List composition does a nice job of showing how many subscribers are still on the list versus how many have unsubscribed or had to be cleaned due to deliverability issues or lack of engagement. If these percentages are unhealthy, action needs to be taken.
Another metric that provides more depth is the percentage of readers who open 50% of newsletters per month
. Dan Oshinsky
does a great job of pointing out
the importance of this metric:
This metric can help you see what percentage of your readers are making a habit of opening your emails. And those habits matter, particularly if you’re working on newsletters for a news organization. One new study found that building habit is key to acquiring and retaining subscribers.
Readers with more than 50% (or a different percentage) opens per month is interesting because we get a feel for which percentage of readers get enough value from our newsletter and is likely to keep reading or even ready for further action such as selling a subscription.
Which brings us to the second challenge - more context in newsletter metrics. We need statistics that show how the newsletter is contributing to our business objectives.
For example, recent research shows that for organizations selling subscriptions a key metric is loyalty. Emily Roseman
translated loyalty into an actionable metric called “regularity” in an article
for the Membership Puzzle Project:
I found that “loyalty” is often measured through “regularity” metrics — or the process of measuring the people who return again and again to take an action or use your product.
Across data provided by 15 metro area publishers, they noted that only nine percent (9%) of users were “regular readers,” who view more than five articles in a thirty-day period.
For newsletters, that means tracking the number of readers that open the newsletter consistently and click through to articles for further reading regularly. And then optimizing the newsletter to grow this group even if that means slower overall list growth.
Community publisher WhereBy.Us has a different business model, a combination of donations, sponsoring and events. While “regularity” matters to them, it’s not the main focus. To be successful, WhereBy.Us instead needs to grow its newsletters in an effective way.
Step 1: List all the ways a new user can sign up for your product
Step 2: Choose metrics to measure the effectiveness of your growth sources. We decided that we needed to measure and compare three data points for each user acquisition strategy: the total number of new users that were acquired through the strategy, the time invested in acquiring those new users through that strategy, the engagement of those users
Step 3: Collate and analyze all the data
The effectiveness metric lets WhereBy.Us compare acquisition strategies. By doing so they added context to the shallow list size metric, and identified valuable list growth opportunities.