A newsletter seems to go against the basic tenets of good business. You must make the content worthwhile so it will have intrinsic value and here you are, giving it away free of charge. The only justification for the investment of time, effort and money is a reasonable return. So how can you prove it is worthwhile?
Measurement of the success or failure of a newsletter campaign is the easy part. All decent email marketing software will give you precise and immediate statistics on the following metrics, largely accepted as the way of measuring the success of a newsletter. These are the five most basic:
The open rate
- This is only possible with emails produced in HTML.
- The norm is for newsletters to have a considerably higher open rate than direct marketing emails so do not get carried away when you read the first returns. If the figures show a steady and consistent increase from issue to issue then you know you have judged the content well. A drop off in figures, or even in the rate of increase, is an early warning of change being required.
The number of clickthroughs to promotions or other pages
A newsletter is not another name for a direct marketing email and in order not to be restricted by the various laws the selling side must be incidental to the main purpose. Clickthroughs are a way of moving customers on to your promotion.
The number of unsubscribes
An increase in the number of unsubscribes normally indicates that you missed the early warnings. It is irrefutable evidence that you are doing something wrong.
The number who become customers
Buying directly or indirectly from the newsletter promotion is what you would see as a success story. However, this is not the prime purpose of a newsletter.
The number who move on from newsletters to subscribing to your direct email marketing list
This is the ultimate figure, the sign that you have got it spot on. If recipients subscribe then they become potential customers time and again.
There are more esoteric benefits of newsletters but as these are all but impossible to measure in a cost-effective manner they can be ignored at this stage. This would include customer satisfaction, the building of a relationship and brand awareness.
The statistics give a basis for decisions on the budget for the newsletter. They will also provide motivation for those producing content. The person whose job it is to trawl the various departments for articles will be able to show that it is not all about free-loading.
Accurate and timely statistics ensure that the newsletter remains focused and does not become self indulgent. It is not an end in itself but must provide a function.
Despite the costs being much lower than for postal distribution, an email newsletter is a considerable investment so must be shown to give a sufficient return on investment. With modern email marketing software this is not only possible but easy.