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Email newsletters: What stats do you want?

What to track , relative to email newsletters

4:52 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Today I got an unusual request from a customer. If you imagine that you had a big pile of LEGO bricks the customer would basically ask me to prepare a list of what could be done with them. The question was similar to this "what measurements can we get from email newsletters?"

I'm not going to answer that. In stead I would like to hear your opinion on something else: Relative importance of metrics.

If you send out newsletters, which metrics are the most important ones?

- number of newsletters sent?
- longevity of subscription / loyalty / # of issues read?
- failure/ bounce rate?
- readers / opened email?
- how many links clicked?
- how many clicks convert / lead to purchase?
- how quick is first response?
- longevity: how long time after sending do we see clicks?
- crosstab any of the above with demographichs?

Anything else?

And no, this isn't about spam, so keep that stuff out of the thread, please

7:44 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I can give you the only stats that matter: If your customer is starting a commerce type newsletter/ad mailing list, your profit on it will be around zero nowadays.

Few people will sign up
Few newsetters will make it thru spam filtering
Few will be read
Few people will purchase or otherwise respond.

This isn't 1999

10:44 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Oh, I'm sorry. You're totally wrong about anything but the year :)

These are subscribers by the thousands, and the senders are very respectable companies. It's not not some new venture by some garage startup.

Edit: Actually the subscriber numbers are hundreds of thousands, not thousands, and of course it's opt-in and all that stuff.

11:38 pm on Jan 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Gee, then add my name to the list. I get about 600 emails a day. Looking forward to poring over #601.
12:23 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

It think that would greatly depend on the client and the newsletter.

If the newsletter is informational and isn't selling anything then "- how many clicks convert / lead to purchase" would be irrelevant.

If the newsletter doesn't have any links then
"how many links clicked", "how many clicks convert / lead to purchase" and "longevity: how long time after sending do we see clicks" would be irrelevant.

For "readers / opened email" & "# of issues read" it is not possible to get an accurate figure anymore, unless they click links, because such things as tracking pixels will be blocked by the latest versions of some e-mail programs.

2:40 am on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Here's some important numbers to always focus on:

--The percentage who unsubscribe, tracked by each email sent. If they don't like the content, they'll either unsubscribe or stop reading. Keep each message's quality high and targetted toward the interest of the readers.

--Depending on the list, the bounce rate can be important. If a high percentage are giving you fake email addresses, you know you have a problem with the optin offer.

Beyond those two, it depends on how you structure your content -- i.e. how you plan to monetize it.

For each mailing, the most important statistic will depend on the content. And with that content you should create specific measurable goals. Each mailing should have a different goal/focus that builds on the previous one. You might want to start with loyalty building, then get them to interact somehow, then go for the sale.

As you can see, with most mailings, the most important number is up to you.

Studying old-school direct mail techniques might be very useful for your client.


6:42 pm on Jan 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Studying old-school direct mail techniques might be very useful for your client.

I got five pieces of postal mail yesterday at home and about 600 emails.

Whoever wrote long ago: "They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I began to play..." never had to worry about his creativity being filtered out.

2:36 am on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

boplicity thanks for a thoughtful answer.

jsinger it would be polite at least to shut the f*ck up. You obviously have less than nothing of value to add, so go spam some blog in stead.

Please, I want to hear what kind of stats you would think were relevant. Of course clickrates aren't relevant if there are no links... Hey, I'm not an idiot, please step up to the plate or stay out of the discussion.

The emails I am speaking about are emails to customers. The lists are are opt in, not bought. They are real. The readers actually want to read those specific emails. And there are an awful lot of readers. The senders are big household name brands, not some shady enterprise. And I know all about the tech side, so please don't tell me about that.

So, I'll try just one more time:

Regarding email newsletters, which metrics would you think were the most relevant and/or interesting ones to track?

And again: Stay on topic, or stay out. I never liked trolls much.

12:40 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I apologize for the hard words used in the previous post. It's just that whenever the subject turns to email, people tend to totally forget the subject at hand and think only in terms of spam (UCE).

That bugs me big time as I am as much against UCE as everyone else.

The client in this case happens to be a national ISP, which, if this was the USA, would be many times larger than AOL. And of course they have a very strict UCE policy. However, if you had asked for specific information from your ISP, wouldn't you read it when it came? I bet you would. So, email isn't just email, and commercial email isn't just spam.

So, back on topic. This forum is Tracking and Logging:

Surely somebody here must send out the occasional newsletter. If you do, what would you like to know about it?


1:58 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

> which metrics are the most important ones?

What is the goal/purpose of the newsletter? The answer to this will dictate which metrics should be tracked.

2:45 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

My priorities are as follows :

(1)failure/ bounce rate?
Failure/Bounce rate is very important. When I first started Newsletter campaign, bounce rate was around 50%. If you have 5,000 subscriptions and 3000 out of them recieved failure delievery then there is something wrong with your MailServer..Look into this matter.

- readers / opened email?
The title of Newsletter should be catchy..It shouldn't look like a promotional campaign in any manner. This is a very important aspect of analyzing the content quality and newsletter conversions.

- how many links clicked?
Content, Content and Only Content! Response from my Last Newsletter Campaign was not good. And when I tried to find out the missing point..I came to know that My content and nevigation of Buying Links were two main points where I went wrong. What should be the usuall practice of placing links in Newsletter.

Well, According to me buying links should be in between your main paragraph which appeals to customer most.

- how many clicks convert / lead to purchase?
Conversion Rate! This is why we are fighting for. Everyone wants Good Conversion Rate/Purchase Rate. I advice to test it atleast 5 times before sending.

I won't give many marks to the point of "longevity: how long time after sending do we see clicks? " Newsletters are situational. You should plan to earn according to situation. You can't just sit and wait for that one day when clicks conversion will improve.

Well this is my third post. Hope i m making sense.

3:20 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Great third post Evis, it made very much sense, and Welcome to WebmasterWorld :)

>> Longevity
>> goal/purpose

Longevity is primarily related to a special purpose: Surveys. When we send out invitations to surveys it is relevant to know how big a percentage will complete the survey within the first day, the first week and so on. Second, if a newsletter contains some kind of time-limited special offer (or notification of some future event) we should not set that time limit shorter than the time frame in which people open and read their email.

Surveys are another form of "conversion". So, conversion is actually "desired response". Not all conversions are sales. Eg. one type of conversion could be that customer support will get a smaller amount of calls due to some situation because the customers will know in advance. Also, not all newsletters have the same purpose.

Some newsletters pitch products and/or services, some are status messages (account, bandwith, planned outages, investor briefs, whatever). Some invite to surveys, some to sales, some are informational etc. In fact these people use email for a lot of different things. Add to this that we can do surveys as well, and there's just no limit to the amount of information we could get if we wanted to.

Anyway.... what I'm after is the most interesting metrics, as a list of everything makes no sense to anyone.

These have been mentioned sofar:

  1. Bounce / failure to reach destination
  2. Loyalty / new subscriptons vs. unsubscriptions
  3. Percentage of opened emails (where possible)
  4. Which links clicked, and position of links in text
  5. Behaviour after reading, and/or after click: Conversion

And then there's some kind of yet undefined "success rate" that could be one or more of these five, but related to a specific purpose per email.

... what did I forget?

4:07 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

> status messages

Track bounce rate. Nothing else worth tracking in this context IMO.

> pitch products and/or services

Subject lines - track opens
Message/Offer - track CTR
Landing page - track conversion rate
ROI - Track revenue & costs

5:28 pm on Jan 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for recognizing my post claus.

For me, the most interesting matric for any newsletter campaign is :

"Which links clicked, and position of links in text"

This single entity can tell you how competetive you are in terms of offerrings to your customer, whether its a product, information, surveys or anything..

But at the same time your should be aware of how much time customer spending on your newsletter. His nevigational behaviour..after redirecting to any site.. what customer is doing..has he purchased something after that(in case of offerring any product or service) or he hasn't got the information that he wants and went away.

Clicks Conversions, new subscriptons, Behaviour after reading.. all these aspects comes only after customer read your content and browse through the links that you offerred in your newsletter.

Plz correct me if there is any room..

10:21 pm on Jan 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Thanks everyone for replying :)

Before I started this thread I had a suspicion that out of the several dozens of possible metrics that we could easily produce for this customer, only a handful would be really interesting.

I must say that the answers sofar fully confirm this theory. Also, it is interesting that out of these few "short list metrics", one, and possibly the most important one, seems to be what the person does after having read the email.

It's not surprising, as that was probably the only factor that I was 100% sure would make it to the short list, but from a metrics perspective it's interesting to measure actions that takes place far beyond any tech that is involved in sending out the emails in the first place. And possibly a long time after.

Also, nobody has mentioned cross-tabulation with other data that we may know, such as age, geographic region, purchase history, etc. That's rather interesting as I would imagine marketing people would love that kind of data, but perhaps that says more about the people here than it says about marketing people in general ;)


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