In the Beginning…
On a trip to Israel in the summer of 2015 I decided that wanted to provide Americans (and other English speakers) with a way to stay informed about Israel current events in a simple and easy to read manner. I used TheSkimm as a model. Most people don’t have the time to read through entire news articles — especially from multiple sources. So summarizing the news in an easy to read and concise format is appealing to these readers.
Before embarking on this project I decided to create a process that I could maintain and scale.
Pieces of the Puzzle
I compiled a list of Israel news sources, English and Hebrew, that I would use as my sources. I would need to read stories and decide which ones should be included in the email. I didn’t want more than 5 or 6 tops, so as not to make the email too long. Then I would summarize the selected stories, with a link to the source for further reading. And create a 2 word title for each story. Then I’d edit the copy.
I built a website – www.israelam.com. The focus of the homepage is the email subscribe form, with a couple of lines explaining what Israelam is, followed by social proof — which I added later, once I had some proof.
The website also contains a way of displaying the day’s current issue as well as an archive of all past issues.
I then created an html email template that would work for both desktop and mobile. I used a Mailchimp template to accomplish this quickly.
Even though I started the email with only about 100 personal contacts, I knew that it would grow to thousands, so I wanted to start off with a scalable solution. The easy choice would have been Mailchimp, but sending thousands of email every day would have gotten expensive — and I wanted to keep this project as low budget as possible.
After doing some research I found Sendy.co, which is an interface that works with Amazon SES. using Amazon, sending tens of thousands of emails is just a fraction of the cost of what Mailchimp or other popular email service charge. So I purchased is for around $150 and got it set up and running.
While the driving force behind launching IsraelAM was the desire to help people stay informed about, and connected to, Israel, I did consider the possibility of being able to monetize a large, targeted list in the future.
After around a year of publishing IsraelAM I decided to make it into a 501c3 not for profit. One of the reasons for doing this was that people were interested in supporting my mission and I wanted to provide them with the ability of getting a tax deduction for their contributions.
Another reason was to take advantage of Google’s Non Profit Grants, which give organizations up to $10k in free adwords advertising each month. I knew that I could use that advertising to get new subscribers. As a result of using the adwords grant, I’ve been able to acquire thousands of new subscribers.
I currently send over 100,000 emails to subscribers each month. After 3 years of practice I’ve gotten my system of generated the content down from around 5 hours to around 1.5 hours per issue — including editing and formatting and mailing.
I recently introduced quizzes, to raving reviews. I also ran a podcast, based on the email, for a few months, but decided to focus exclusively on the email. I’m also in the process of forming strategic partnerships with large Israel related organizations.
- Market Research
- Strategic Planning
- Content Creation
- Email Marketing
- Strategic Partnerships