about:Mozilla: more than just a newsletter

“The about:Mozilla newsletter reaches 70,000 people?” I asked Larissa Shapiro incredulously in March when she suggested that our team assist in reviving the dormant newsletter. Indeed, with about:Mozilla, we have the opportunity to reach the inboxes of 70,000 potential contributors, all of whom have already expressed interest in learning more about our work. Though the newsletter is several years old, the revamp focuses on contribution and community. Its renewal has been a boon for our team and helped us continue working both cross-functionally and with our contributor base.

Spreading the Mozilla mission by connecting at scale is one of next quarter’s goals, and the about:Mozilla newsletter is a unique and dynamic way for us to do so. The about:Mozilla newsletter brings us back to our roots: We are seeking out the best in contribution activities and delighting a large community of motivated, excited people who love our products, projects and mission. As our Recognition Working Group asserts: “People contribute to Mozilla because they believe in our message.” The newsletter brings that message to new contributors and reminds casual contributors what they can do for Mozilla.

Reinvigorating the newsletter was a high priority for the Community Building team in Q2 and its success and consistency speaks to the continued collaboration between Community Building and Engagement to create a fantastic, contributor-led newsletter. We’ve released four newsletters since May, and found that with each issue we continue to find our voice, empower new contributions, and seek out relevant, highly engaged channels for new contributors to get involved at scale. The newsletter team, which consists of myself, Jan Bambach, Brian King, Jessilyn Davis, and Larissa Shapiro, seek to provide readers the best opportunities to volunteer across Mozilla.

The easy, digestible, and fun opportunities in the newsletter have been identified by a variety of teams, and every week we present more chances to connect. We’ve given contributors the tools to contribute in a variety of functional areas, from Maker Party to Security to Marketplace to Coding. We have yet to be sure of our return on investment: the newsletter is new and our tracking system is still limited in terms of how we identify new contributions across the organization, but we are excited to see this continue to scale in Q3. We hope to become a staple in the inboxes of contributors and potential contributors around the world.

Our click rates are stable and at industry average with approximately 25% of subscribers opening the newsletter, and our bounce rate is very low. We are working together to improve the quality and click rate for our community news and updates as well as featuring a diverse set of Mozilla contributors from a variety of different contribution areas. Though our current click rate is at 3%, we’re fighting for at least 6% and the numbers have been getting incrementally better.

Identifying bite-sized contribution activities across the organization continues to be a struggle from week to week. We keep our ears open for new opportunities, but would like more teams to submit through our channels in order to identify diverse opportunities. Though we put out a call for submissions at the bi-monthly Grow meeting, we find it difficult to track down teams with opportunities to engage new Mozillians. Submissions remain low despite repeated reminders and outreach.

My favorite part of the newsletter is definitely our “Featured Contributor” section. We’ve featured people from four countries (the United States, China, India, and the Phillipines,) and told their varied and inspirational stories. People are excited to be featured in the newsletter, and we are already getting thank you emails and reposts about this initiative. Thank you also to all the contributors who have volunteered to be interviewed!

I’d like to encourage all Mozillians to help, and here are some easy things that you can do to help us connect at scale:

Here is what I would like to see in the next quarter:

  • I’d like to see our click rate increase to 8%. I’ve been reading a lot about online newsletters, and we have email experts like Jessilyn Davis on our team, so I think that this can be done.

  • The name about:Mozilla is no longer descriptive, and we would like to discuss a name change to about:Community by the end of the year.

  • I will set up a system for teams to provide feedback on whether or not the newsletter brought in new contributors. Certain teams have done this well: the MoFo Net Neutrality petition from last week contained analytics that tracked if the signature came from the newsletter. (Security-minded folks: I can say honestly that it tracked nothing else!)

  • I would like to see the newsletter and other forms of Engagement become a pathway for new contributors. This newsletter cannot happen without the incredible work of Jan Bambach, a motivated and long-time volunteer from Germany, but I’d love to see others getting involved too. We have a link at the bottom of the page that encourages people to Get Involved, but I think we can do more. The newsletter provides a pathway that can help contributors practice writing for the web, learn about news and marketing cycles, and also learn to code in html. A few more hands would provide a variety of voices.

  • I will continue to reach out to a variety of teams in new and creative ways to encourage diverse submissions and opportunities. The form seems to be underutilized, and there are definitely other ways to do outreach to teams across the organization.
  • Eventually, I’d love to see the newsletter translated into other languages besides English!

While the newsletter is only a part of what we do, it has become a symbol for me of how a small group of motivated people can reboot a project to provide consistent quality to an increasingly large supporter base. The about:Mozilla newsletter is not only a success for the Community Building Team, it’s a success for the whole organization because it helps us get the word out about our wonderful work.

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3 thoughts on “about:Mozilla: more than just a newsletter

  1. If you are thinking about a name change, please make sure that “Mozilla” is still contained in the email subject that people see as otherwise they may not connect to it any more and delete it before opening it.

  2. Pingback: A new look for our Community Newsletter | about:community

  3. Pingback: A new look for our Community Newsletter | jennie rose halperin

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