Still sending email newsletters using an email client like Outlook? If you want to measure impact, think twice before hitting send

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In the previous blog post, I started a journey about e-newsletters and in that post I suggested that the first step to getting an e-newsletter up and running was to decide which tool you’ll be using for the job. To recap, the job is sending a periodic email to a list of subscribers to inform them about your research, project, or whatever value you’re trying to communicate to your audience.

The quickest way to achieve the goal of getting an email into your subscribers’ inbox is to write your newsletter in your email client and hit send.

But, by doing it that way you might be missing out on the advantages that come with using an e-newsletter client to complete the job.


Using an e-newsletter client

An e-mail newsletter client can help you create, monitor, and manage your e-newsletter campaigns.

A lot of bloggers have written about the different e-newsletters clients on the market and broken down their features and benefits in detail (see suggested articles below if you’d like to know more), so I’m not going to be doing that here.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the e-newsletter client which I use, called Mailchimp, and why I think it might be useful for you to consider using too.

Note. I am not paid by Mailchimp to write this blog post – I just love their product, and I use it for my clients and myself 🙂


Five benefits of using an e-newsletter client like Mailchimp

Below you’ll find five reasons why using an e-newsletter client like Mailchimp is a wiser option than winging it with Outlook.


1: You get to measure your impact

Academics increasingly need to demonstrate that the work they are doing is achieving real-world impact.

Using a tool like Mailchimp can be an incredibly helpful way for you to collect data about the impact you’re achieving.

E-newsletter clients will almost always have a dashboard built into them to give you this data. In Mailchimp, you’ll find a tab called ‘Audience’ which gives you all kinds of insights into the impact of your e-newsletter.

The benefit of this data analytics tool for academics is that the audience statistics in Mailchimp can provide you with data to demonstrate national (and hopefully international) engagement with your research i.e. the kind of info that’s required on promotions applications to evidence the claims you’re making about how wonderful your work is 🙂

Which makes it a powerful tool for when your Head of School asks you to justify what you’ve been doing with your 40% research allowance.

With a few clicks, you can export a fancy-looking picture from your Mailchimp or equivalent dashboard showing that your research has reached thousands of people across the globe and email it back to her in your reply!

Here are some examples of the sorts of things Mailchimp can help you see after you send out your e-newsletter:

  • How many people opened your newsletter

  • The geographical location they were in when they opened it (good info for when you need to demonstrate geographical impact)

  • The growth of your subscriber list (i.e. evidence that your impact is growing over time)

And lots more!


2: You can design more impactful e-newsletter campaigns

The data available in Mailchimp about your e-newsletter (which is largely absent if you send your e-newsletter from typical email clients) is that it can help you design more impactful newsletter campaigns.

Mailchimp can help you to identify what subject lines in your email newsletter are most effective, and the relative effectiveness across different newsletters. Taking note of this data can help you craft the titles of your newsletters to get better open rates (i.e. more impact!)

This data can also help you understand which topics are resonating with your audience because you can see what links in the e-newsletter were clicked on.

This information can help you improve the quality of your e-newsletter over time, which could lead to greater engagement, and greater reach as people share the value you’re giving them with others.


3: Create better looking e-newsletters

An email sent from Outlook can be great, but it’s unlikely to win any design awards.

And, like it or not… when it comes to sending out content, looks matter.

E-newsletter clients like Mailchimp will typically offer a selection of templates, or allow you to apply custom branding to your newsletters.

Mailchimp also has a range of drop and drag functionality such as embedding sharing icons so your subscribers can easily share your newsletter with their friends and colleagues or to their social accounts.


4: You don’t need to have written your newsletter to start collecting subscribers


Yes, it’s true. With e-newsletter clients, such as Mailchimp, you can create a one-page website (called a landing page) that contains details about your intended newsletter and include a subscriber box on the page so people to sign up to receive your e-newsletter when you get around to writing it.

You can then share the link to the landing page on your social accounts to help build your e-newsletter audience.

Having subscribers on your mailing list before you write your first newsletter will help ensure the valuable information you write has a ready-made audience for when you hit send.


5: You’ll be more likely to remain compliant (and not annoy your subscribers)

By using an e-newsletter client to share things with your subscribers, you are also giving them more control over the relationship, should they wish to opt out.

I’ve been added to countless subscriber lists over the years where it would be easier to donate an ovary compared to trying to unsubscribe from their newsletter.

In addition to forming extreme bad will, the process of making it difficult for people to unsubscribe from your newsletter is also in violation of laws in some countries.

Including an unsubscribe button in your email newsletters (which is mandatory in Mailchimp) is required by law in some jurisdictions.

Abiding by the guidelines in your e-newsletter client will help you stay inside the rules and helps keep your lists updated and compliant with anti-spam laws.


Suggested extra reading

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