Twitter recently acquired Revue – a service that allows you to run an email list for free. Is it any good?

For the last month, I tried it out. I migrated my list over to Revue and sent 3 of my weekly newsletters from it instead of through my typical provider Mailchimp. Here is my comprehensive review

TL;DR review

  1. It is free
  2. It is easy to use
  3. It got click-through-rates almost as high as Mailchimp’s
  4. It lacks a couple key features but you can work around that

If you are a small indie making your first game I would totally recommend using it to manage your mailing list.

However if you are a publisher with more complex marketing, maybe multiple games with different audiences, it is probably better to use a paid system like Sendy (because it is much cheaper then Mailchimp)

Why should I care about Mailing lists? They are old.

What is the ultimate reason you are spending all this time building up a community of fans of your game? At it’s core it’s so that when you finally launch your game you can send a message to that community that says “My game has launched! Go buy it <link>.” Then, supposedly they will read that message then click that link to go buy / download / play / and review your game on day 1. 

Unfortunately not all platforms are equal. If you send out your “my game is live” link on Twitter only 0.5-3% of people will click it. If you post the link on Discord you are looking at about 18-24% of people will click it. But a well maintained email list will yield you about 20-34.2% click through rate. Seriously. It can be that high. 

This simple difference in click-through rate is why I always tell indies to stop making your call of action “Follow me on Twitter.” Every time you tells someone to follow you on Twitter instead of Discord or a Mailing list you are essentially throwing away about 9 out of 10 followers because they will never click your link.

The biggest problem with email though is that it does cost money to maintain a list. Most indies don’t have money, so what are you going to do?

The answer: Twitter’s new acquisition Revue which allows you to run an email list for free. 

So how do I sign up?

I migrated my email marketing mailing list over to Revue. It was a really easy process. 

Step 1 sign up for revue

Sign in to Twitter and on the left hand column, click the More (…) button

Then click “Newsletters” (there is even a “New” Sticker next to it)

Then follow the prompts to set it up.

Step 2 add your followers

I exported my audience from Mailchimp as CSV. I then imported the CSV into Google sheets because Revue wants the imported names listed as email,firstname,lastname.

So I just moved some columns around and deleted some unneeded columns and export it from Google Sheets as a csv. 

Then from Revue you click Subscribers > Add Subscribers and clicked the button “Or select a file from your computer” and then uploaded that csv file.

If you have a larger list, Revue reviews it to make sure you are not a spammer. This “review” took less than a day. I don’t know how they know you are not a spammer but I passed and was able to email my list the very next day.

Step 3 email your list

The Review newsletter composition tool is a bit basic but I like how quick it was to put together a mailer. I recommend you keep email formatting simple anyway because too many graphics and too complex of graphic design makes your emails look over-produced and corporate. Remember we are small indies. The simple aesthetic matches our brand better. So Revue lets us keep that.

Step 4 check your stats

As I mentioned above, Twitter has horrible click through rates. (You know twitter is self-conscious of this poor performance because they hide the stat behind about 3 menus).

Here are the stats behind a recent tweet of mine discussing the results of the Steam February Festival.

Don’t fall for the “Impressions” metric. That is just Twitter trying to cover their ass. The real number is clicks. And it is low. 1308 impressions to 24 clicks is a 1.8% click through rate. WTF?

Revue on the other hand provides really clear, honest charts of how well your audience is actually engaging with your marketing. As you can see the email click through rates are much higher than Twitter.

The email version of that tweet with the 1.8% click through rate had 904 people open it and 305 of them clicked the link – or a click-through rate of 33%!

BTW, what was wrong with that first email that only got 10% click through rate? Well that email was reminding people to complete my survey if they had a game in the February Steam Festival. Not many people had a game in the festival so they didn’t click.

You can see why Twitter decided to buy an email marketing platform, people are going to figure out how bad Twitter is at getting clicks.

One other caveat about this data. Don’t expect your game marketing to get as high a click-through rate. My newsletter is business to business content which always gets more clicks. Marketing games is business to consumer and usually is about half as much traffic.

How does Revue compare to Mailchimp?

Revue is Free compared to Mailchimp which costs at least $120 / year for just 2000 subscribers.

You can’t really argue with that. But there are a few things that Revue can’t do that you get

No automations

You cant do any automation with Revue. These are emails that are automatically sent when someone signs up to your list. This is a great tool to introduce yourself to people who are just learning about you. It boosts open rates and just generally makes people like you more.

This is not a deal killer though – few indies actually use it anyway (even though they totally should).

No beta key distribution

You cant create custom fields for subscribers. When running a beta through a mailing list, it is vital to assign steam keys through Mailchimp. So if you plan on running a beta you are going to have to figure out another way to distribute keys. This is kind of a shame because “join the mailing list to join the beta” is the best carrot to get mailing list subscribers.

Open rates are not as good

Here is a table of opens / click-through rates for my last 6 newsletters. Half of this table are from Mailchimp, the other half Revue.

Email Source / DateEmail OpensClicksClick through rate
Mailchimp Jan 24131750838.5%
Mailchimp Feb 1130460146.0%
Mailchimp Feb 8111249544.5%
Revue Feb 108689210.5%
Revue Feb 23112059252%
Revue Mar 190430533%

As you can see the open rates for Revue are just a bit lower than Mailchimps. One of the big bragging points for Mailchimp is that gmail trusts their servers more than any other provider. Therefore Gmail is less likely to put an email sent from Mailchimp servers into spam or the promotion tab.

Revue just doesn’t have the clout that Mailchimp does. Also there is a risk that spammers will take advantage of Revue’s free price and blast out some bad content hurting their reputation and pulling down the open rates for your emails. That is why Revue does a small background check on you before you can send out emails.

Final recommendations

Revue is good. If you are a small indie without any complicated email marketing systems, I would recommend switching to it and potentially saving yourself hundreds of dollars a year.

Before Revue, email marketing was powerful but slightly expensive marketing channel. I would always worry about recommending email marketing to small indies. However, now that Revue is out and decent, go for it.

Please, use it though. When you are doing any major press / marketing push, always have a clear call to action to get people to follow you on a high-performing marketing channel such as Discord or an Email list. If your only CTA is “follow me on twitter” you are throwing away potential visibility on your launch day.

If you need help getting started with email marketing, here is my GDC talk on this very subject:

I also have a couple easy to follow guides on email marketing

Bonus content how does discord compare?

As part of this test I also tested the click through rates on my discord channel. When I sent out my email I sent an @everyone in my announcement channel.

Here is a table of opens / click-through rates for my last 6 newsletters. Half of this table are from Mailchimp, the other half Revue.

Email Source / DateEmail OpensClicksClick through rateDiscord Clicks / Server members Discord Click through rate
Mailchimp Jan 24131750838.5%??????
Mailchimp Feb 1130460146.0%197/72227.2%
Mailchimp Feb 8111249544.5%140/76418.3%
Revue Feb 108689210.5%38/7854.8%
Revue Feb 23112059252%???/838???
Revue Mar 190430533%148 / 85417.3%

Note that you can’t determine impression rate for Discord so I just list the number of server subscribers I have. A couple times I forgot to include a tracking link so that is why it is “???.”

Also note that I don’t have daily stats of the follower count so I just counted how many people joined my server every day and subtracted that from my current total (900). Some people could have left, it doesn’t tell me that, but even that over count shouldn’t have impacted the percentages too much.

Image credit: Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “How to run a mailing list without Mailchimp’s high fees.”

  1. Well, that explains how you ended up in my spam filter. Thanks for the valuable information!

  2. I suspect Discord would have better click-thru if they allowed users to reenable Email notification. You can turn this option off, and then @everyone doesn’t trigger emails. But you can’t turn it back on.

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