Newsletter Tool

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Below is your customized Newsletter Playbook, populated with information from your session with us. The playbook can help you determine all elements of newsletter production and maintenance, including various design and revenue models, content, marketing, metric dashboard options, resources and staffing considerations, and more.

If you're a freelancer, or someone interested in newsletters, refer to your playbook to make editorial decisions about your product. If you work in a newsroom, your customized playbook can be presented to your team and coworkers as a business plan to start a newsletter. Whatever your goal, enjoy your playbook, and thanks for optin' in!

Why send a newsletter?

In recent years, e-newsletters have become essential engagement, branding, and revenue-generating tools for modern newsrooms. Newsletters can help freelancers and newsrooms:

  • cultivate reader loyalty with both your news products and network,
  • gain valuable insight into the content that matters most to your audience,
  • recruit relevant sponsorship and underwriting partners,
  • communicate membership or subscription value propositions, and/or
  • grow sustainable support and traffic for your coverage.

Here is the breakdown of your newsletter:

About you or your newsroom:

Mission statement:

Business model:

About your newsletter:

Your target audience is:

The geographic location you are focusing on is:

The age range you're catering to is:

The gender you're catering to is:

The topic(s) this newsletter will cover is/are:

To create this newsletter, I will use:

This newsletter will be written in:

Here are the goals you chose for your newsletter:

The most important outcome of this newsletter is:





About your newsletter model:

Based on your newsletter goals, we recommended you select a model for your newsletter.

You chose for your newsletter.

Here's an example of a model newsletter:

Paying for your newsletter:

You plan to monetize your newsletter using:

Voice and content

The voice of your newsletter will be:

Written content will be in the form of:

Visual content in the newsletter will include:

Launch marketing tactics

We have set aside to launch this newsletter.

We plan to use this money on:

Resources and staffing

will put this newsletter together on/in . It will take

Metrics will be tracked and analyzed by . And it will take to do so.

Advertising, underwriting, and/or membership elements of the newsletter (if applicable) will be managed by . And it will take .

We'll also need support from in the form of .

Newsletter maintenance

Here's what you told us about your old newsletter, you should keep this data on hand so you know that you're improving:

Baselines:

  • Average open rate:
  • Average click-through rate:
  • Number of current subscribers:
  • Average monthly subscriber rate:
  • Average monthly unsubscribe rate:

Problems:

We used the problems you indicated in your diagnostics sheet to help recommend your new model. Here's what you chose:

How do you know you are improving? Welcome to the metrics dashboard!

Metrics, diagnostics, and iteration

Metrics can have a huge impact on the deliverability, relevance, and overall success of your newsletter. But they're only useful is you USE them. Data-driven newsletters don't just collect intel, they learn from it and adapt because of it.

Pick only the metrics below that will inform whether you are achieving the intended outcome you identified at the beginning of this tool. We'll walk you through what each metric can teach you, and how you can use each to diagnose symptoms in your newsletter.

Metric Description Industry Standards Diagnostics and Testing
Open-rate Tells you the average percent of subscribers that open your newsletter.

The unique open rate measures one open per recipient and is expressed as a percentage of the total number of delivered email messages. To calculate the rate, divide the number of unique opens by the total number of delivered emails, and then multiply by 100 to display the percentage” (IBM, 2016).
  • 22.08% (MailChimp)
  • 19.37% (SmartInsights)
  • 19.3% (IBM Marketing Cloud)
  • Subject line composition: Is it relevant, urgent or of interest to your subscribers?
  • “From” contact name or email: Do your subscribers recognize who it's coming from?
  • Timing: Are you sending it at an ideal time for your subscribers?
  • Frequency: Are you sending it too frequently? Not frequently enough?
  • List hygiene: Are spam filters, blacklists or filters getting in your way?
  • Relevance: Are you sending content that is interesting to your subscribers in the format they want it in?
Click-through rate Tells you how many email messages draw at least a single click. You may also chose to track click-to-open rate, a quick and dirty measure of subscriber engagement, determined by dividing the number of unique clicks by the number of total recipients.
  • 4.69% (MailChimp)
  • 6.10% (SmartInsights)
  • 2.7% (IBM)
  • Design: Are your hyperlinks obviously hyperlinks? Is it clear where each URL will lead the subscriber?
  • Trustworthiness: Do your links look reliable and legitimate to click on? Do you have a high spam rating?
  • Relevance: Are you sending content that is interesting to your subscribers?
  • Content length: Is content in a format that incentivizes clicking to learn more? Can a subscriber read everything they need to know in the body of your email or does it require them to click to a different platform?
Click-to-open rate “Measures the percentage of opened messages that recorded clicks. To calculate, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of opened messages and multiply by 100” (IBM, 2016).
  • 31.48% (SmartInsights)
  • 12.9% (IBM)
  • Equation
  • Look into diagnostics
Tracking pixel (engagement/read rate) Tells you how much time subscribers are actually spending reading your newsletter, or how far through in the newsletter they scroll. Considered to capture the true “open rate” of an email by distinguishing between reading, skimming and glancing. This is an essential metric for self-contained email models.

Engagement Metrics (“read rates”): These measure the amount of time a recipient looks at a message. Although they can be classified in several ways, this study uses the following measurements:
  • Read: Eight seconds or more
  • Skimmed: Two seconds or more but less than eight
  • Glanced: Less than two seconds (IBM, 2016)
  • Glanced: 25%
  • Skimmed: 22%
  • Read: 53%

(IBM)

  • Relevance: Are you sending content that is interesting to your subscribers?
  • Layout: Is your template structured for a positive user experience?
  • Content length: Is content in a format that incentivizes continued reading of the email to learn more? Can a subscriber read everything they need to know in the body of your email, or does it require them to click to a different platform? Is there enough content within the body of the email to keep subscribers engaged for more than eight seconds?
Subscription rate Tells you how easily new subscribers discover and sign up for your newsletter. 1-2% is slow, anything over 10% is robust (SilverPop); aim for linear growth, not exponential.
  • Marketing: Is it easy for prospective subscribers to learn that your newsletter exists?
  • Sign-up: Is your newsletter sign-up form obvious to find? How many steps is the sign-up process? Do you require a single or a double opt-in sign up?
  • Call to action: Are you galvanizing current subscribers to help you recruit more?
  • Social media shortcuts: Have you made it easy for subscribers to click and share content directly from your email?
Unsubscribes Tells you how many subscribers no longer find your newsletter relevant or necessary.

The percentage of delivered email messages that generates unsubscribe requests. To calculate, divide the number of unsubscribe requests received by delivered emails and multiply by 100” (IBM, 2016).
  • 0.12% (MailChimp)
  • 0.069% (IBM)
  • Relevance: Are you sending content that is interesting to your subscribers in the format they want it in?
  • Marketing: Do your newsletters deliver on the promise of your current marketing?
  • Subject line composition: Do your subject lines relate to the content included in your newsletters?
  • Bulk subscriptions: Did you pay to add subscribers to your list rather than inviting them to opt-in? Did you require a subscription to access a one-time perk?
Conversion No data
  • Percent of subscribers pay $
  • Low rate: call to action, value proposition
  • Content/relevance
  • Branding
Spam and blacklisting Tells you the percentage of delivered email messages that generate spam complaints. Of the 11,680 messages the average email user receives each year, roughly 74 percent are automatically filtered into spam or junk folders, according to TechCrunch. However, many newsrooms focus on growth in list numbers rather than inbox placement, reducing the likelihood of regular list hygiene that would reduce spam or junk folder filtering. Bernice Fung of Return Path explains that “major mailbox providers like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! rely on both sender reputation and subscriber engagement metrics to make spam-filtering decisions. A high bounce rate is seen as a strong indicator of poor sending practices and low engagement, which can prompt mailbox providers to filter or even block email.” No known industry standards
  • List hygiene: Do you regularly clean your newsletter subscriber list to remove hard bounce or dead emails?
  • Design: Is an “email preferences” or “unsubscribe” button clearly visible at the footer of your template?
  • Trustworthiness: Are you seen as a reliable and legitimate source to open?
  • Heavy marketing: Does your newsletter appear to be a sales pitch?
  • Frequency: Are you sending your newsletter more often than subscribers want?
  • Bulk subscriptions: Did you pay to add subscribers to your list that have no idea how they got signed up?
  • Relevance: Are you sending content that is interesting to your subscribers?
  • Single opt-in sign-up: Are subscribers required to confirm that they want to receive your email in the first place (double opt-in)?
Hard bounce “Hard Bounce: A message that generates a permanent delivery failure because the recipient's address doesn't exist or the account was closed.

The percentage of sent messages that failed (bounced) because the address doesn't exist or the account was closed. To calculate, divide the total number of bounced messages by the total number of emails sent, and multiply by 100,”


(IBM, 2016).
  • 0.18% (MailChimp)
  • 0.265% (IBM)
  • List hygiene
  • Change of email
  • Inbox full
  • Server issue
  • Single opt-in
Re-open Models: Track no matter what model you use. No Data
  • High engagement
  • High value
  • Content
Sharing (email and social) Tells you how actively engaged subscribers are with your newsletter product and brand. No Data
  • Calls to action: Have you asked subscribers or incentivized sharing in any way? Do you call out or reward subscribers who share your content?
  • Social media shortcuts: Have you made it easy for subscribers to click and share content directly from your email?
  • Engagement
  • Layout/Format
  • Call to action
  • Relevance
  • Social share ease
  • Non-influencer demographic