Launching the Visualising Data newsletter


Visualising Data


Email Marketing

"Jane did more than just support me in this process of setting up a newsletter; she expertly led me through a complete evaluation of my marketing and business strategy. As a long-time freelancer, you develop the mindset of always doing everything yourself. It wasn’t until Jane challenged me to think differently and guided me through a structured methodology with exercises that illuminated my understanding of my brand, my proposition, my services and my customers. The newsletter is one part of this and now underway with the first issue reaching nearly 1000 early subscribers. It has been thankfully well-received and is just the first manifestation of the benefits I feel Jane’s expertise will bring me."

- Andy Kirk, Managing Director at Visualising Data Ltd

Project Overview

A high-level overview of challenges identified and solutions crafted

Client overview

Meet Andy from Visualising Data

Widely regarded as one of the leading educational pillars within the data visualization (data viz) community, Andy Kirk has been advocating for data viz excellence since 2009. Through his training programs and consultancy, he has served clients worldwide such as Apple, S&P Global, Google, Pfizer, and EU Council. As an avid educator, Andy has published books, hosted ‘ Explore Explain ’ video and podcast series interviewing data viz experts, and regularly publishes on his blog on best practices and resources.

I first discovered Andy through his “ Best of ” series featuring the latest data viz created each month. It has been a source of inspiration of work that's worth checking out. After 12 years of running this series, Andy made the difficult decision to discontinue it . Throughout the years, Andy has struggled to find the time to curate the news as the field continued to grow. However, this wasn't enough of a push for him to discontinue it. In his words, what 'hit the nail in the coffin', was a drop in his Twitter engagement, which was one of his main sources of traffic to his website for many years. This led him to begin exploring email marketing as a new channel to drive traffic.

Solution Overview

Launching a newsletter for a data viz trainer and consultant

Andy is the ideal candidate for email marketing; not only is he an experienced writer, he also has built a strong following over the years with consistent content published on his blog and podcast series.

Our solution consists of:

  • Select an Email Service Provider that meets his needs
  • Identifying his main value proposition to deliver a consistent message reflecting his brand
  • Creating email assets that act as touchpoints to encourage email sign-ups and engagement


Launching Andy's newsletter in three phases

1. Selecting an Email Service Provider

Our first course of action is to select an Email Service Provider (ESP), which is used to send email campaigns. Examples include Mailchimp, AWeber, Substack, and so on. TL;DR: we picked ConvertKit.

Here are the key features I looked for in my ESP research:

  • Segmentation: Based on the data you collect about your audience, you can send messages that matter the most to them so they remain as an engaged subscriber.
  • Automation: How easy is it to send a welcome email or trigger an email sequence if someone purchases a product?
  • Growth-friendly plans: Some ESPs cap price plans based on a set number of subscribers, while others offer gradual increases in price as the list grows.
  • Analytics: All ESPs provide analytics, but there are varying degrees of reporting available, from the basics such as open rates to advanced such as acquisition.

Andy works independently so he needs a simple tool to share his content and promote his services.

  • Beehiv was eliminated because it’s priced for larger organizations.
  • Buttondown was a strong contender but the automation features was only available in the Professional plan, which is $75/mo for 10,000 subscribers.
  • Substack isn’t designed to sell products or services; it’s a publication platform. Although it is free to use and offers a simple UI, it cannot segment an email list to personalize messages.

This then leaves us with Mailchimp and ConvertKit. Mailchimp is excellent if looking to get started with a $0 budget. It offers all the right features to get a newsletter going. But, ConvertKit offers more more value for money as the list grows. For 5,000 subscribers, ConvertKit offers unlimited email sends and automation at $66/mo. Mailchimp includes 50,000 email sends and up to 4 journey points at $75/mo.

So we finally settled with ConvertKit’s Creator plan.

2. Brand positioning and messaging

It’s extremely tempting to dive into writing the newsletter, but we have to first understand how we will talk and promote the newsletter before we start asking for sign-ups.

A brand heart exercise is very helpful to materialize what we think we know about our brand. Of all the various branding templates I’ve come across, this one by David C. Baker is the most useful and simplest of them all:

Here is what we came up for Visualising Data:

  • Vision: Data viz excellence everywhere
  • Mission: To offer valuable services that inform, educate, and apply data visualisation expertise to the benefit as many people as possible
  • Purpose: To inform, inspire, and educate the world about data visualisation
  • Values: Honesty, community-minded, authenticity, leadership

💡 Tip: The vision is usually the hardest one to develop; one tactic to pin it down is to keep asking ‘why’. We started with the vision as ‘elevating data visualisation capabilities’ and when prompted on its importance, it was to instill data viz excellence.

What’s particularly useful about this exercise is it forms the beginning of messaging. For example, the vision was used as the main tagline for Visualising Data at the top of the home page. It succinctly delivers the value Visualising Data brings not just to data viz practitioners, but to the everyone else. Imagine if all the data viz created clearly communicated its message, it would benefit everyone who relies on the data to make informed decisions.

Visualising Data home page

3. Elements of a newsletter

There's a lot more to designing a newsletter than signing up for an ESP; we also have to consider touchpoints that help build a relationship with the subscriber.

  • Landing page: A page you can share for people to subscribe. These are very helpful because you can easily link to them in your emails or social media posts. Check out the landing page .

visualising data sign-up form landing page

  • Sign up form embed: When someone visits your website, you can capture anyone who is interested in your content and get permission to send them more to their inbox

  • Confirmation email: When someone signs up, they will receive an email to confirm their subscription. This is called double opt-in and is considered best practice for email deliverability.

  • Welcome email: This is a non-negotiable component all newsletters must have. If someone subscribes and the first email they get from you is two weeks later, they will forget who you are and why they subscribed in the first place. So, the best thing to do is automatically send them a warm welcome after they confirm their subscription.

  • GDPR + Privacy Policy: Although this is the boring side of email, it’s critical to integrate. To be compliant, we’ve created a mandatory checkbox in the embed form and updated the privacy policy page covering how subscribers’ data will be collected, used, and stored.

Within a few weeks of Andy's soft launch of his newsletter, he has gained several hundreds of subscribers. It's important to note that he has already put in the hard work of building an audience by publishing consistent content over the years. So don't forget to think about what value you will deliver to your audience and you'll be on your way to growing an engaged list of email subscribers.


Work with Jane

Hey, my name is Jane, and I want to help you build genuine relationships with your audience through email marketing. I started my career working in social media and eventually discovered that email marketing consistently had the highest engagement and conversion rates. So I switched my focus to email and I'm now on a mission to show organizations and creators what they can achieve with good old email.

Reach out to me to define your email strategy and refine your brand positioning to deliver the most effective messaging to your audience.

Work with me