Carolyn McMaster | July 28, 2015
We marketers love to hammer on measurable results. For a newsletter, the basic metrics are pretty easy: opens, clicks and shares measure who’s looking at your news, what they’re actually reading, and what they’re passing along.
But newsletters are also about building brand value—especially for B2B service firms and mission-driven companies like B Corps and social enterprises. Finding out if you’re achieving this is tougher to determine. If you’re at sea here, you’re not alone: a survey by the content marketing platform provider Contently found that most content marketers said they couldn’t measure whether their content was changing opinions about their brand or increasing the likelihood that people would buy. Many also couldn’t measure brand awareness or how much attention people are paying to content.
Measuring these longer-term intangible benefits isn’t as straightforward as counting leads, reach and the like—but there are ways to do it. Here are a few things to look at:
Subscriber list: quality over quantity
Capturing leads is unquestionably valuable, but by itself, it’s relatively shallow measure for most nonconsumer brands. Are people signing up because they want your newsletter content or because they’re getting 15 percent off their next purchase? Are new subscribers the people you want to reach? Once they’re on your list, are they opening emails and clicking, or are they unsubscribing? Better to have a smaller, devoted following than a mindless, inactive horde.
Engagement: sharing your story
Opens, clicks, shares and page views tell only part of the story. How long do people spend with your content? Are they on a page long enough to have read it through? Are they asking for demos or a conversation? (Make sure to give them obvious calls to action.) Are they sharing and forwarding your newsletter? Retweeting your tweets about it?
Anecdotal evidence: beyond opens and clicks
Things you can count are not the only measures of success. Anecdotal, qualitative feedback matters when tracking intangibles like brand awareness, changing perceptions and inclination to buy. (See this post for how to collect it.)
When someone signs up for your newsletter, you know they’re interested in what you do—but you may not know how much or what they think of you. That why it’s worth looking beyond the obvious and making a real effort to measure involvement and brand value.