The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Back at the beginning of May CLUAS relaunched its email newsletter. The first newsletter I must say was a bit of a stab in the dark, considering it was four years since CLUAS had sent out its last newsletter and in the intervening period newsletters have fallen to the wayside a bit as a means for people use to get info from or on websites (especially with the rise of RSS feeds and social networking sites). Nonetheless, call me a traditionalist or whatever, I still think a newsletter can still play a valuable role for extending the reach of CLUAS.

To get our newsletter out CLUAS is using the services of (Your Mailing List Provider) a well established and trustworthy third party for sending out newsletters (for those who wonder why we don’t just send it out ourselves using normal email software I should point out that a third party is really needed for newsletters with several thousand subscribers as sending such a number of emails in one go is no trivial matter with the growing number of restrictions ISPs have put in place to combat email spam). Anyways, I digress...

One of the interesting additional services these YMLP guys offer are detailed stats on how many people clicked on a link in the newsletter to reach CLUAS and what links were the most popular. As I like my numbers I thought I’d indulge a bit and provide some details below on what these stats threw up for the first CLUAS newsletter in four years.

The first thing I was looking out for after I hit the ‘send’ button for the newsletter was how many of the 6025 email addresses we had in our subscriber list would still be active and how many would were dead. Considering some of our subscribers emails went back to 1999 my guess was that about half of them would be dead addresses. I was surprised to see that just 30% of the addresses turned out to be the virtual equivalent of a black hole (of the original 6025 only 1834 addresses turned out to be totally dead, and were automatically removed from the mailing list). Of the remaining 4191 email addresses an additional 216 bounced back to us with what they call a 'soft bounce' (e.g. the recipient's mailbox was full). Such soft bounces will only be removed from our mailing list if there are 3 consecutive 'soft' bounces. All in all of the original 6025 a grand total of 3975 newsletters were delivered. The number of people who choose to unsubscribe was a very low figure: only 33 people unsubscribed (less than 1% of the newsletters delivered).

But how many people who received the newsletter bothered to open it and of those how many chose to click on a link in the newsletter to visit CLUAS? It is actually impossible to get accurate stats on how many people opened a newsletter (for a variety of valid reasons I won't bore you with here) but these YMLP guys provide us with accurate stats on the number of links in a newsletter that were clicked on. They were able to determine that a total of 462 links in the newsletter were clicked by those who read it. The most popular links that were clicked were:

The accuracy of the 462 links clicked in the newsletter I do not doubt and, at a first glance, it seems quite low for an email received by almost 4000 subscribers. However you need to dig a bit deeper to understand the full picture. The visitor analysis software used by (the Google Analytics service) revealed that someone clicking on one of those links in the newsletter went on to view an average of was 3.3 pages on CLUAS. This means that those 462 clicks generated just over 1500 'page views'. Still, not massive number for a mailing received by 4000 subscribers. But my guess is that among those who chose to click a link in the newsletter there were many who would not have visited the site in a long time and, hopefully having liked what they saw, some of them will become more regular visitors to the site. It is this difficult to measure aspect of a newsletter's impact that is an important part of its real value, even if RSS feeds and the like are - for some - a more modern way to get updates on the latest stuff happening on a website.

I'll be looking out to see if this sort of figure (1500 page views, for an email received by 4000 people) holds up with our future newsletters. I guess my better judgement will again take a walk and I will end up blogging about it. You can start groaning now.

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Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.