I'll be the first to confess that words are my favorite currency.  When it comes to “doing the math,” things don't flow with as much ease.   I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and took more than my share of accounting, finance, and statistics courses.  Truth be told, math isn't intuitive for me.  There you have it — a revealing personal reflection that is now public knowledge.

In any case, I've been wondering about how to evaluate how things are going with my ezine list and how to better serve and build my community.   After listening to a few of Bill Baren's content-rich teleseminars on this topic, I learned something that I want to pass along to you — especially if you struggle with the math as I do.

Bill suggests that you figure out well your free opt-in gift is inviting new ezine subscribers.   Here are the steps to figure that out.

1)    Visit Google Analytics to learn how many people visited your site within the last month, year, or other time period you specify.

2)     Your ezine software provider probably sends you updated subscriber notices regularly to tell you how many people have joined or unsubscribed from your list and how many people total are part of this list.    My regular reports from Constant Contact make it easy for me to figure out the extent to which my list is growing.  I took a moment to “do the math” on list growth from January 2010 through January 2011 .    The list is growing, but the speed of growth isn't much to write home about.

3)      I divided the number of new opt-ins earned for the year by 12 months to get a monthly total.   This will help me set stretch goals for how I want to grow the list by month as the year unfolds.

4)     Then, I divided that total of new opt-ins for the year by the number of visits to my site for a year according to Google Analytics  to get the conversion ratio achieved with my free gift.   To tell you the absolute truth, this number gives me serious pause.   It's not very compelling.  Not by a long shot.

Is there room to improve.  Heck yes.  Am I going to think long and hard about the specifics of how I can make progress?  You bet!  Am I going to seek out input and guidance from people who know more about this than I do?  Absolutely.

Doing this exercise is a wake-up call that offers either a gut check or a cause for celebration.  Either way, it reinforces a truism that I've heard often from people who are far more accomplished in business than I am.  They say, “What gets measured gets managed.”    I've done the measuring.  Now it's time to manage through strategic, thoughtful action, fueled by a sincere commitment to improve and be of better service to those who opt-in to benefit from my ezine.

However far we've come in our businesses, there is always so much more to do to improve.

Your Calls to Action:

1) Do this exercise with your own list to take the temperature about how well your list is growing and set intentions about how you are going to move ahead to improve the rate of growth.

2)  If you are among my ezine subscribers, sound off and tell me what you like, dislike, and want more of.  I promise, my ego is at the door, and I'll make changes to serve you better.  You can comment here at the blog or send me a private message to nancy@nsjmktg.com.   I'd really like to hear from you.