Email Newsletters NOT helpful? Are we getting false positives?

I recently read a post on Web Worker Daily that talked about 5 things that will improve your website traffic and one that will not.

The one that will not was touted as email newsletters.

According to the article...

6. Forget about email newsletters. Bishop said problems with spam filters and firewalls are making this web site staple a waste of time. “You’d be better off having a blog that you put newsletter-type content in and have people subscribe to it with an RSS feed.

What about those newsletter sites that promise to do everything possible to make sure your email gets delivered? Bishop said just because a newsletter delivery report has few rejections, that doesn’t mean the email is getting through to the subscriber. “They don’t measure it the right way,  she said. “I do test studies. Most firewalls won’t give you the courtesy of a bounce-back. It’ll look like it went through, but it gets stopped at the firewall.

I am a Campaign Monitor customer and have been for about a year.

So this begs the question.

How accurate are the stats we are getting?

Are we getting false positives?

What say you?

Thanks for any enlightenment.


Mathew Mathew, 10 years ago

Hey Berchman,

Good post. It's definitely true that in some cases, servers can block certain emails without bouncing them. By definition, it is not possible to measure except at the individual receiving mail server level. However, we do have delivery monitoring systems in place, that can absolutely confirm that our emails are being delivered to inboxes.

Having a blog does not preclude having an email newsletter - they can have different purposes, or be complementary to each other. Although as web designers we are very familiar with RSS, it is still very much a niche technology, not well known outside tech circles.

Delivery is definitely a big issue, and that's why we spend a lot of time working at ensuring it, but to describe email newsletters as a waste of time is completely wrong - we have thousands of customers getting great results from their email campaigns.

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Dave Dave, 10 years ago

Berchman, I'd like to echo Mat's points and also add a few of my own. If you check out the comments to that post you'll notice that most of the readers disagree with his point about email newsletters. If you're looking for more proof on just how effective email can be when done correctly, check out these case studies and success stories.

In regards to false positives, it's certainly true that it's impossible to know if everyone is reading your email. However, in our case it's actually the reverse, you'll get some false negatives. What I mean by this is that there will always be plenty of people that open and read your newsletter that we don't report on because their email client blocks images - which is how we measure an open.

So, in this sense, we actually undersell the value you're getting from email in terms of the number of subscribers that opened it. That article couldn't be further from the truth.

berchman berchman, 10 years ago

Mathew and Dave,

Thank you both for your replies.

I suspected that the issues of delivery and verification are a constant "cat and mouse" game on your end. Filters improve, your methods improve, over and over again. :-)

I would disagree with the original post and say that email newsletters ARE effective. I do see value in using them as a way of helping build business and inform people interested in what you have to offer. I have had success with mine and have gotten positive feedback. People are opening, reading, AND clicking!

I just wanted to see if I could get someone's professional opinion with relation to email newsletter delivery and reporting. I know very little of the underlying mass-email technology and knew that you guys would chime in on this topic.

I find the issue of "false negatives" really interesting and see how its plausible. Never thought of that one before.

Thanks for your insights.


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