All of these lists were around 5-10% higher at the start of the year,
but we’ve finally started cleaning them to remove dud and inactive
subscribers, which was long overdue. The first phase of this was
implementing a new email tool (which we completed in April) which
finally syncs data real time with our main activist database.
We implemented such a tool in mid-2004, and had to watch our list
“shrink” a lot that year as the bouncers were removed. About 20 percent
of our list was bouncing. Of course, these weren’t real recipients any
way, so it was good to see the real numbers.
the help of xxxxxxxxxx, we did some work looking at how active our
activists actually are and the results were pretty scary. We found that
more than 50% of the people on our core list have only ever taken 1
action or less, which almost made me fall off my chair when I read it!
So the next stage for us is to look at how we can re-engage these people
(interestingly many of them still receive and open emails we send) or
remove them from our lists altogether So I would expect that our main
list may well decrease by say 20% of its current level before it begins
to actually ‘grow’ again.
It’s amazing what results you can get with that kind of data mining.
Even with the bouncers removed, another 20 percent of our list is
inactive – never opened a message or clicked on a link since
registration. I’m not sure why … Perhaps the messages are being
diverted by spam filters.
More dramatically, I looked at the participation in our discussion forum
(sadly now closed). There were about 55 thousand comments, which sounds
impressive. About half of these were anonymous and another half from
people who logged in.
Of the 25 thousand logged-in comments, a quarter were posted by just 10
people! Another quarter were posted by 22 people. So half the
non-anonymous comments on our discussion forum were posted by only 32
people – people who obviously had a lot of time on their hands.
Most discussion participants only posted one or two comments. So it
became obvious that the vast majority of our activists are not really
interested in a full discussion – they just want to comment on something
from time to time. They don’t want to get into a prolonged debate.
So if I was going to restore GRozzo discussions, I think that I
would implement something more like the BBC “Have Your Say”,
One result of this bulk of inactive people is that our response rates
suffer heavily as a result (around 10% on average last year) which is
way below what we’d normally expect. One good piece of news here,
however, is the open and click rates are now heading up towards 20%,
mainly due to some of the clean up work and various small changes we’ve
made to the email designs. So we will be looking at making more design
tweaks etc. over the coming months to nudge these figures up further.
Out of interest, what would you say is your average result for an
action which you include in your main newsletter? We are normally
getting between 8-15 thousands activists taking each action, depending
on the issue. I’d expect your’s would be much higher bearing in mind the
Not that much higher.
For a really good ezine, we get a 30% open, a 50% clickthrough and a 85%
followthrough rate (people who actually did the action). So that is:
200000 x .3 x .5 x .85 = 25500
That’s a very good response. A poor response might be half of that – a
typical one in-between.
We’ve learned quite a bit about improving the clickthrough rate. By now
I can almost guess what it will be by looking at the ezine layout. But I
have had less luck improving the open rate. Even the most dramatic
subject line I ever wrote: “GRozzo whale activists in danger” only
increased the open rate by about 5 percent. It almost seems like the
open rate decays like a radioactive material – mailing lists have half
lifes, just like uranium. Our newer lists have open rates higher than 60
percent and our older lists drop towards 20%.
As the specific people who open a message vary from mailing to mailing
(it may be 30% but not always the *same* 30%), the best suggestion I’ve
heard is to remail a slightly modified version of an action a few weeks
later to people who did not open the last one.
Mails are currently sent in English only, although our main activist
web site is available in 8 or so languages. We hit the resource wall
unfortunately, so emails in different languages were never possible. We
are now looking at testing emails in some key languages such as
Brazilian Portuguese to see what kind of response we get and if that
works then try and do more in the future. But at the same time we will
scale back some of the overall online language support to focus on fewer
languages so we can manage them more effectively. This will be done as
part of a bigger change to GRozzo which we are planning at some point
My sense is that GRozzo-2 (our list with 30 segments and 11
languages) is likely to be abandoned as an interesting failure that
never attracted enough support from our national and regional offices
and cost too much for professional translation and internal staff time.
So next year, we will likely return to English only. But I’m not sure yet.