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Accounting Firms: What to Expect When Expecting E-Newsletter Results

I recently emailed results of an e-newsletter blast to a CPA client of ours.  They replied with a simple question “Is this normal?”.  Good question, I thought to myself.

Email communications are a great way to inform and engage your audience and there is a lot of emphasis on the work that goes into the content development and the distribution of the e-newsletter, but what happens after the blast has been distributed?  Here is a summary of what the data and analytics collected mean and what you can expect when you are expecting e-newsletter results.

Here are the top 5 data points to pay attention to:

  • Open Rate
    The Open Rate is the percentage of contacts that received and opened the email.  This is important because it lets you know how many of your contacts opened your email.
  • Click Rate
    The Click Rate is the percentage of the contacts that both opened the email and clicked on any of your links.  This is important because it lets you know how engaged your contacts were after they opened your email.
  • Bounced
    The Bounced number refers to the amount of emails that were rejected or in other words never made it to the intended contact.  This is important because it can indicate these contact’s email addresses are having problems receiving your email and may need attention or removed from your list.
  • Unsubscribed
    An Unsubscribed contact is a contact that has made a choice to be removed from your list by clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link in the footer of your newsletter.  (Unsubscribes are better than being flagged as spam).
  • Top links clicked
    Top links indicate the most popular content in the newsletter and may provide insight into what your clients find valuable information or what they might like more of.


E-Newsletter Results

So what can you expect when you get your results?  This is a complicated question and depends on the data you have available.  For instance, if you are just starting a new campaign, you will not have much to compare your results to except maybe industry averages, but the averages can give you some kind of baseline for comparison.  However, if you have been sending e-newsletters for a while and are using an online service such as MailChimp, iContact, or ConstantContact, they keep track of and provide you detailed information about your current and previous results and this will provide you a more accurate data set for comparison.

According to MailChimp’s data on average email campaign stats by industry, the Accounting or Professional Services industry has the following results:

Open     Click       Bounce
39%        3.2%      1.4%

Whether or not you are above, below or right on the Industry Averages depends on many factors including external factors like the list itself or the time of day the email was sent or internal factors like subject line copy, newsletter design or content.

If you have an extensive history of results you can go back and look at your historical averages, you will be able to spot trends in subscription & un-subscription rates, as well as average open rates, bounce rates, etc.  You can review this data and take a look at your most successful emails and least successful emails to see if you can find anything that stands out as a positive or negative.  Did the subject lines change over time?  What time of day or what part of the week were your most successful emails sent?  You can then use your own data to help improve your open rates and overall e-newsletter success.

Tips to improve your Open Rate

  1. Ensure you have an informative subject line that does not sell what is inside the newsletter but instead quickly and accurately informs the reader what is inside.  Nobody likes to be mislead or over-sold in an email subject line.  Also, consider A/B Split E-mail Testing.
  2. Don’t look like spam.  Using spammy words, ALL CAPS, too many exclamation points are not recommended.
  3. Ensure your list is as accurate as possible and ensure you have permission to add users to your list.  Even better, request your new contacts self-sign up to your newsletter using forms that are integrated with your email delivery provider.
  4. Be consistent with your email frequency.  If you have a monthly e-newsletter, send it out near the same time every month and be sure and send one out every month.  Infrequency is as much of a turn-off as sending emails too frequently.
  5. Review your historical data to see if your best open rates occur on similar days or around similar times.  If nothing stands out or if overall the open rates are still low, consider changing the day of the week and time of day in which you send.


Related Articles

Here are two related articles that can help improve your e-newsletters:

Scott Dine
About the Author
With years of experience in marketing and information technology, Scott has a passion for helping clients realize their ultimate potential. He does this by ensuring every Catalyst client receives outstanding marketing support and he works diligently to implement the latest online technology and keep clients abreast on recent marketing trends of CPA firms.