If we were to take a look back 22 years at a little suburb of Chicago, IL we would find the roots of what would become one of the biggest email newsletter networks on the Internet.
All the way back then it was called “Shagmail”. We can thank a popular James Bond spoof film which came out that year for that. At that time email was exploding. AOL was mailing out free trial discs by the millions and the general public was just discovering the convenience and immediacy that email provided.
In the 90s, PulseTV.com was selling videos via direct response television advertising and they began collecting customer email addresses along with all of the normal contact and billing information as a matter of course. That was the original email list, and it didn’t take long to discover that people loved getting email and were very responsive to email advertising.
The next step was a no-brainer; provide content people want to read in their email and they will be more likely to open it and look at ads. Shagmail.com started with about 10 email magazines, or eZines. Titles like the clean joke list Clean Laffs, the adult joke list Laff-a-Day, the home-cooking column Daily Recipe, and Bizarre News were all written and published in-house by PulseTV staff.
As the popularity increased so did the number of titles. Shagmail was adding content as diverse as a professional wrestling review and a daily Bible verse, among many others. With a dramatically growing audience the decision was made to re-brand Shagmail with a somewhat more inclusive name; GopherCentral.
Eventually GopherCentral.com included a catalog of nearly 80 email publications with millions of unique subscribers. It was even being mention on radio and national television. But the Internet being what it is, within a few short years fatigue began to set in and the momentum began to slow, especially after the dot-com bubble collapse in the early 2000s. Despite this GopherCentral.com was still a juggernaut and had a huge presence for years to come.
These days GopherCentral.com is more of an email boutique than a superstore. The most popular publications are still there, with a core audience of fans who forward their favorite issues around to their friends and still patronize PulseTV.com. Now GopherCentral.com is starting to grow a social media presence as well. If you have never read a GopherCentral.com eZine they are all free, like they have always been, and the editors are just waiting to say hello.