While the open rate of an email newsletter is unlikely to be as good as the open rate of a paper newsletter, one important advantage you get from email newsletters are the analytics that let you track what happens to your message.
- First, there’s the delivery rate, or total sent less bounces. You want this number to be high, at least 95% or more.
- Next, check the open rate, or percentage of people who open your email to read what’s inside. A reasonably good open rate is 25%.
- Among those who open your emailed newsletter, you can expect about one-third to click on a link to read a full article; this is the click-through rate. As a percentage of the emails delivered, a good click-through rate ranges from about 5-15% (in this example, it’s about 8%).
These numbers mean you can learn something about the specific interests of about 5-15% of your email list. Maybe that’s not such a poor trade-off with the better open rate of paper newsletters when you’re trying to pinpoint which products your customers or prospects are interested in. If a client is reading the voluntary benefits articles in you employee benefits newsletter, for example, it might be a good time to approach her with some voluntary benefits ideas. It’s pretty useful for a smart marketer to know this much about a specific client’s interests.
To improve your click-through rate, start by checking your bounce rate. It’s not unusual to have a bounce rate over 10%. Cleaning up bounces by getting correct email addresses will of course result in more click-throughs. Reasons for bounces include:
- Bad domains. Maybe it’s a simple typo (yehoo instead of yahoo), or the firm has changed its domain name.
- Often the recipient’s mailbox is full.
- Maybe the recipient’s server is temporarily not distributing email for some reason. This is known as a generic soft bounce; if you try re-sending these bounced messages later, deliverability should improve.
- A generic hard bounce is a little more serious and could mean you’re getting blocked. To prevent this, ask your recipients to white list your email address so your messages don’t get tagged as spam.
If you can’t resolve the problem, call the recipient if you have his phone number. If you have a mailing address, you could also send a stamped, self-addressed postcard in an envelope requesting an email address update. You may want to offer an incentive, such as enclosing a complimentary pen with your agency’s logo on it.
Even if you clean up only half of your bounces, you could add a couple of percentage points to your click-through rate.
Of course, performing routine hygiene on your list is always wise. But what about getting some outside lists to email to, especially email lists of likely buyers. That could really help, right? I’ll cover list buying in my next post.