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A recent Marketing Sherpa article about average open rates published this interesting chart.
The research was compiled based on data from nearly 1,500 marketers. The chart compares the performance of B2B email newsletters to the performance of B2C e-newsletters in open rate, clickthrough rate and conversion rate.
The open rate is usually defined as the ratio between the number of registered opens to the number of emails sent. Some email service providers, as well as some marketers, take it to the next step and count only the number of emails delivered in the ratio. (See this post on email bounce rates)
The clickthrough rate (or CTR) is usually defined as the ratio between the number of clicks to the number of emails opened. For example, if an email was opened by 100 subscribers to an ezine, and 30 of those subscribers clicked on a link, then the CTR would be 30%.
The conversion rate is usually defined as the ratio between the number of conversions to the number of clicks. A conversion can be anything, such as a sale, request for more information, additional subscription, or anything that you may ask your subscribers to do. For example, if, of those 30 subscribers that clicked on a link, 3 purchased something, then the conversion rate would be 10%. (Some marketers would say it’s 3%)
Clickthrough and conversion rates are important indicators of email newsletter performance. As newsletter publishers we should track these statistics, making sure we always apply the same metrics.
The research shows that B2C newsletters perform slightly better than B2B. How do your own results compare to these averages? Please comment and share your insights.
One of the benefits of using a dedicated email service provider (ESP) to send out your business email newsletter are the various statistics they will be able to provide to you. One of those you should pay particular attention to are
Your particular ESP may define these two slightly differently, but in essence, a bounce is an email address to which delivery of your email campaign was attempted but was unsuccessful.
Similarly the bounce rate is usually expressed as a percentage of undeliverable email addresses compared to the total number of emails in your list(s).
Hard Bounces: These are email addresses that are obsolete, expired, incorrect and will never be delivered to the intended recipient. Take a look at these as they may include obvious typos like firstname.lastname@example.org (instead of .com), which you can easily update and correct. Others are most likely expired and should be removed from your list, either manually, or, most likely, automatically by your ESP.
Soft Bounces: These are email accounts that bounce because of full mailboxes, their domain is temporarily down, or for some other technical reason they’re currently not able to receive email. Most ESPs will retry delivery to these accounts within 24-48 hours from the time of the original broadcast. Some ESPs will remove email accounts from your active list after 5 consecutive soft bounces.
General Bounces: The most common reason for this type of bounce is a firewall that prevents these accounts from receiving email from outside their network, such as in the case of corporations that block email from unknown sources. Again, most ESPs will retry delivery to these accounts.
As most ESPs will retry bounces (except for Hard Bounces) again within 24-48 hours, you don’t need to do much about them. Additionally, your ESP will suppress all hard bounces right away, and also those soft and general bounces which continue to fail.If the re-sending is successful, bounces will be cleared for future broadcasts
The only thing you need to do is to correct any typos in Hard Bounces, and make sure that the bounce rate is lower than 1%, as some ESPs may block your account if your email broadcasts continue to suffer from high bounce rates.
You may also be interested in reading these related articles:
Email List Maintenance – Keeping it Lean and Clean
Email Delivery: Resending an Email to Non-Openers
These two Email Service Providers (ESPs) are as different as they can be.
Aweber is primarily an auto-responder service, enewsletter service second. To take advantage of all its features, you really need to be familiar with some Internet technologies, such as HTML, FTP and RSS.
If your intention is to self-publish a company newsletter, then Constant Contact is a better choice (not the best choice, though, but read on). They have an extensive library of ezine templates which can be customized relatively easily. CC provides hosting space for a small number of images, and more can be purchased. Aweber does not offer image hosting, so images need to be uploaded to your web site or blog – by FTP, for example.
When sending HTML emails, such as newsletters and e-flyers, it is advisable to also send a plain text version along with it, for people who prefer to read text-only emails, or their email programs don’t support HTML, or HTML is blocked by the company firewall. If you’re using one of Constant Contact’s many templates, the system generates the TXT version for you. With Aweber you need to manually create the TXT version which can become tedious quickly. However, a tool such as Premailer can help with that, however your HTML ezine needs to be hosted on your web site for this tool to work.
Constant Contact would be a better choice if you already have an existing list of subscribers, or clients, which you can import into your account. Ideally you would import only people you know would be interested in receiving your newsletters, and have given you permission (either electronically or in person). When importing any number of contacts into an Awber account they are automatically sent a so-called “confirmation” email. This email contains a link each individual contact must click to give you permission to send them additional messages. This process can sometimes decimate your list, even ones which contain previously confirmed contacts. With Constant Contact, it’s up to you if you want to send your contacts this message, or you can confirm them “softly” over time, by including a “reminder” at the top of each email you send them. When a confirmation message is sent, you can not send your contact ANY more messages until they click on the confirmation link.
If it’s important for you to get detailed reports on opens and click-throughs, CC comes ahead of Aweber again. CC offers a very detailed report on how many people were sent an email, how many (and which ones) were opened, who click on which links, and how many times, who forwarded your email to a friend, etc. Aweber (in its basic package) offers limited reporting capabilities, to get the similar reporting to Constant Contact’s you need to upgrade your account.
If you’re looking for a system to easily create and send email newsletters and e-flyers, consider MadMimi instead of Constant Contact, as it’s much easier to use, at about half the price.
For a full-featured, yet easy to use auto-responder and newsletter publishing system I know use and recommend iContact.
I know statistics can be a royal bore, but there’s this one piece of statistical information you really should pay attention to — your email campaign bounce rates.
Regardless of which Email Service Provider (ESP) you’re using, you should be able to see bounces. Ideally, you’d like to see them at zero, but realistically, if you try to keep them to a minimum, say 1-2%, you should be OK. If you are 5% or more, and your list is in the thousands and/or you send emails frequently, you may be digging a hole for your email campaigns.
You may think this is not a big deal, but it actually is very much so. Big ISPs such as Yahoo, AOL, Sympatico may label you as a spammer if you repeatedly try sending emails to non-existing (expired, mistyped, etc) addresses. This is because it may appear to them as a typical spammer practice of “dictionary attacks”.
Those bounced email addresses are “dead meat” and should be removed promptly. Sometimes your ESP may give you false positives, so generally you don’t want to remove an address the first time it bounces, but after the second or third time it’s probably safe to assume the address is no longer active and should be removed, or at least moved to a separate list.
If you normally send HTML emails, you may want to try sending a text-only version to see if you can get through to some of those bounced email addresses. Simply move (or segment) all your blocked addresses to a new list then mark all of these as “text-only”. Next time you send a promotion these contacts will only receive a text-only email – this may be enough to bypass their ISP’s spam filters (some block all HTML email). If they still bounce, they are history.
If you have resources available, you can have staff or a VA go over the bounces and check for spelling errors, obvious typos (simpatico vs. sympatico, or aolcom vs. aol.com, yahoo!.com vs. yahoo.com) and other ways of identifying the errors.
If the address appears valid, and you see it belongs to an active client, you may want to contact them by conventional means (postal mail, phone, fax) to check if they’ve moved and changed email addresses. All these can be automated to some extent (e.g. voice mail broadcast).
Your email marketing list is an important business asset and should be tended to on a regular basis.
Consumers in the 18-to-34 age bracket are more likely to respond to marketing messages received by email than to advertising they see while using social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, etc. according to new research published in a white paper from Ball State University and ExactTarget.
ExactTarget, Inc. is a leading provider of on-demand email marketing software solutions. The Center for Media Design at Ball State University is a research and development facility focused on the creation, testing, and practical application of digital technologies.
Among other findings: the best time to send email newsletters is in the morning when recipients receive fewer messages, spend more time with each individual email, up to 13 minutes on average. Shorter, promotional email messages have a better chance of response in the afternoon and evening, when the time spent on emails drops down to 2 minutes or less, on average.
There’s a lot of other fascinating data available in this report which you can download for free from ExactTarget.
What is your experience? Please comment – I’m looking forward to your thoughts.
First, let’s talk about your ezine, or e-newsletter. If you intend to publish an informative ezine, do not expect much direct sales from it. Why is this?
Because the primary purpose of your newsletter is to establish your credibility, expertise and to create that relationship – we keep returning to this relationship thing all the time, don’t we? Do not think of your ezine primarily as an advertisement for your services or products.
In your ezine, you must provide useful content to your subscribers.
By all means, promote your products and services in your ezine, but do not make it the most prominent part of the newsletter. Here it should be in the background, and shouldn’t take up more than about a quarter of the space.
For example, at the bottom of the newsletter you can have a section titled “About Me”, and here you can provide a brief summary of your business, and also mention that you are the author of such-and-such book, or creator of a product. Provide a link to your site where there’s more information.
Now, the most money you’re going to make is through so-called promo-emails, or some people call them solo mailings. While your ezine may have several articles, reviews, comments, recommendations, etc., in a promo email you will concentrate on promoting just one particular thing: it could be a new product you developed, a new type of service that you offer, or something like that.
Typically, your promo emails will be much shorter than your regular ezine. In case you’re sending your ezine in HTML format you may want to experiment and send the promo emails as plain text. Be sure to split-test this.
BTW, for those who are not familiar with the term, split-testing is when you send one version of your email to a subset of your list and another, different version, to a different group of the same size. You compare the results, and from then on use the format witch produced the highest response.
These promotional emails will usually have response rates that are several times higher than a response from your ezine.
I get this kind of question a lot, and also see it posted on online forums hosted by various ESPs. The questions is: “Should I resend an email (ezine, offer, solo mailing) to my whole list or only to those that have not opened (or responded to) the original send?” Immediately following this question is: “How do I do that?”
I will leave the “Why?” for you to answer, because it will be different to different people. If you send your ezine once a week, then I’d say “Probably no”, but if you send it once a month, I’d advise you to resend perhaps 2 weeks after the original send.
With special offers and solo mailings, it will be different, too. These types of emails are more aggressive in nature, so you may want to consider resending these more often than you would a regular ezine.
In this short article I am going to give you the “How”: specific instructions on how to create a temporary list of subscribers who haven’t opened an email. This technique will work with any Email Service Provider system that shows you exactly which email addresses were registered as “opens”, but I will use Constant Contact as an example. If you’d like instructions on how to do this in 1ShoppingCart, email me.
This technique works in general, when you want to re-send an email campaign to a list, but exclude those subscribers who have previously opened or clicked on a link.
This way your new, temporary list “Resend xyz” will contain only those subscribers who have not previously opened your original email campaign.
Use this list to resend your email campaign, then delete it. If you intend to resend several times, then rename the “Resend xyz” list as “opened” and remove the “new” openers from it. Each time you do it, the list will get smaller and smaller.
Things to Keep in Mind When Resending Your Emails
You see, there are so many variables, and things to consider, and we’re out of time and space, as I am trying to keep this last issue of 2007 a short one.
Before doing any “open heart surgery” on your lists, save a backup copy of your active subscribers to your computer.
Copyright 2007 by Boris Mahovac – Your Ezine Coach