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Client Matters: 6 Tips to a Better eNewsletter
By: Eric Jacobson, Vice President Media Development
Like many nonprofits using electronic newsletters to communicate you are likely wondering how to use the data you collect to improve your audience engagement. The technology of an online newsletter provides the advantage of data you were never able to collect with a print newsletter. The disadvantage of that much data is the overwhelming nature of interpreting all of it. To help you navigate this sea of information here are six important enewsletter data points to track.
1. Date Sent - Date your enewsletter deployed.
2. Sent - Number of enewsletters deployed.
3. Number Delivered - Number of enewsletters successfully delivered.
4. Delivery Rate - % of delivered versus sent. Your goal should be 90% or higher. Be sure to keep your address list clean and delete any bad addresses.
5. Total Open - Number of enewsletters opened. This includes those who use a preview pane in their email program but who might not have actually read your enewsletter.
6. Total Open Rate - % of Number Delivered versus Total Number Opened
In a perfect world everyone who receives your enewsletter would open and read it but, in reality, they won't. According to Mailermailer only 17% of enewsletters sent by nonprofits are opened as compared to over 20% for corporate business. Your inaugural enewsletter will likely have the highest open rate, because it's new. Don't be discouraged when your numbers decrease as you settle into your average percentages.
Watch your statistics over time to spot trends. If your percentages are steadily decreasing, your audience is disengaging. Change up your content in order to grab their attention.
Another couple of stats that you may want to keep track of over time to help you learn about your audience are;
Forwards - addresses of those to whom a copy of your enewsletter was forwarded by someone on your distribution list.
Opt-Outs - addresses of those who have asked to no longer receive your enewsletter.
Total Clicks and Click Thru Rate - these tell you how many recipients clicked on articles, photos, links, polls or ads within your enewsetter.
Clicks, forwards and opt-outs are all indications of audience engagement, or lack there of so the more clicks, forwards and the less opt-outs the better. Obviously the goal is to have an enewsletter that is opened, read, clicked on and forwarded. To make sure it is follow these six rules of enewsletter engagement:
1. Make your subject line clever and on-point
2. Make articles compelling and relevant
3. Tell stories from the viewpoint of your volunteers, members and donors
4. Include images
5. Incorporate urgency and curiosity
6. Include interactive elements, like polls
Lastly, don't give up because your statistics are low. It is very likely your electronic version is doing better than your print version did, you just had no way of tracking your audience interest in the printed version. At least with an electronic version you have the knowledge to help you make the necessary content changes to make your enewsletter a success. And you have the advantage of using social media to promote and share your content to increase your reach and spread the word about your nonprofit mission, goals and needs.
How do you use your enewsletter metrics to increase the success rate of your communication programs?