Keeping High Earners In The Loop: Ladders Drives Content With Email

Click on, and you might think you’ve reached a job recruiting site for people in the six-figure salary range.  

You’d be only partly right. Yes, Ladders posts openings for those in the upper wage brackets. But it is also a publisher, producing over 345 million email newsletter opens and 40 million clicks for the year to date.  

Editorial content now draws the majority of traffic to the site, and "email is a significant and major contributor to the journalism product," says the founder and CEO Marc Cenedella. But as with all such success stories, it took some time to get there.

The company started 15 years ago. Cenedella, who as a senior VP at had steered the sale of that firm to Yahoo, came up with the idea ofconnecting recruiters and the upper end of the workforce. 

Along the way, Cenedella realized that high-level job seekers need information beyond postings. So Ladders now offers robust content, all geared toward helping high earners manage their careers and their lives. On Tuesday, for example, such articles appeared as “Blogging for Bitcoin goes bust or some journalists,” and “Are virtual reality and mobile apps the future of job training?”



Last year, it brought in Ryan Sager, formerly of The Wall Street Journal and Time, as editorial director. 

Ladders now sends 6 million emails a day, seven days a week, with slightly more feature-type content on the weekends. 

But there was one small issue: The company had to do a better job of leveraging automation to drive its email.

Ladders started using SendGrid’s email services three years ago, bid didn't take advantage of it right away because it had to get its own systems in order.

The results began to come in this year.  The company was sending 2.7 billion emails a year, and that total has fallen to 2.2 billion for the last 12 months. The result has been a 3% increase in the open rate to 20%. 

“We were able to make better use of AI, and do a lot more testing at scale,”Cenedella says. “It’s tough to do when you’re trying to hand-code it.”

The company tests editorial content, subject lines and time of day. “Email practices evolve over the years,” Cenedella adds. “Ten years ago, 7 a.m. was the time to send. Now it’s 8 p.m.”

There are several revenue sources. For one, Ladders sells advertising. Then it offers memberships for $120 apiece. It now has 10 million members. Members -- who now number 10 million -- get “more bells and whistles,” including information about jobs. 

Then there is the professional offering for recruiters and HR people: That costs $6,000 a year.

Email subscribers have a range of options. There are nine fields to fill out when they sign up, including “email, target salary, Zip Code, what you do, that type of stuff.” 

The company follows best practices, allowing people to opt in and opt out of various parts of the product.

GDPR? No worries. EU visitors are unable to visit — they are redirected to a competitor in Germany.

Venture backed by Matrix Partners, the firm has 100 employees worldwide. 

So what does it take to make it in the newsletter business? “A bit of AI and a bit of editorial,” Cenedella jokes. 


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