The Ninth Commandment of Ezines: Watch thy numbers

Publishing an ezine can sometimes be a lonely business. You wonder if you’re delivering the kind of content your readers are really responding to. I occasionally get emails from readers saying they really enjoyed a particular issue or article. But I know that not everyone can take the time to give direct feedback.

So, what’s an ezine publisher to do?

Commandment #9: Thou shalt watch thy numbers and adjust thy ezine accordingly.

You may not realize that, if you use the right software or online service, you can actually see what readers are responding to! Some services allow you to see who received your ezine (and who didn’t, for various reasons), who opened your ezine, and whether anyone followed the links you provided.

For example, I found out, quite by accident, that case studies are very popular with my audience. Theory is all well and good, but seeing actual results of my work is really what gets the most “hits.” So, I’m trying, as much as time allows, to include write-ups of recent work in my ezines and seminars with links to additional information on my website.

Other ezine publishers of my acquaintance survey their readers periodically to see what interests them. Then, they build their content around the feedback they receive.

Be careful, though, to keep your expectations reasonable. Open rates (statistics showing how many recipients opened your email) for ezines (even opt-in publications) hover in the 35-40% range.

And such “open rates” don’t include those whose email systems do not support such reporting (generally, older plain-text-based email systems). So your “open rate” tells you that at least X% of your recipients opened your email.

Including links for more information on a particular topic often helps with gauging interest. But here, too, you must keep your expectations reasonable. Often, even readers of opt-in publications are hesitant to click on links because of concerns about phishing or viruses. And, too, a lot of folks who are opening your ezine may not want to be seen “browsing the Web” while at work.

So, if the software or service you use to send out your ezine supports it, keep an eye on your statistics, and use that information to adjust your content as you go. You’ll keep your readers happy, and you’ll boost the viral marketing power of your ezine to boot!

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