Improving the Efficiency of Your Web Marketing Newsletter - dummies

Improving the Efficiency of Your Web Marketing Newsletter

By Jan Zimmerman

The more targeted your web marketing newsletter and its audience, the more likely it will be successful. Before creating and distributing an issue of your newsletter, define its objective and its target audience. Is it to make sales? If so, which segment of your customer base is interested in the products you display?

The following illustration shows a product-driven newsletter from Daily Grommet, a consumer-driven online marketplace that sends a short, graphically enticing newsletter to its subscribers every day as a way to focus attention on a new find. Note the Follow Us icons for Facebook and Twitter and for sharing by e-mail.

[Credit: Courtesy of]
Credit: Courtesy of

If you’re moving a prospect along the sales cycle, for example, provide the information customers need next to make a purchasing decision. Or, if you’re trying to recover customers you haven’t heard from in a while, provide an offer that will bring them back.

Another consideration is whether you eventually want to accept advertising or paid sponsorships for your newsletter. This decision affects your newsletter design and implementation.

Analyzing statistics related to your newsletter objective is just as important as analyzing statistics on your website. If the purpose of your newsletter is branding, track growth in the number of subscribers. If your purpose is sales, measure the sales conversion rate and profitability.

A few terms of the trade define what success means. A good newsletter service provides the following statistics: bounce rate, open rate, unsubscribe rate, click-through rate, and A/B testing. Read on for more information about measuring your newsletter’s success.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of addresses that can’t be delivered for various reasons. Most services provide a breakdown. Review the list of bounces for typos and poorly formatted e-mail addresses.

Some list management services do this automatically before sending, and others test all addresses with a signal to confirm that addresses are valid (a process called pinging) before sending an e-mail. Obviously, the lower the bounce rate, the better.

Open rate

[Credit: Source: MailerMailer®]
Credit: Source: MailerMailer®

Unsubscribe rate

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 now requires an option to unsubscribe with a single action in all e-mail newsletters. People usually click a link to unsubscribe. Everyone on your list should already have opted in, either online or offline.

Strive for a low unsubscribe rate. To reduce this rate, segment your list by interest area or incorporate a double opt-in process (subscribers receive an e-mail asking them to confirm their registration by clicking a link; only then are they added to your distribution list). These practices may, however, depress your sign-up rate. Again, this rate varies widely based on the quality of your list.

Click-through rate

The click-through rate (CTR) is the number of links to your website divided by the number of opened newsletters. To reach a higher CTR, make sure you have a good match between your newsletter and your target audience, even if it means sending a different message to different segments of your list.

CTR also depends on the quality of your headline, offer, and content and the number of links you have in your newsletter. Studies show that the more links newsletters have, the higher their click-through rates.

Include at least one link for every text block and one link for every image.

Some newsletter services give you two CTR rates: total clicks and clicks from unique users. Then you can tell how many readers clicked through more than once. Whatever your specific objective, you must drive your readers to your website to complete a purchase or to find more information. Strive for a CTR as high as possible.

An intriguing report by MailerMailer, indicates that smaller lists tend to perform better in terms of open rate but that the results vary significantly by industry. This finding indicates the value of segmenting your list by interest or purchase history after you reach approximately 2,000 names.

E-mail lists age rapidly because users often change providers or abandon addresses to avoid spam. Rented and public lists are less effective than your own. Thus, the older your address list, the higher the bounce and unsubscribe rates, and the lower the open and click-through rates.