The first year of the Civic Minute, by the numbers

In scanning this week’s news to get ready for the one-year anniversary edition of the Civic Minute, I was reminded of how omnipresent the year-end wrap-up article has become…and then it occurred to me that I could do one of my own! The Civic Minute, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is my weekly wrap-up email of local political news for Seattle—it’s technically also my real estate marketing newsletter, but its only job there is to remind everyone I know once a week that I sell real estate. It’s specifically designed to be useful and relevant to anyone who lives in Seattle, even if you don’t care at all about real estate.

As many of you know, I love tracking my Civic Minute metrics, and I know a lot of you like to follow along from home, too (thanks for all the help in ranking subject lines on Facebook each week). So without further ado, I present the first year of the Civic Minute, by the numbers:


I started the Civic Minute in late November of 2014 by sending it cold to a small group of about 50 beta testers. I made a lot of tweaks over the course of December of 2014 based on the input I got from that group, and once I saw how excited people were to get it every week, I decided to launch it wide the first Sunday in January. That first email went out to 1,587 people on January 4th of this year, each of whom was handpicked by me after carefully going through my database and choosing people I thought would like it.

Since then, a total of 175 people have unsubscribed (about 11%), 390 new subscribers have signed up, and I’ve added 73 more people directly. My current subscriber count is 1776…which is kind of a perfect number at which to end the first year :) One of my goals for 2016 is to get that over 2,000, though, so if you know someone you think would like the Minute, please recommend it to them!

Open rates

I spend a lot of time thinking about which subject line will give me the best open rate. My average open rate for the entire year is currently 36.8%; here are my top 10 most-opened subject lines from 2015:

  1. 50.9%, 1/4/15: Welcome to Sol’s Civic Minute! What’s happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
  2. 44.7%, 8/16/15: Little girl + crows = lawsuit; the City calls for a voluntary 10% reduction in water use; and more…
  3. 43.6%, 5/31/15: [Civic Minute] Barefoot Ted answers the mystery of those little self-propelled wheels, the City cracks down on medical marijuana, and more…
  4. 43.2%, 6/21/15: [Civic Minute] Dive-bombing crows are back–and they remember what you did last summer; the Polar Pioneer leaves town; and more…
  5. 41.7%, 1/11/15: Fun with district elections, a stink-fog explainer, and more…
  6. 41.7%, 5/3/15: [Civic Minute] A new Councilmember is born, Taylor Shellfish decides neurotoxins & oysters don’t mix, and more…
  7. 41.5%, 6/28/15: The Ancient One returns to his people, rainbow crosswalks kick off Pride weekend #LoveWins-style, and more…
  8. 40.6%, 3/29/15: [Civic Minute] 20,000 new units of affordable housing, Comcast: The Reckoning, and more…
  9. 40.3%, 3/22/15: [Civic Minute] Bertha gets a facelift, Cupcake Royale pot cookies, and more…
  10. 40.0%, 4/26/15: [Civic Minute] Rent control takes center stage, William Shatner declares war on Seattle, and more…

Article clicks

Don’t worry, the Civic Minute is in no danger of becoming clickbait any time soon—I choose the content based on what I think is most relevant, but I do pay close attention to what my readers click on in each email. My goal each week is to maximize my open rate, and knowing which articles people want to read most helps with that goal—I usually consider it a win if the most-clicked article is the same as the one that I chose for the subject line opener. Here are the top 20 most-clicked articles from 2015, along with the number of clicks that each one got:

  1. This DYI hack for an air conditioner has nearly 3M views on YouTube (139 clicks, 7/5/15)
  2. Bertha reaches daylight (116 clicks, 2/22/15)
  3. Neighbors elevate themselves to #1 on the Crow Shitlist (83 clicks, 8/16/15)
  4. The Solowheel: transportation solution or Segway sequel? (79 clicks, 5/31/15)
  5. Stuck in Seattle: The Aggravating Adventures of a Gigantic Tunnel Drill (77 clicks, 4/12/15)
  6. Linking brains: Researchers at UW say they’ve done it (67 clicks, 9/27/15)
  7. 1,000-foot-long waterslide coming to Seattle (63 clicks, 1/25/15) [KOMO has taken the source page down, so the link doesn’t work anymore]
  8.  Amazon opens ‘Community Banana Stand’ at Seattle HQ to give away free fruit (63 clicks, 12/6/15)
  9. Inside the Smith  Tower apartment (59 clicks, 4/26/15)
  10. Goodspaceguy: The definitive interview with King County’s perennial candidate (59 clicks, 11/1/15)
  11. Marijuana vending machine to debut in Seattle (57 clicks, 2/1/15) [KOMO has taken this one down, too; apparently they don’t archive their stories]
  12. We made you a present. [Seattlish’s district map] (57 clicks, 5/3/15)
  13. Don’t Be Alarmed: We’re Researching Crows (56 clicks, 10/11/15)
  14. Seattle’s first cat café finally opens doors in Wallingford (55 clicks, 12/20/15)
  15. Nine Questions for Sandi Doughton, Author of Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest (54 clicks, 7/26/15)
  16. Capitol Hill’s ‘supernatural’ pop machine stays stocked, but how? Nobody knows (54 clicks, 8/30/15)
  17. Sweet Little Mysteries: Discovering Seattle’s Hidden Orchards (54 clicks, 10/4/15)
  18. Former Queen Anne fire station 26 is on the market as a residential property (53 clicks, 3/1/15)
  19. Seattle’s Shoreline Street Ends Map & Photos (53 clicks, 7/12/15)
  20. Seattle’s old brick buildings could see huge damage in big quake (53 clicks, 8/16/15)

And there you have it! Let me know if there’s any other data you’re interested in, or if you have any suggestions for the newsletter.

Thanks for all of your support in 2015, and have a happy New Year :)

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