By Michele Linn published December 14, 2010 Est Read Time: 3 min

Lessons Learned from an eNewsletter Experiment

It’s been a little while since we checked in with Graham Kilshaw over at Interference Technology. If you remember, he was working on an email newsletter called the EMC Business Bulletin, and was asking the CMI community for their feedback.

Since we last checked in, Graham has sent two issues of his newsletter, and after six months and six issues, he wanted to share some of his lessons learned.

Initial stats don’t tell the whole story

To Graham’s surprise, some of the open / click-thru stats increased significantly weeks after the Bulletin went out. For instance, he sent a newsletter out on August 4 that promoted a relevant study in his industry – and he says a further 200 opens and 50 click-thrus occurred between September and October.

Conclusion:
If it sounds like good material, people will hold it and eventually read it. Conversely, with some of Interference’s less interesting topics, the numbers did not change much after the first few days.

Intriguing subject lines help open rates but you need content to back it up

Sometimes, the open rate on a topic went up over the two months following the broadcast, but the click-thru rate did not.

Conclusion:
Subject lines get readers to hold onto issues of the Bulletin, but if the content is not compelling, the click-thru rate does not increase.

Pragmatic topics draw readers

Graham shared the top three Bulletins to date based on (total) open rates:

  • New Europe EMC Market Report (1,542)
  • Getting the Most Out of Your EMI Components Catalog (1,236)
  • Are you Hooked on Leads? (1,192) NOTE: as we mention above, this number could still go up if folks are holding it

Graham is using open rates as the primary measure of success which is a way to tell how well they are  engaging their audience, which are advertisers.

Conclusion:
Practical topics, with information that readers can apply, are most effective. The converse is also true: more theoretical topics, such as “How does timing affect your marketing?” did not perform well.

Consider how long people are spending on the site

The top three performing Bulletins to date based on (total) click-thrus to the website were:

  • New Europe EMC Market Report (209)
  • Are you Hooked on Leads ? (219) [Note: This  is now their top  “click-thru” Bulletin to date.]
  • Getting the Most Out of Your EMI Components Catalog (100)

Graham is using click-thru to measure how successfully they get readers, who are potential advertisers, to spend time on their site.

Conclusions:
A few things can be noted from this:

  • When Interference Technology presents information from electronics suppliers in the industry, the readers, who are their competitors, get more interested  – no surprise. For example, the Europe EMC Study quoted data from suppliers, and produced the second highest set of responses to date. See above.
  • Information that directly helps to build their business (practical not theoretical) is the most attractive to their audience.
  • Interference Technology needs to think carefully about how they structure the Bulletin, and “save the good stuff” to post onto the site to pull readers through.

One last thought about increasing the level of interest – the EMC Business Bulletin started in June as a newsletter with several items of news per issue. It has evolved, with the invaluable input of the CMI community, into a single topic per issue, and although Graham does not see it as an “op ed” vehicle, he is now gradually adopting more of a blog style of writing in an attempt to increase the “interestingness” of the subject lines and the content.

Of course, all audiences differ, but how do your experiences mirror/differ from what Graham found? Any other ideas you can share?

Author: Michele Linn

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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