4 numbers you need to know after you send an e-mail newsletter

by Carl Natale on October 1, 2010

Flickr image by RambergMediaImages

Flickr image by RambergMediaImages

I know Twitter and Facebook drive a lot of traffic to websites – especially news sites. But e-mail still rocks as a traffic driver.

Don’t believe me. Try it for yourself. See how much your traffic increases. But how are you going to tell if it works?

First, you need something like Google Analytics to figure out if your website traffic goes up.

Second, you need to get some numbers from your e-mail newsletters. Which is why I think this tip is the most important in a great post about e-mail marketing:

Measurement: Clearly, why spend lots of time designing and implementing an email marketing campaign if you’re not going to take the time to measure its success. Test, test, and test some more to find the right mix of messages, call to action and design that hits on all cylinders.

via 12 Email Marketing Tips For Small Business | Understanding Marketing.

Nothing else matter unless you can see what your audience is doing. E-mail campaign stats are all about behavior. Here are the numbers you want to find out:

  1. Subscribers: How many people ask to get your e-mail? This is good to know but not the most important. Subscribing to your e-mail newsletters is easy (or it should be). What you need to look for is to see when you get new subscribers and see if that correlates to something you did – such as get a guest post published in a blog or speak at an event.
  2. Open rate: How many of your e-mails are being opened? Like I said, subscribing is easy. But how many people (or percentage of subscribers) actually open your e-mail to see your content? Opinions vary on what’s a good open rate. But if it is less than 10 percent you may want to work on improving your open rate as opposed to increasing subscribers. Hint: Working on your subject lines is a good way to improve this metric.
  3. Timeline: When do they open your e-mails? Knowing this is a good way to improve your open rate. If subscribers are opening their e-mails right after it goes out, that’s good. What happens if you send it earlier in the day or a different day of the week? You need to experiment and see how the numbers change.
  4. Clickthroughs: How many people click on the links in the e-mail? It’s great that they’re opening your e-mails. But you need them to click on a link to your site. This requires some real strong analysis of your e-mail text. You may need to hire someone.

These are the minimum numbers you need to be able to see. There are a lot of services with great features. But you need to have some reporting on these four stats. And you need to be able to get those stats easily. Otherwise you never will take the time to track them.

Also, you’re going to need a little bit of help figuring out what these numbers mean and what needs improved. Of course a marketing consultant can help you. But you can find out a lot by asking people in your network. They can give you some info without betraying secrets.

There are a lot of decisions to make here. What works for you may not work for someone else. But you need to get some numbers.

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