9 Newsletter Metrics You Need to be Tracking
From open rate to dormant subscribers, and everything in between, here's what you should be tracking and how to calculate.
When you start taking your newsletter more seriously and connecting with other writers, learning the meaning of each related term will be very helpful.
So, here goes the list of 9 metrics every newsletter writer should know:
Open rate refers to the number of unique people who open your email divided by the number of emails you have sent. If one subscriber were to open your newsletter on ten separate occasions, it would still count as only one unique open.
For instance, if 25 out of 100 people open the first newsletter (25% open rate) and 35 out of 100 open the second newsletter (35% open rate), you would get an average open rate of 30%.
An open rate is the primary newsletter metric and will help you understand how well your content resonates with your audience and improve your subject lines.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Click-through rate refers to the number of unique clicks by readers divided by the number of emails opened.
For instance, if you sent your newsletter to 100 people, 50 opened it, and you achieved a CTR of 4%, it indicates that you had two unique clicks (4% of 50) from your readers.
Your click-through rate is indicative of your newsletter's level of engagement. So, you can experiment with your content and monitor your CTR to optimize engagement.
This is the number of unique clicks by readers divided by the number of emails delivered.
For instance, if you delivered your newsletter to 100 people and achieved a click rate of 5%, there were five unique clicks (5% of 100) from your readers.
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You can calculate your unsubscribe rate by dividing the total number of unsubscribes by the total number of emails delivered.
For example, if you have sent 1,000 emails and encountered ten unsubscribes, your unsubscribe rate is 1%.
Analyzing your unsubscribe rate can help you understand how well your content resonates with your audience.
Churn rate tells you how "sticky" your newsletter is in terms of retaining subscriber's attention.
Unlike in eCommerce, you likely want to measure churn not strictly by the number of users who are customers (if you run a paid publication) but rather by users who are engaged and then become unengaged.
To come up with this figure, you'll have to define the time period over which you'd like to analyze. Typically, monthly or yearly works really well.
The first step is to find the list of users at the beginning of the time period. If this was a monthly churn analysis, perhaps you'd pull engaged users as of May 1, 2022 - this is Cohort X_t0 in the image above. It's important that you're able to see the individual users here.
Next you'll want a list of the users at the end of the period, for this example all engaged users at May 31st - this is Cohort X_t1. You'll remove any new additions from this second list so that the second list is a subset of the first list.
From here you have everything you need to calculate churn for May 2022.
For example, if Cohort X_t0 had 10,000 members and Cohort X_t1 had 9,500 users, your loss is 500 users. 9,500 / 10,000 = .95. 1 - .95 = 5% churn.
This churn rate is local to the specific month that is analyzed, but barring major shifts in strategy or user behavior, this may be enough to work with.
Lifetime Value (LTV)
In general, LTV refers to the total dollar value each reader will bring you from when they subscribe until they churn.
For paid newsletters, the monthly subscription fee is multiplied by the average period a reader stays subscribed to your newsletter.
For example - $5 per month x 7.33 months = $36.65 LTV
For a newsletter with a free AND paid publications, it's a tad more complicated. First, you'd calculate your average revenue per user (ARPU) by dividing month revenue by the total number of subscribers. Then, you'd calculate your churn rate and plug these figures into the equation above.
For example: 50 free users 10 paid users at $5 per month with a 3% churn rate = $50 / 60 users = $0.83 ARPU / 3% churn = $27.67 LTV per user
Finally, free newsletters' LTV can be calculated if you receive some sort of value from the publication, like ad revenue. This would be calculated by dividing the average monthly ad revenue by the number of subscribers and multiplying that by the average churn rate.
For example: 10,000 active users at $5,000 per month in ad revenue with a 3% churn rate = $5,000 / 10,000 users = $0.50 ARPU / 3% churn = $16.67 LTV per user
Of course, these metrics should be calculated on an ongoing basis so that you can understand how the value of your audience is changing over time!
Weekly Active Users (WAUs)
It refers to the number of readers who opened or clicked your newsletter in a week. This can be converted in to a percentage by dividing DAUs by your total number of subscribers.
It can be an insightful metric for newsletter creators that send out content daily.
Monthly Active Users (MAUs)
It refers to the number of readers who opened or clicked a newsletter in a month. This can be converted in to a percentage by dividing DAUs by your total number of subscribers.
It’s an insightful metric for newsletter creators that send out content weekly.
Dormant subscribers can vary per publication. For example, for a newsletter that sends 5x a week, you may consider someone who does not open a single email in 2 months to be dormant.
But for a newsletter that sends 2x a week, you may consider someone who does not open a single email in 4 months to be dormant.