Newsletters are nowadays the communication channel of choice for organisations, just ahead of social media. In a study, Statista estimates the number of email users in 2023 at 4.3 billion and the number of emails sent every day at 347 billion. All the same, this does not automatically mean good results for your newsletter, since the mere deliverability of an email means very little. Open, reads, clicks, sign-up… For the sender, the objectives are both multiple and interdependent. If you’re lost as to where to start, view our best practices for putting in place an effective newsletter for your museum.
By continuously enhancing your campaigns, you greatly increase your chances of reaching – and engaging – your target audience. To achieve this, you need to carry out an in-depth analysis of the performance of your newsletters. We take a look at the best practices to assess your results… and boost them!
Use the most relevant performance indicators
– Deliverability rate is the number of emails successfully reaching the addressees’ messaging services as a proportion of the total number of emails sent. This measure encompasses two sub-indicators: soft bounces, which are emails returned due to a server problem preventing your newsletter from being received (you have to try again later), and hard bounces, which are emails returned due to an error in the email address (on which the quality of your database directly depends). To avoid the second kind of incident, your contact database must be regularly updated and corrected as and when necessary.
– Open rate is the number of emails opened as a percentage of the total number of emails delivered. You can maximise it by using an attention-grabbing subject line and pre-header (possibly personalised, why not?) and choosing the best day and time to send it. Be sure to disaggregate unique opens (one per recipient) from cumulative opens. Subtracting one from the other gives you the number of times the emails have been re-opened; the more times your addressees re-open (and therefore re-read) your newsletter, the more interested they presumably are in its content.
– Click rate is the number of clicks divided by the total number of emails delivered. This indicator depends not only on the two previous ones but also on the quality of the content pushed in your email and its ability to call to action (excluding the number of clicks on the “unsubscribe” link). To improve it, pique your contacts’ curiosity by hinting at the benefits of clicking on your links, using action verbs and engaging turns of phrase. As with the open rate, don’t hesitate to separate unique clicks from cumulative clicks for more targeted visibility.
– Reaction rate or click-through rate is the most widely used indicator of engagement. It is calculated as the ratio of the number of clicks to the number of emails opened, and thus reflects the ability of your newsletter’s content (visual and textual) to spur the desire to find out more. Personalising your communication by segmenting your contacts is a sure-fire way to improve this figure.
– Unsubscribe rate designates the percentage of requests to cancel the subscription to your newsletter. Obviously you want it to be as low as possible, preferably below 0.2%. The direct factors are the quality of your contact database and your content, but also the frequency with which you send your communications. Always favour value over quantity, and be sure not to over-solicit your contacts.
While these indicators are the main ones, there are others that will allow you (depending on your emailing app) to fine-tune your performance monitoring: average reading time, proportion of emails opened on a mobile phone as opposed to a PC, etc. Bear in mind that all these results are absolute values; you have to see how they interact in context to be able to interpret them correctly. So as not to lose the thread, enter these data in a table after each dispatch and summarise them in a few sentences. This will allow you to design future actions for improvement.
Analyse what happens after the click
Your newsletter is just a springboard to the content published on your website. Mere analysis of its performance is therefore not enough to understand the behaviour (and therefore the preferences) of your audience. Some of your contacts clicked on your links, but what did they do next? Did they register for your exhibitions? Did they order merchandise from your online shop? Unfortunately this information is not provided by your emailing solution.
Using a statistical tool such as Matomo, however, can allow you to obtain these data. After adding a HTML tracking pixel to your newsletter, you will be able to tag each link inserted in your communication. Back on your Matomo interface, you will now be able to see the source of each click on the URLs of your website. Has one of the visuals of your email proven particularly effective? Then replicate its design or use it as inspiration for your next campaign.
As well as making your analysis more meaningful, it also puts you in a better position to interpret the performance of your email, understand your audience and accordingly fine-tune your content and communication strategies.
Experiment with different approaches and pay attention to your audience’s reactions
The figures might not always be entirely transparent, but you can’t rely on your intuition always being right either.
One of the best practices for leaving nothing to chance is to test the combinations that seem to you the most pertinent. In this regard, A/B testing is a much-used technique to boost campaign performances in the short term. The principle is simple; offer two types of newsletters to a sample of your contact database for a limited time before selecting the one whose content seems to be more effective in spurring people to action and sending it to the rest of your contacts. Subject line, pre-header, visuals, texts, CTA buttons… Identify the variable(s) you regard as most likely to make the difference.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to sound out your audience regarding their expectations and preferences. For example, you can ask them what content they would like to receive (blog articles, new merchandise, cultural programmes, etc.) when they subscribe (which requires the implementation of a double opt-in form) or in a questionnaire sent on an ad hoc basis. This shows you’re listening and inspires reassurance.