Measuring the Success of your e-Newsletter (Part 2)
Gathering your data about your newsletter is only useful if you actually act on that information. You need to report on your results, balance the effort against the impact, take action to improve and be conscious of the impact on your organisational reputation.
Creating a report format for your newsletter stats allows you to easily compare your statistics over time. This will alert you to any problems that have occurred or an increase in the popularity of your newsletter. A well-laid out and easy to read report will provide useful information for your donors and management.
Create your report to show issue-on-issue statistics so that you can track improvements on your newsletter performance from one edition to the next. Create space in the report for comments so that you can provide contextual information to help interpret the results. When you send out the report, pull out key results and put them in the body of the email.
Although you generally want to keep your reports consistent, refining them, especially at the beginning, is essential to ensure that they correct data is being collected and presented in a useful way. Ask the recipients of these reports what data they would most like to see and what they find useful for decision making.
Return on investment
Non-profit organisations typically spend a large amount of time and effort putting newsletters together, involving a range of people from across the organisation. NGOs seldom ask the question “Is it worth it?”
Compare the amount of time spent on creating the newsletter to the number of opens and to any measurable action that results from the newsletter. If the effort is disproportionate to the value, you need to either scale back the effort put into the newsletter or take serious measures to increase your newsletter impact.
If you are able to quantify the inputs to your newsletter, you can report on the cost vs benefit in your newsletter report.
Measuring impact on reputation
Whether you intend it or not your newsletter is going to impact on your organisation’s reputation. You need to understand this impact and what factors influence it. For example:
Are you spamming people?
- If you have just added all the email addresses of everyone you know without their permission you may be irritating people and thus negatively impacting on your organisation’s reputation. Not to mention the fact that spam is illegal under South Africa’s Electronic Communications Act.
Are there broken links or other technical problems with your newsletter?
- These create an unprofessional impression. Test absolutely everything in your newsletter before you send it out.
Is your newsletter professional looking and attractive?
- A cluttered layout, poor quality photographs (grainy photos of the backs of people’s heads at a workshop, for example), and poor choice of colours can create a very unprofessional look and feel for your newsletter. Where possible, get professional design help to design your newsletter or use some of the free newsletter templates available through the Bulk Emailing Service
Is your newsletter standard of high quality?
- Poorly written or edited articles and boring content can all have a negative impact on people’s perception of your newsletter, and consequently your organisation as a whole.
Although it is useful to know how well your organisation’s newsletter compares to others in your sector, the information you gather to measure your success is best used to compare your own success from month to month. It also allows you to try different ways of doing things to see what works best for you.