News article

7 ways to check if your newsletters are performing

Newsletters are ideal for:

  • Sharing and demonstrating knowledge
  • Adding value
  • Touching people with your brand

Naturally, they must be interesting, relevant and consistent, both in their quality and the frequency that they are sent.

In our view, too many advisers and planners are too quick to dismiss the benefits of newsletters. Believing common myths and misconceptions, rather than taking an evidence-led approach. There’s no doubt though that newsletters can be time-consuming to produce. For each edition you need to:

  • Agree on the topics you will cover
  • Write the articles
  • Produce the newsletter
  • Send it
  • Analyse the data

Doing this month in, month out, (that’s the frequency which we believe newsletters should be sent) is tough. That’s why so many firms struggle to produce newsletters on a regular basis. Shameless plug alert! One option is to outsource your newsletter production. If you’d like to know more about outsourcing your content and newsletters to us, please click here.

The pressures on their time is also why we rarely see financial advisers or planners analyse the engagement levels their newsletter receives. So, if you’re wondering whether the time and money you invest in producing newsletters is worth it, read on.

Before we get to that though

You can only review these seven things if you:

  1. Use a bulk email system such as MailChimp or Dotdigital (our preferred choice) to send your newsletters. If you’re sending newsletters by Outlook, then please stop. It’s time-consuming, and you get no management information
  2. Don’t send your newsletter as a PDF. Too many firms send their newsletter via email as a PDF. Again, if you’re guilty of that, please stop. PDFs are hard to read on mobiles, you can’t track which articles were read and they are more likely to get caught by spam filters

So, with that said, let’s move on to the six metrics you should check.

1. Bounced emails (Average bounce rate: 10.13%* / 1.30%**)

Bounced emails are those which never reached the intended recipient.

There are two types of bounce; hard and soft. Hard bounces are permanent, often because the email address no longer exists. Soft bounces are generally temporary, perhaps because of the size of the email or their inbox is full.

A high bounce rate, especially if a large proportion are hard bounces, indicates that your database isn’t up to date. We recommend checking the bounces for each edition of your newsletter and contacting the hard bounces to update your records.

2. Open rate (Average open rate: 14.65%* / 18.23%**)

The first battle is to get the recipient to open your newsletter.

Your open rate is dependent on several factors:

  • Getting past the spam filter and into someone’s inbox
  • The make-up of your database. For example, the larger the proportion of your email list which is made up of engaged clients, the higher your open rate should be
  • The person it’s being sent from. We are more likely to open an email if we recognise the sender
  • The subject line, generally, the more enticing and eye-catching the better. Although there’s a special place in hell reserved for the marketing agency who once sent me an email with the subject line: “Your website is down!”
  • Personalisation. We are more likely to open emails with our name in the subject line

3. Click through rates (Average: 6.53%* / 2.72%**)

There’s an obvious benefit in simply touching the recipient of the newsletter with your brand. However, the clue is in the title; we want to deliver news. We, therefore, need to get the recipient to read the articles.

That’s why measuring the click-through rate is important.

As an aside, this shouldn’t be confused with click to open rate, which is the proportion of people who opened your newsletter and then clicked a link.

4. Unsubscribes (Average unsubscribe rate: 0.02%* / 0.16%**)

Recipients who are extremely dissatisfied with your newsletter’s content, or that they received it in the first place, might register their unhappiness by unsubscribing.

In our experience, unsubscribe rates for the newsletters of financial advisers and planners are very low. In many ways, that disproves the myth that monthly newsletters are too frequent. We also need to remember that there are many reasons, other than simply being unhappy, for unsubscribing from a newsletter, someone might:

  • Be changing email accounts and want the newsletter sent to a different address
  • Have left the job the email address is associated with
  • Get news from you via your social media feed and don’t want to ‘double up’
  • Have made a mistake and unsubscribed in error

5. ISP complainants (Average rate: <0.00%**)

If someone believes the email you have sent them is ‘spam’ they may report it as such.

If enough people take this option, it’ll have a negative effect on your domain’s reputation and will mean more of your newsletters are caught by spam filters.

Fortunately, it’ll be extremely rare for the recipient of your newsletter to mark it as ‘spam’. Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the odd occasions where it happens.

6. The type of articles clicked

Understanding the most popular topics will help you build more engaging newsletters in the future.

Your email system will show you the number of clicks for each article. By looking back and categorising the articles you’ve included you will be able to understand which are the most popular topics.

You can then write more about these, and less of the content which receives lower levels of engagement.

7. Time on the page

Ideally, each article in your newsletter should have a headline, preview text (explaining more about the article) an image and a click to read button taking the visitor to your website. Naturally, we want those who click to get value from the article. You can measure that by monitoring the time spent reading it.

The longer someone spends, the more engaged they are.

To understand this for each article head to Google Analytics and look at Behaviour > Overview. If an article which takes you five minutes to read has a similar average time spent on the page, that’s a good sign. If it’s significantly less, it might mean there’s a problem with how the article is written or presented.

*Source: Constant Contact March 2019

**Source: Campaign Monitor 2019

Next steps

Next week we’ll provide our top tips for improving your results in each of the seven areas. In the meantime, take a look at how your newsletters compare.

Finally, if you’re not producing newsletters or unsure how yours are performing, we are here to help. If you’re using PDFs, again we are here to help, only once you’ve come off the naughty step though!

We offer a variety of packages to help firms communicate more regularly with their clients, prospects and professional connections. You can find more about these by clicking here.

If you’d like to know more, please call me on 0115 8965 300 or email

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