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Month: November 2013

“Ack!! When should I tell my list?”

Here’s a question we’ve had a lot over the last few weeks. (Fellow blogger writer consultant types – have you noticed how these things tend to cluster? Is that just me?)

Somebody with a small to moderate following and a small to moderately popular blog has something happen in their personal life. Experience says this is almost always a divorce, but this month’s examples also include a pregnancy and a significant change in personal direction.

Because this event seems like – and in reality, often is – the biggest thing to happen in recent memory, we want to tell the people we know. This is what a few million years of living in tribes will do to you. When you get pregnant, every other cave woman wants to know why she hasn’t been told already.

When you run an online business, there’s a very good chance that a large part of your social interaction comes from the internet. The intimacy you have with your clients, your customers, and even your blog readers or newsletter subscribers often surpasses the intimacy you share with people you know locally.

Because of this, holding on to a “secret” feels… weird.

Adding to that, we are often pseudo-social with people, online or otherwise, in ways that are not particularly authentic. If you haven’t seen somebody around in a while, you’re likely to ask where they’ve been, regardless of whether or not you’re actually interested. We were raised to believe it is the polite thing to do.

You, to group: Hi.

Relative stranger in group: Oh my GOD!!! I haven’t seen you in forever! Where have you been? What’s going on?

If this is your best friend from high school, they probably do actually care about where you’ve been and what’s going on in your life. But in most cases, we say these things to people whether we have an affection for them or not. It’s a social contract.

Because of all of this, if you leave social media for a few days, or you stop blogging as frequently for a few months, you’re going to get emails or Facebook notifications that read something like this:

“Oh my GOD!!! I haven’t seen you in forever! Where have you been? What’s going on?”

As you go through this significant change in your life – your divorce, your crisis of faith, your infertility treatments and subsequent pregnancy, whatever – you’re going to get a handful of those emails. And then, the next time you and I are on the phone, you’re going to ask me…

“When should I tell my list?”

Here is the answer.

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“Help! My click through rate is going down!”

Help! My click through rate is going down!

A number of questions came up this week on the topic of open and click-through rates.

If you’re new, open rate refers to the percentage of people who open an email you send.

Click-through rate refers to the percentage of people who click on a link in that email.

First, and you need to be aware of this, both of these numbers are completely unreliable in any kind of absolute way. If your newsletter says your open rate is 50%, that’s not actually even kind of true. It cannot be accurately measured, no matter what song and dance routine your autoresponder software goes through to convince you otherwise.

The only reason we care about open rate and click-through rate is in a relative way. Are your open rates generally going down, going up, or staying the same?

Is your click-through rate is usually 4% but today it was 2%? Well, it looks like you missed the mark on today’s email.

Is it usually 4% but today it was 12%? More like this one, sweetie!

With me so far? Percentage rates = relative. Cool? Cool.

Now that’s all well and good, but it leads to a very natural problem.

If Monday’s click-through rate was 4% and Tuesday’s was 3% and Wednesday’s was 2% – that looks bad, right? Houston, we have a problem?

Well, yes and no.

Continue Reading…