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Because incremental improvement matters [Your comms metrics]

We recently published the 2017/18 Granicus Benchmark Report: Mapping an Effective Digital Strategy to enable you to measure your organisations’ comms performance metrics, compare them with industry benchmarks, and identify areas for improvement.

The report focuses on the UK public sector, breaking down the data for local vs central government organisations, as well as London councils, internal comms across the sector, and fire and rescue teams.

You’ll also find global public sector metrics which take into account over 1.4 million emails sent to 9.8 billion addresses from 3,000+ public sector organisations, plus comparisons with the private and not-for-profit sector.

Here is a summary of the metrics that matter and how you can determine what strategies are working for your organisation and which need adjusting to improve the impact of your B2C and B2B email communications.


The ‘Big Five’ metrics:


  1. Engagement rate measures the number of unique email recipients who opened an email or clicked on a link in an email over a period of 90 days. That number is divided by the total number of email recipients who received an email during that time period. It is a good indication of your email comms’ general “health” and audience interest.
  2. Open rate is the total number of recipients who opened the bulletin divided by the total number of people who received it. It can be improved by A/B testing subject lines, being timely and relevant with your messages, and by optimising send times and “from” names.
  3. Click rate is the total number of people who clicked in a bulletin divided by the number of people who received it. Analysing the click rate allows you to measure and optimise the effectiveness of your calls to action, design features, language, message length and content strategy, and hyperlink position/visibility.
  4. Subscriptions per subscriber measures the average number of topics each subscriber is signed up to. It’s an indication of how well you’re presenting and cross-promoting subscription options, and citizens’ awareness of / level of interest in your various services.
  5. Overlay impact measures the total number of subscribers who signed up through your website overlay (a box that appears for new website visitors) divided by the total number of subscribers who opted-in directly (i.e. not via a mailing list upload). For example, an overlay impact of 100% means your web overlay is capturing double the number of new subscribers than all your other direct sign-up mechanisms (e.g. hyperlinks and buttons across your digital real estate).

Moving your metrics up the scale

Improving comms metrics indicates that you’re nurturing and sustaining an engaged audience. Your subscribers are therefore more likely to respond to your campaigns/initiatives in the desired way. Strong performance boosts your chances of warning, informing, educating, inspiring, and moving audiences to action; and equipping citizens with the knowledge and understanding they need to take the right action will ultimately help improve your programme outcomes.

Here are some tips to help you improve your comms performance:

Engagement rate:

  • Know your audience and what they want and expect from you.
  • Focus on your audience’s needs and avoid cluttering your messages with extra stuff that does not align with their interests.
  • Keep your messages concise. You only have a few seconds to capture and keep attention, so get straight to your main message.
  • Test everything you are sending to optimise messaging and design elements for each audience. Incremental improvements could be the difference between 10 people getting the help they need and 1,000.

Open rate:

  • Segment your audience to ensure your message addresses their personal needs. Relevancy is absolutely essential.
  • Keep the subject line simple and below 54 characters to increase opens.
  • Use a ‘hook’ (but avoid clichés) and be timely to pique the interest of your audience.
  • A/B test subject lines to see what drives the highest opens.

Click rate:

  • Use an obvious call to action button instead of hyperlinking text. Use verbs in the imperative to make it as clear and easy as possible for readers to act on your message: “Register here”, “Book an appointment”, “Complete the survey”.
  • Identify popular content by monitoring click-throughs and repurpose this content in subsequent communications, where relevant.
  • Prioritise your calls to action in your message and avoid trying to cram too many into a single email. Always lead with your main message.

Subscriptions per subscriber:

  • Organise your topic list and make sure you are only offering options that are still relevant. We recommend a topic audit at least once a year. Name your topics carefully to avoid any confusion.
  • Use plain language instead of government jargon – consider how your audience would express something.
  • Send a welcome message to new subscribers and cross-promote other relevant topics they’re likely to also be interested in. Run re-engagement campaigns to reactivate ‘sleepy’ subscribers.

Overlay impact:

  • If key people in your organisation are reluctant to implement an overlay, prove it first on an internal landing page instead of the homepage. There are different types of overlay and some are more discrete than others. Track how well it does (it will do REALLY well), then make the case for adding it on the homepage and elsewhere.
  • Keep it simple and avoid putting too many question fields in the overlay.
  • Be deliberate about when the overlay should show and for whom (first-time visitors only perhaps?).

Now dive into your account performance reports in the GovDelivery Communications Cloud to see how your metrics compare with others. Download the 2017/18 Granicus Benchmark Report: Insights for Mapping and Effective Digital Strategy.

Want to improve your performance metrics? Please contact your account manager or email