing called The A.V. Club, and an internet clickbait parody site called ClickHole. Although the print paper ceased publication in 2013, "America’s Finest News Source" has a number of books and a growing online presence, including its hilarious, satirical video content.
They also have email newsletters. Until about a year and a half ago, Onion Inc. Digital Manager Jordan David says those newsletters would be deployed from within their content management system. Their emails were RSS-based and populated by recency. But after a while, they began to wonder if there was better way to go about things—one with more opportunities for customization and tracking.
“Our CMS-based system didn’t allow for easy viewing of open and click-through rates, so we now keep a close eye on those,” Jordan says. “Our product and design teams definitely take advantage of how easy it is to create and house new templates within Mailchimp. It’s made it easier to develop one-offs for more highly targeted marketing emails that go out to various segments of our lists.”
The Onion has a daily and a weekly email. A.V. Club sends daily and also has a weekly television vertical. ClickHole just launched in June 2014, and only has a weekly newsletter (so far).
“The thinking behind the frequency of The Onion’s lists is based on the musings of a long-dead, ancient people whose reasoning has been lost to the sands of time,” Jordan says. “The A.V. Club has a large, dedicated following but we felt the success of their television vertical called for some specialization within our email marketing. The vertical has its own tone and community and we wanted our emails to reflect that. As for ClickHole, we wanted to launch with a weekly so that we could cherry pick the week’s best content and deliver the best product possible.”