Email newsletters might seem antiquated to some, but they continue to have incredible value, particularly when it comes to reaching interested fans. Whether you're just starting out with email newsletters, or have been doing them for awhile, here are the five most important metrics when it comes to email marketing. __________________________ Guest post by Hugh McIntyre of the Symphonic Blog These days, so many musicians focus all their marketing attention on social media platforms, and while it’s absolutely a good idea to spend time, money, and effort on being where people actually are, the old school methods are still very important. Email newsletters may seem outdated to some, but they can be incredibly valuable when it comes to not only reaching those who have identified themselves as the biggest fans of your work, but also those who are willing to do the most to support you financially. If you’re not already sending email newsletters, you need to start now… and if you’re just getting started, make sure you do it right. Here are the 5 most important metrics you need to pay attention to when it comes to email marketing: Open Rate Perhaps the most important of all the figures you’ll be examining when you dive into email marketing on a professional level is the open rate. Thankfully, it’s pretty straightforward. Of all the people you sent your latest newsletter to, how many of them actually opened it? That’s the open rate. Now, I should warn you in advance that even if your list is filled with people who signed up willingly and who have identified themselves as big fans of your band, that doesn’t mean your open rate is going to be anywhere near 100%. In fact, if you get even one-fifth of that, you’re already doing great. In time, you can watch your open rate to gauge what works with your audience when it comes to the best time of day to send emails, the frequency with which you put them out into the world, and the subject lines that pull them in and get you more subscribers. There are best practices and suggestions out there, but at the end of the day, you need to play around with everything for a while to learn what your fans want. Click-Through Rate If the open rate is the single most important metric you need to pay attention to, the click-through rate deserves to come in second. Getting someone to open your message is a huge win, but what do they do after they’ve quickly glanced through the images and text? Do they simply move on to the next email, or do they actually do something related to the message you sent? The main goal when it comes to the vast majority of email communication is to get people to click through to a website, but what comes after that depends on the organization doing the sending. Brands may want a reader to click through and buy something from a newly-announced sale. A politician may want a potential voter to click through to read about their specific positions on issues. A band could be looking for a fan to click through to see a new tour date, listen to a new song, or potentially even purchase some new merch. Monitoring the click-through rate will give you an idea of how effective your messaging is. You may see the number rise or fall depending on what images you use, the headlines you write, and so on, and you should use these suggestions to help you create better emails in the future. Conversion Rate Conversion rate and click-through rate go hand-in-hand, and you can’t examine just one. The click-through rate will show you how many people read your message and actually clicked whatever link was embedded in the message. That’s a big win, but it’s only one of the first steps. Once someone has landed on whatever web page you indicated, do they actually do the thing you wanted them to? Here’s an example that might clear things up: The click-through rate may tell you how many fans visited your website to see your new merchandise. The conversion rate will tell you how many actually purchased something. If your click-through rate is very high but your conversion rate is surprisingly low, there’s probably something wrong with your actual webpage. Maybe they didn’t care for the new t-shirts, or perhaps a link was broken and thus they couldn’t enter their credit card number. The rate itself won’t tell you what’s wrong, but it will help point you in the right direction…then it’s up to you to figure it out and fix it! ROI ROI stands for return on investment, and it’s something that everyone spending any money to make any money looks at. When it comes to email newsletters, you’ll want to think about your ROI in two different ways. You need to consider your ROI monetarily. If you’re working with a company that helps you compose newsletters, keep a database of subscribers, and analyze important figures like your click-through and open rates, you need to think about how much you’re paying them versus how much you’re making from that activity. You might not immediately earn much money from a newsletter, but after a while, it should turn a profit. If you go more than a year or so without actually bringing cash in from your newsletter, something’s not right, and it might not financially be worth it. You have to look at how much time you’re spending on your newsletter. You should take the time to think about every word and image used, and you want to make sure you’re sending a quality product out into the world, but you also can’t spend too long on every message. Time is money, and if the creation of your weekly or monthly newsletters are eating up hours upon hours, you need to find a way to cut that down dramatically…otherwise, you won’t have any time to actually make the music you’re trying to sell! Unsubscribe Rate As someone with a newsletter, you’re always going to be sad to see someone decide they no longer want to receive messages from you, but it’s inevitable. Even if you have the best email newsletter in the world, at some point someone will simply opt out, and you need to be prepared for that. If you have a small number of people leaving the party, you’re okay…but you want to watch this rate carefully to see if you’re doing something wrong, or perhaps if you’ve got it all right. If you see a large number of people jump ship after a specific email, you need to think long and hard about why. If you notice that a lot of fans opt out after just one message, you’re really doing something wrong. You want to hold onto as many hard-earned subscribers as possible, so take note whenever someone tells you they no longer want your alerts, but don’t take it personal! Hugh McIntyre is a freelance music journalist based in New York City. His byline has appeared in Billboard, Huffington Post, Mashable, Noisey, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Fuse, and dozens of other magazines and blogs around the world. He loves following charts and the biggest and most successful names in the industry, and he's always interested in highlighting incredible feats and discovering what's next.