Yesterday, McBru Blog (a weblog published by the advertising/PR firm McClenahan Bruer Communications), offered an intriguing and potentially instructive post.
In “We Know What Readers Like,” “Jeff H” wrote:
“The thinking, among journalists, is that nobody in readerland gives a care about the fact that you’ve brought on a new vice president of customer-facing solutions. Or so we thought.”
According to Jeff H, that newsletter issue included several types of items. (He didn’t say, but I’m guessing the e-mail newsletter offered teaser or summary items, each with a link to the complete piece on the web.) In this issue were announcements of a white paper, recent media coverage, and “a little news release about a couple people who had joined our client’s advisory board.”
Surprisingly (well, at least to me :-)), the advisory board announcement attracted the highest clickthrough rate for that newsletter.
This is indeed an interesting result. I left the following comment on McBru blog, in order to try to put this result into context…
That is very interesting. I’m curious why you got that result. It is indeed contrary to everything Iâ€™ve heard about press releases announcing new personnel, especially from journalists. Hey, everyoneâ€™s wrong sometimes itâ€™s possible I missed something here. But I suspect that your results offer some interesting lessons.
Could you please describe provide more background on this newsletter, to help me put your results in context?
Here’s what I’d like to know:
- Who’s the audience for this e-mail newsletter? For instance, if most subscribers already have a longstanding connection with your client, then perhaps that might explain an unusually high level of interest in personnel or advisory board issues.
- Were the new advisory board members particularly famous, notable, or unusual in any way? For instance, if the new advisory board members were, say, Julia Roberts, Jeff Skilling, and Paul Wolfowitz, that might explain an unusual level of interest in those items. 😉
- Where were the advisory board announcements positioned? Did they appear at or near the top of the newsletter? With long e-mail newsletters, most people don’t scroll down much.
- Comparatively, how interesting or fresh were the other newsletter items?
- Was anything notable or unusual happening with your client at the time the newsletter was published?
- Was there anything else different about this newsletter issue that might have affected measurable response patterns?
- Does this newsletter go out to journalists? It would be interesting to gauge their reaction vs. the rest of the audience.
- Overall, do you get much response to this newsletter? I mean, if you get a lot of clickthroughs per issue, that’s great but if clickthrough response is generally low, redistributing the types of clickthroughs within that low response rate wouldn’t address more pressing concerns.
…This is a very interesting experiment you did. Thanks for publishing it. I’d love to hear more about it. Newsletter clickthrough results are interesting, but they’re even more interesting and useful when you put them into context and try to understand why readers are clicking through.
I’m letting my readers know about your results in a posting to Contentious.com today. Thanks again, and I look forward to this discussion.
– Amy Gahran
I do hope McBru chooses to respond to my questions, I think there’s something here we all can learn from. Maybe they could even get permission from the client to publish the e-mail newsletter to the web, to further this discussion and aid understanding.