Most Affiliate Newsletters Never Get Opened

Posted on6 CommentsCategoriesAffiliate Program Management

Not many affiliate networks provide you with such data as an open rate for your outgoing affiliate correspondence (such as approval emails or newsletters), and this is really unfortunate. Commission Junction does provide merchants/advertisers with such important information as a part of the Email Campaigns reporting:

CJ Email Campaigns Tab

Looking at the data for the last five pieces of email correspondence we sent out for one of our clients I see the following picture:

CJ Email Stats - Delivered vs Opened

Ok, let’s presuppose that the number will double if plain text messages were taken into the calculation as well. Our total would then be 2,500. This still looks like a staggering number to me. Apparently only between 17.65% (1,250) and 35.3% (2,500) of this particular program’s affiliates are opening the email messages (mostly newsletters) that I am sending to them. The rest must either be deleting them without opening, or receiving them at email account that they never check.

This brings my thoughts back to the question of affiliate activation. Is it even possible to get 100% (or 80%, or even 50%) of the affiliates aboard any given affiliate program to become active? If so, how when they are not interested in hearing from you? Both of these are, of course, rhetoric questions.

6 thoughts on “Most Affiliate Newsletters Never Get Opened

  1. Great point, Geno. Affiliate newsletters, though, while still very important, are probably not as important as they once were. There are now many other viable and sometimes even preferred communication options like IM, Twitter, and Facebook to name a few. Other useful options include automated RSS feeds, web services, and even API interactions. And then there are the good old fashioned telephone calls.

    I use most of the above methods which means sometimes I don’t open the latest newsletters (if they are only the latest links) — chances are very high I’ve already published that content since the automated methods we use are generally faster than traditional email newsletters anyway.

    My advice for affiliate managers is to use all the communication methods at their disposal. Some will work for some affiliates while others will work for other affiliates. The point is to make sure the communicated message is important and heard one way or the other.

    As an aside, I know affiliate managers likewise don’t read all the email messages they receive from affiliates. And I have the numbers to prove it. 🙂

  2. You must be a mind reader Geno. Good information to know as I draft my first newsletter. Makes me curious as to the possible difference in opens if you (me or another merchant) abandoned the potentially over used title of “newsletter” and went with something a little different. i.e. Affiliate Announcements, Affiliate Overview, Affiliate Connection…or is “Newsletter” an industry standard term that should remain a constant in monthly communications with affiliates?

  3. Interesting observation.

    Actually our affiliate newsletter open rate fits right in with your estimate, between 17.65% and 35.3%.

    In all honesty, there are a several affiliate programs that I am active with that I simply ( sometimes ) don’t open newsletters for unless the headline is something that is very interesting to me. Time is the major factor for me.

    I have observed that when major changes to our program are announced, our open rates jumps dramatically, which means the affiliates are reading the subject lines and choosing, based on the topic, if they are going to read or not.

  4. Mike, thank you for chiming in. Yes, affiliate program managers shouldn’t rely 100% on newsletters, and use alternative channels of communication. You’ve mentioned phone. Most affiliates I know are alergic to phone calls. Out of all communication methods out there (phone, email, Twitter, IMs, forums, etc) which would you say is the most preferable for you?

    Lisa, you know what? It’s worth A/B testing things with different subject lines, and seeing which open best. I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t done this (always been using the [Month] [Year] [Merchant] Affiliate Newsletter” format), and would love to hear about your experience if you do decide to do the testing.

    Ron, thank you for your comments too. Yes, we should all be working on improving those subject lines. What would make a really enticing subject line (apart from “TOS Changes” and alike) for you as an affiliate?

  5. Anything that was a change or addition to the function or usability of the product I was promoting would be very interesting and cause me to immediately read the email.

    Something new that I could learn about and use as content for my promotions would definitely be enticing!

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