Ryan Duffy

Newsletter strategy 


After stepping into the role of Head of Growth Marketing at Medium, I reimagined our stagnant topic-based newsletter products to improve the reader experience and increase free-to-paid conversion rates. 

The project was successful on both fronts: unsubscribe rates decreased -40% and free-to-paid conversion rates increased +50%.    

Product manager Strategy Research Editorial Design direction Design


Simply put, the original versions of our four topic-based newsletters (Business, Tech, Programming, and Health & Wellness) weren’t great. They were perfunctory lists of story links with only story titles, author names, and (mostly stock) UGC images presented to readers without any additional information, context, or unifying themes (beyond the overarching topics themselves) to pique readers’ interest.  

They weren’t must-read, they didn’t present Medium in its best possible light, and they failed to meet their potential to convert free users to paid subscribers. 

To compete in crowded inboxes, they needed to be more timely, newsworthy, informative, legible, beautiful, and (most importantly) human.  


I reminagined our topic-based newsletters from the ground up by:
  • Curating stories around the week’s biggest news for more timeliness and relevance 
  • Writing orginal editorial to provide more information and context, and improve click-through rates 
  • Redesigning the look and feel to be more legible, scannable, and elevated
  • Introducing a friendly, personal voice to enhance the connection between readers and the Medium team

I started by relaunching two of our four topic-based newsletters, Tech and Business. Health & Wellness and Programming were left unchanged and used as controls to compare peformance metrics. 

I personally curated, wrote, and designed Tech and Business weekly for an audience of millions of readers, and shipped hundreds of newsletters during my tenure. 


Unsurprisingly, our improved newsletters outperformed the controls in all key areas, namely:

  • +50% free-to-paid conversion rate
  • -40% unsubscribe rate

More importantly, Medium readers loved them! My favorite part of this project was reading their feedback, opinions, and reactions in the replies every week.

Made in Los Angeles