One woman is an emergency physician making $350,000 per year in eastern Oklahoma. Another earns $55,000 as a New York City paralegal, supplementing her income as a mystery shopper and content editor. What do they have in common? Not much, except they both chronicled their spending habits in Refinery29’s Money Diaries series.

A digital media company aimed at millennial women, Refinery29 content ecompasses style, health, entertainment, news, technology and everything in between. One particularly popular feature is Money Diaries, in which young women track their spending over a week. However, Refinery29’s original newsletter format didn’t get Money Diaries a bang for its buck.

Not all the content was visible on the layout, which lacked the push to get readers on Refinery29’s website. This is a missed opportunity for ad-driven publications, one Sailthru helped Refinery29 address… and increase its active and engaged user base by 86% in the process.

Refinery29 Adopts Sailthru’s Testing Culture

Sailthru’s Strategy & Optimization team recommends best practices and continually measures customers’ email performance against their internal benchmarking tool that quantifies the millions of emails we send every minute. What’s more, they all have publishing backgrounds, given them another layer of expertise for Refinery29.

Their first bit of advice to every client? Test everything. Testing new template designs and subject lines, while also utilizing Sailthru’s data feed capabilities, Refinery29 took their weekly email sends to the next level with personalization and automation. The automation enabled the publisher’s team to scale beyond their small size and create efficiencies.

At the same time, our Recommendation Manager helped them strike the perfect balance between artificial intelligence and editorial control. Marketers and editors have the ability to manually pin certain stories in certain positions, while our sophisticated algorithms take care of the rest, recommending the most relevant content for each reader. What’s more, customers can also personalize subject lines and send times based on historic engagement, ensuring that each email has the best chance to cut through the clutter.

Together, these strategies — along with our internal teams dedicated to customer success, which includes a dedicated support engineer — were a catalyst in Refinery29 increasing its engaged audience by 86% over the last year.

Ten Years Together

Another resource Sailthru offers customers is a deliverability team that monitors their sends to ensure the best balance of promotion and high quality customer experience. The team noticed a dip in open rates on Refinery29’s Everywhere newsletter, the bread and butter of their email marketing program.


Combating an increase in bounce rates and inactive email addresses, Refinery29 generated new suppression lists for the newsletter. This proactive strategy serves to give disengaged readers a break, ultimately keeping them from opting out. Suppressing Hotmail accounts in particular, Refinery29 saw a 2% increase in Everywhere’s median open rates over the next few months.

“Sailthru’s team stands out with its expertise and proactive, strategic approach,” says Denise Meikle, Refinery29’s marketing manager. “They aren’t just trying to maintain our account like many other vendors; they truly help propel our business forward and feel like an extension of the Refinery29 team.”

From acquisition through retention, email programs take time to grow. Refinery29’s email evolution, the key component of the company’s brand awareness and growth, has been particularly satisfying for Sailthru to watch, as the publisher has been with us from the beginning. We started working together shortly after Sailthru was formed and back in April, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary. We look forward to achieving many more milestones together.