Like most Washington institutions, one of my clients compiles and distributes various daily “clips” reports. These emails summarize the previous day’s news coverage, link to articles that quote a staffer, highlight our social media hits, and so on. Indeed, these internal emails are so valued that the organization distributes several of them, which sometimes overlap.
And yet, no one was tracking any of this; we assumed that because Very Important People were receiving these emails, the emails were Very Important. In one case, when we attempted to introduce a tracking mechanism, so we could see, at a minimum, the open and click-through rates, we encountered pushback. The current system worked, we were told; and it took a lot of time to get it where it was. Moreover, the email was a source of pride and turf, and making even small changes required layers of approval.
In another case, we shifted a daily report from a simple distribution list to an email marketing service, MailChimp. This allowed us to see exactly who was—and who wasn’t—opening the emails, and the results were eye-opening: people claimed to value the reports, but few were actually reading them, let alone clicking on their links. These insights fueled the argument to ultimately shut down this particular report.
Addendum (7/29/2013): Success!