This is our first article in a series about good actionable KPI's to optimize various ROI. Future articles will focuse on metrics for fraud detection, user engagement etc. This one focuses on newsletter optimization.
If you run an online newsletter, here are a number of metrics you need to track:
- Open rate: proportion of uniques opening your newsletter. Anything below 10% is poor, unless your e-CPM is low.
- Number of opens: some users will open your message multiple times.
- Users opening more than 2 times: these people are potential leads or competitors. If very few users open more than once, your content is not interesting, or maybe there is only one clickable link in your newsletter.
- Click rate: average number of clicks per open. If less than 0.5, your subject line might be great, but the content (body) irrelevant.
- Open rate broken down per client (Yahoo mail, Gmail, Hotmail etc.) If your open rate for Hotmail users is very low, you should consider eliminating Hotmail users from your mailing list as it can corrupt your entire list.
- Open rate and click rate broken down per user segment.
- Trends: does open rate, click rate etc. per segment go up or down over time? Identify best performing segments. Send different newsletter to different segments.
- Unsubscribe and churn rate. What subject line / content increase unsubscribe or complaint rate?
- Spam complaints - should be kept to less than one per thousand messages sent. Identify segments and clients (e.g. Hotmail) generating high complaint rates, and remove them.
- Geography: are you growing in India but shrinking in US? Is your open rate better in Nigeria? That's not a good sign, even if your overall trend looks good.
- Language - do you have many Hispanic subscribers? If yes can you send a newsletter in Spanish to these people? Can you identify Spanish speakers (you can if you ask a question about language on sign-up)
- Track open rate by day of week and time. Identify best times to send your newsletter.
- User segmentation: ask many questions to new subscribers e.g. about their interests - make these questions optional. This will allow you to better target your subscribers.
- Growth acceleration. Are you reaching a saturation point? If yes you need to find new sources of subscribers or reduce your frequency of email blasts (possibly finding fewer but better or more relevant advertisers to optimize e-CPM).
- Are images causing low open rates? Are redirects (used to track clicks) causing low open rates? Some URL shorteners such as bit.ly, while very useful, can result in low open rate or people not clicking on links due to risk of computer infection.
- Have you tracked keywords that work well or poorly, in the subject line, to drive your open rate up?
- Have you tried changing your "from" field to see what works best? A/B testing could help you answer this question.
- Size of message: if too large, could cause performance issue.
- Format: text or HTML? Do some A/B testing to find optimum.
Note: e-CPM is the revenue generated per thousand impressions. It is your most important metric, together with churn.