Survey says quality over quantity: Key takeaways from our subscribers

An inside look at Emma's newsletter survey results

If we had to sum up all of our email marketing expertise in one sentence, it would probably be, “Get to know your subscribers!”. It’s something you’ve heard us say in our blog posts, newsletters, and guides, and, now that we think about it, we definitely need team t-shirts that say it, too. 

Listening to your audience really is something we’re incredibly passionate about, simply because it works. Viewing your marketing strategy as a flexible 2-way communications plan is 
the best way to meet your subscribers exactly where they are with the information they need. 

But don’t just take our word for it—We’ll show you. This month, we conducted our very own newsletter survey to better understand what our subscribers love the most, but also what they could do without. Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the first step of Emma’s newsletter refresh process. We hope this will inspire you to kick off your own survey process and start sending emails fueled by your subscribers’ preferences.

The goal

While we aim to put our subscribers first in everything we do, it became clear in our newsletter review meetings that we were maybe making too many assumptions about our audience. Did they really want to receive marketing tips from us every week? Were we sending them too many blog articles, or just enough? Are we delivering on our promises? To find answers to these questions, we decided to go directly to the source. 

The goal of this survey was to collect data to power future decisions about our newsletter’s send frequency, content, and design

The survey

We linked a Get Feedback survey within two editions of our regular newsletter, but you could also do this with something as simple as Google Forms. We found 4-5 questions to be the sweet spot for engagement, and we were sure to use specific language to get the most concise answers. 

Topic 1: Frequency

Goal: How often should we send our newsletter?

We asked: What is your ideal cadence for receiving email marketing tips and content pieces?Once a month: 34%; Twice a month: 43%, Once a week: 23%

Takeaway: We’re choosing quality over quantity. Rather than send a newsletter every week, we’re now going to send two emails per month, choosing only the most relevant content for our audience. (If you’re a subscriber, you can expect this new cadence to happen on the second and fourth weeks of the month, beginning in November!)

Topic 2: Content

Goal: How can we maximize value through the resources we share? 

We asked: Which content topics are you most interested in? 

Content creation: 56%; Email design: 64%; Email strategy: 74%; Marketing analytics: 40%; Interviews with our team: 8%; Insights from industry experts: 37%

Takeaway: Asking this question made our lives so much easier! Rather than guessing which content our subscribers will love and measuring analytics after it’s published, we loved hearing the topics readers are most interested in, and, thankfully, they’re also things we really love talking about. Look out for more email strategy, design, and content creation blog posts coming to the blog and newsletter soon!

Goal: How many links should we share per send?

We asked: How many links to content pieces do you prefer within a single newsletter?

Takeaway: We’re so glad we asked this question! Again, this supports our move to choose quality over quantity, and our team will be spending more time developing thorough and thoughtful resources on the topics our audience expressed interest in, rather than aiming to produce a blog post every day. 

Topic 3: Industry

Goal: How can we make our sends more relevant to our subscribers’ work?

We asked: Which industry do you fall into?

The most popular industries were:

Technology, higher education, self-employed, nonprofit, retail

Takeaway: While Emma serves industries of all kinds, we admit that we tend to gear our resources to those that our product works especially well with, like higher education. But acknowledging that our customer base is different from our marketing subscribers list, we aimed to learn which industries our readers fall into, and the varied results surprised us! We love that our subscribers are in so many different fields, and it’s given us fresh inspiration for future sends.

Topic 4: What else? 

Goal: If our subscribers were in charge of our newsletter, what would they do? 

Finally, we asked our subscribers “What changes would make you look forward to receiving our newsletter in your inbox?.” Here’s what’s on their wishlists:

“Things I can pass on to junior communicators to help them craft better email strategies, how to create a content strategy, how to adapt to analytics and better serve your audience, how to use data points to make changes to your approach, the importance of less is more (Fewer, better emails...There was an article on this recently and I really appreciated it!)”

Takeaway: We love being able to picture exactly how marketing teams are using our newsletter, and will keep this in mind as we create future content. And there it is again: That less-is-more theme!

“Infographics and other content that is easy to share with my team to keep them up to date on best practices”

Takeaway: This is a specific request that our creative team loves to hear. As we plan content for the upcoming months, we’ll think about resources that can be easily shared amongst teams or kept at your desk for reference. 

“Answer subscriber questions, like ‘What's the best method for building an email mailing list?’”

Takeaway: If you’re on our subscriber list already, you know that we sometimes do a “Dear Emma” advice column theme to answer email marketing-related questions. We’ve been looking for a way to pivot this to fit the new format, and we think this reader has a great idea for sourcing more of these questions from our subscribers. 

“Information on what other marketing departments are experiencing and how they are overcoming these challenges”

Takeaway: We’ve recently focused on producing more customer case studies, so we’re really excited to hear this! Our team loves seeing what other marketing departments are doing, and we’re thrilled to know it’s something our readers are interested in seeing, too. 

“Fewer articles per email—I get overwhelmed with multiples I want to read, so I put them aside to read later and sometimes they fall to the bottom of the email pile.”

Takeaway: We definitely can relate to inbox overwhelm! Not only does this request align with the overall data trends, but it’s also another reminder to focus on content quality and continue to produce unforgettable resources our readers will want to come back to. 

Wrap up

Over the next few weeks, our team will be implementing the decisions made through the data found in our newsletter survey. We feel confident moving forward with a posture of listening to our audience, and we’re excited to see what comes of our upcoming newsletter shifts. Haven’t subscribed to our marketing tips and tricks newsletter? You can do that here.

About the Author

Kaitlin Wernet is a content specialist on Emma's marketing team. When she's not restraining herself from using too many exclamation points or grabbing one more La Croix from the office kitchen, she can be found working on her first book or planning her next big travel adventure.

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