Email Newsletters can be a bit creepy.

A lot of people don't realize how much tracking happens when you send an email newsletter.

Although it's less invasive than the tracking associated with social media use/posting, it's still quite a surprise to many people who are just starting their own newsletters. 

In this episode, I share advice about how I think about these numbers and which ones I use to inform my writing. It doesn't have to be weird, and I think it's important to be informed and to think critically about whether and how you want to use any tracking data. 


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Episode 45 | The creepiness factor when you send email newsletters - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, hi there. Welcome to in the clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I'm a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist, and in this podcast I share little tips and tidbits that might be interesting or helpful for other practitioners.

Today I want to talk to you about the creepiness factor for those of you who have email newsletters as part of your practices. Before I do that, I just want to mention that if you are a regular listener, you may have heard me say last week that I'm doing a challenge which was going to involve me creating podcast episodes multiple times a week for the next month or two and unfortunately, best laid plans. I got COVID last week. You might hear that my voice is still a little bit scratchy, but I had to take some time off to rest and recuperate and just kind of get through that as best as I could. So I'm back. I'm probably going to stick to about three a week for a little while while I continue to rest and recover. But thank you for your patience during that time. Maybe we'll do another podcast episode some other time about COVID and what happened there. But anyway, today's topic is actually having to do with email newsletters. So you may not know this if you don't have an email newsletter for your practice or your business, but when you have an email newsletter and you're using one of these main services like MailChimp or Mail or Light, or ConvertKit or whatever it is that you're using.

Part of the service that you're getting with these things, whether you're doing the free plan or the paid plans, is that they are giving you analytics from your emails that you send out. And those analytics typically include an open rate, which is how many people open the message, but they also get more detailed in many cases where they will say, oh, here's how many people clicked on each of the links. In your message. And here's exactly who clicked on the links and when they clicked on it and how many times they clicked on it. And let me tell you, before I had my own, I had no idea that these types of things were being tracked in that way. And it felt a little bit invasive to me when I realized that I could see all this information about people, especially because I think of the people on my email list as colleagues, and I don't like the idea of it's not exactly spying on them, but it kind of is. So the reason this came up is I actually got a message from somebody just a couple of weeks ago who has recently started her practice, didn't want to be on social media, decided to have an email newsletter, went through the first couple and then was like, whoa, this is kind of creepy.

Yeah, it is. So I thought maybe it would be helpful for me to share some of the way that I approach this with other people in case this is something that's come up before. Now before I launch into some thoughts on this, I do want to mention that I don't recommend not having an email newsletter in the sense of like, oh well, you could just email everybody instead of doing it through a service. The reason for that is because it's illegal. You can't just be emailing people randomly about their business unless they have signed up and you have a record of it, et cetera. Which means you need to go through one of these services if this is going to be a major part of your business. It's fine to email people one on one individually if you're like, oh, hey, I haven't had an appointment in a while. But you can't do group emails with newsletters or sales or promotions or anything like that unless you have some of these formal pieces in place. So a couple of things to think about number one, depending on which service you have, you may be able to disenable.

I'm not sure that's a word, but anyway, you might be able to turn off some of the tracking features in it. I believe they all look at open rates, but there's certain ones. For example, I believe one called button down is specifically designed so that it doesn't you can turn off or opt out of a lot of the tracking mailer. Light does have the option to disable a certain amount of tracking, although it still has. I believe you can't opt out of open rates. So you can certainly look around for an email newsletter service that gives you more flexibility in what you can and cannot track. Some of these unfortunately, do have some limitations. For example, I believe the button down one I looked at and I thought about using it, but it doesn't allow you to segment. For example, I have like a bunch of different opt in things or I want to tag people who have come to certain events and send only them messages and you can't really get that granular as far as I found with most of these services that have more of a privacy focus. So what to do if you are already using one and you're like this is kind of weird.

Well, there's a couple of things. Number one is you can only look at top level analytics. So usually they will show you statistics at sort of a bigger level just as like oh, how many people that you sent it to opened this, that'll be a percentage. And then it might say how many people clicked on something and that'll be a percentage. And usually it's going to be like 20% opened it and then 2% clicked on it. Something in those ranges plus or minus depending on how big your newsletter is and so on and so forth. So that can be helpful feedback and personally I don't feel as weird about that because I think it gives me valuable information in terms of what's working for my readers, what kinds of things people are interested in, and so forth. So I do look at those types of statistics. I try to wait at least 24 hours before I look at them. So I find that a lot of people, that's basically when the numbers are going to settle out. So I don't refresh and see like who's clicked on it now and who's clicked on it now.

I just send out my message, then I'll wait about 24 hours and then I'll look at the statistics to see if there's any valuable feedback for me. So sometimes you'll notice that, oh, there's certain topics where people pretty much always open those emails and then there are certain links that people will click on, then there's certain times where people will unsubscribe. And this is not necessarily meaning that you should change anything, but it does just help you understand. So I'll give you an example, which is at any time in my newsletter I mentioned anything about being pro COVID vaccine or pro abortion people unsubscribe. Which is fine, because those aren't my people. More than happy for people to unsubscribe and find some other support in other places that are perhaps more in line with their beliefs and values and what have you. But so it doesn't mean I'm going to stop talking about those things or stop bringing them in. It's just for me, it's like a helpful way to make sure that I'm writing to people who are interested in the types of things that I have to say and so forth. So I don't necessarily recommend doing anything about it immediately, but in the big picture, over time, let's say like six months or a year, you can get some interesting information from those types of numbers.

What I try not to do is to click through and find out specifically which people clicked on this link. I find that invasive. I don't really love the idea of people doing that to me, so I don't do that. It's your choice. The data is there depending on which service you're using, but you can choose not to look at it. So that's typically what I do. The other thing that I will note, and a lot of people don't realize this, but many email services actually block some of those trackers. So the open rate, for example, might be a little bit low because if people are using an email service where they block trackers, it won't show up that they opened the email and that won't register for you. So I know, for example, one of the email addresses that I use has tracking block eight blocked. And so I've tested this with people where it shows up on their end that I have not seen or opened their email. And in fact I have. And sometimes I get messages about, hey, you haven't opened our email. Would you like to unsubscribe? Or we're unsubscribing you?

And I'm like, oh, no, it's just the trackers that are blocking it. So the numbers are not perfect, and you can assume that they're usually a little bit lower. At least the open rates are a little bit lower because of a number of people do have those privacy blockers or tracking features. unenabled. Again, not a word. But anyway, we're just going to let that go. All right, so that's my approach to the weird, creepy statistics that are found in the email newsletter. Tracking, I think just keep it to the global numbers and try to avoid going into the data for the specifics. There are people out there who are using them. For example, if you notice that these ten people clicked on the link to buy your offer but never actually bought it, they might send them a special email. That's like encouraging them or asking if they want to set up a private one on one discovery call or whatever. I haven't done that. Again, I feel a little bit weird about getting to that granular level of data collection and tracking people, but that is a strategy that's out there and I did want to mention it.

So anyway, hopefully that was enlightening for you. If you have any questions about this or other things, please do let me know. I'd love to answer your questions. Like I said, I've got a bunch of podcast episodes coming up, so I'm in the market for topics, and if there's anything you want me to talk about, please send it my way. All right, have a wonderful day and I will talk to you.

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