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Understanding your newsletter reports: The 6 key metrics broken down

If you’re on one of our Yardstick Membership packages, you’ll know that Rebecca used to manually send your newsletter management information (MI).

Now that we’ve grown, we decided to add this functionality to our very own Client Portal, which I’m sure you’ve all seen or at least heard of by now! The portal will make accessing your reports easier, more secure and allow you to view historical data all in one place. And it will give Rebecca a break (sort of…)

What’s the point of this blog? Well, you might not know what to do with your reports, or what even you’re looking at. So, read on to find out about the key things your report shows, what exactly a “soft bounce” is and whether you need to do anything with the information.

Let’s dive in.

1. Open rate

Your open rate measures the proportion of people who opened the newsletter, and it can give you a good idea of how your campaigns are performing.

Average open rates can vary depending on the audience and differ by industry, mailing list size and various other factors. The sector average for financial services is currently 27.1%, so if you’re achieving rates higher than this, that’s fantastic.

But also note, even if your percentage is lower, that doesn’t necessarily mean your campaign performed badly.

2. Click-through rate (CTR)

This measures the total number of clicks on a newsletter link as a percentage of the number of people who received your newsletter.

We currently measure your total click-through rate (TCTR). This metric can give you a clearer picture of how much traffic your newsletter is generating through shares and repeat engagement.

Many clients will focus on the open rate and want to know how to get a high number of opens. But, as touched on in point one, having a great open rate on its own doesn’t tell you much about the effectiveness of your newsletter.

You might have hundreds of email opens, but if none of them click your links, your newsletter isn’t meeting its goal (getting your subscribers to read your blog posts or check out your latest video, for example). This is where our next metric, click to open rate, gets down to business.

The sector average is 2.4%.

3. Click to open rate (CTOR)

Unlike the click-through rate, which takes the total number of clicks as a percentage of everyone who received your newsletter, the click to open rate looks at clicks as a percentage of the number of people who opened the newsletter.

This metric avoids giving a false idea of email effectiveness by only calculating the responses of recipients who read your email. In short, CTOR doesn’t punish you for unopened emails and concentrates on the effectiveness of the actual newsletter from the impact of your mailing list, the content, design, and subject line.

CTOR allows you to see whether your newsletter created enough interest for your recipient to take action, as these clicks are only from people who actually viewed your newsletter.

The sector average is 10.1%.

4. Your top performing articles

At Yardstick, we include your top performing articles for the month. These are simply the articles that generated the most clicks.

Looking at your top performing articles is a great metric to gauge the kind of topics your audience is interested in reading about and may help you decide what to include in your next newsletter.

It’s a great idea to track this to keep your clients engaged and up to date with topical content. Maybe they prefer reading lifestyle articles over ones about mortgages, for example.

Make sure the right balance is there and you will keep your clients interested and excited for your next mail out. We’ve written about the types of content financial advisers and planners should include in their newsletter.

5. Unsubscribes

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

In our experience though, unsubscribe rates are very low for financial adviser and planner newsletters. There may also be other reasons for the unsubscribe, someone might have updated their email address, changed jobs, or unsubscribed in error.

So, do you need to do anything with those that unsubscribe? Well, that’s up to you. But we certainly recommend:

  1. Updating your records so you know the client does not want to receive newsletters from you
  2. Keeping your mailing list(s) updated regularly through our portal.

6. Hard bounce vs soft bounce

You may see bounces come up on your report, but what is a “bounce”?

There are two types:

  • A hard bounce is an email sent to contacts whose email address is permanently unreachable. This is usually because the email address is invalid or no longer in use.
  • A soft bounce is an email that wasn’t delivered due to a temporary problem. This can happen if the recipient has a full inbox or due to the mail server having an issue accepting email.

Like unsubscribes, I’d recommend keeping your records up to date with bounces. If your bounce rate is high, this might indicate your mailing list needs a bit of a spring clean. Contact any hard bounces and remove them from your list.

What next?

Now that you’re a newsletter report expert, be sure to keep an eye on your emails for your next report and, if you’ve not done so already, check out the portal, grab a cuppa and have a gander at all your previous reports.

Just remember, when you first start sending newsletters, it can take a while for statistics to stabilise, so keep this in mind.

Don’t just compare your newsletter performance to the sector average but track how yours changes over time too. It can help you see what issues and topics are most interesting to your clients.

And after all that, has CTOR still got you stumped? Or perhaps you’re not on one of our membership packages yet and would like to know more about what we can do for you?

Contact us at or call us on 0115 8965 300 and we’ll be happy to help.

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