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The Marketability eBulletin

Our free resources currently comprise the fortnightly eBulletin, and a searchable archive of almost 1000 original articles that have been edited and archived for their continuing relevance.

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 3 March 2015. In this issue:

Free Email Marketing Benchmark Report from

This fascinating survey of relative performance by sector is based on 1bn emails sent on behalf of’s clients in 2014. This year’s stats point to publishing making significant strides forward in engagement. Here’s a quick analysis:

  • The average open rate (across all sectors) is up from 22.87% to 24.45%. However, the increase in email access on mobile devices, on which images are downloaded by default, may account for this or even mask a decline.
  • Publishing’s open rate is 22.62%, no change from 2013’s data (reported January 2014) but a fall against the latest overall average of 24.45.
  • The average click-through rate in 2014 was 3.13% (this figure consistent with those of the Direct Marketing Association in the UK), a decline from 3.26% the previous year. Publishing bucked the trend, however, clocking up 3.45%. This saw ‘us’ rocket up the league table to 5th highest performing sector.
  • Click-to-open rates continue to decline, from 14.25% in 2013 to 10.79% last year. Publishing shows a reverse trend, however, and now ranks only behind the public sector and online services of all sectors surveyed, with a CTO rate of 13.33%, slightly up on 2013. This is a hugely significant metric as it measures how many of the people who open then choose to click – ie: as a direct result of the content.
  • Just to be clear, the standard CTR (ie: 3.45% for publishers) applies to all emails delivered, a percentage of which will be deleted without opening. CTO strips these out, so the content performs on merit.
  • Publishing’s unsubscribe rate is astonishingly good, at 0.25%, beaten only by the public sector (and against an average of 0.53), and our unsubscribe to open rate is similarly impressive and also dropping.
The signs are that publishing is succeeding in increasing engagement, indicating that our content (ie: relevancy) is improving. Clearly our audiences do value our arrival in their inbox. However what is harder to pin down is the percentage of ‘graymail’, emails that aren’t opened or acted on, even to unsubscribe, by recipients who are disengaged. This, of course, is measured by ISPs and contributes to our user reputation and ultimately to delivery.

Download’s excellent report for yourself.

You can also read our analyses of previous reports (and follow links to the reports themselves), just click on the ‘search the archive’ button on the left and search on ‘’.

Our Email Marketing Workshop is the place to be for more like this.


What will have the biggest impact on scholarly publishing in 2015?

Scholarly Kitchen introduces this thought-provoking blog post as follows:

‘According to the Chefs, we’re looking at a year of mergers and acquisitions, the continuing growth of open access both in number of opportunities and in scale, the publication of data and objects (like multimedia, application code, etc.), and more start-ups.’

All of which is hard to argue with, but the full post consisting of a dozen opinions and a selection of interesting comments is definitely worth reading if this is your sector.

Read on the Scholarly Kitchen website.

Our Academic Marketing Workshop is a great way of learning about the higher education sector and how other publishers are responding to the challenges.


Top 8 tips for persuasive marketing plans

This is my personal top 8, how might it differ from yours?


  1. All plans should have objectives/specific goals which should be articulated and never assumed (how will you remember your assumptions when you look back later?). And no, ‘to achieve the maximum number of sales’ doesn’t count, it’s too vague.
  2. Identify your USP/key messages designed to recognise and deliver on the needs of your audience. Always true whether marketing an online platform or an individual textbook. If you’re in trade publishing and your readers don’t ‘need’ the book(s) you still need to identify why they’re distinctive, or they’ll sink without trace.
  3. Plan what’s right for your audience, NOT for you and your product. Choose the channels and timing that work for them. (Eg: don’t automatically market at the time of publication!)
  4. Always start with what’s easy – activities/networks of the author, buyers of previous titles, in-house emailing lists, influential contacts.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, plans should use more than one channel, especially if your primary activity is untested.
  6. Make your plans achievable. Being ambitious may impress, but if you can’t deliver then your credibility is shot. Concentrate on selling why your realistic plans are also the most effective.
  7. Plan to measure, don’t just jump in with a campaign and hope that you’ll be able to analyse response later. That also means including details of numbers and costs for all activities as well as recommending the means by which you will measure success. In other words, think ROI and business proposition as a matter of course when writing plans. Ensuring that the scale of the plan/effort is appropriate for the revenue targets for the product is part of this too.
  8. Don’t construct marketing plans in Excel. Sure it makes calculating the budget easier, but marketing plans NEED narrative to be meaningful. An enormous spreadsheet with too many fields to scan/print out is just too unwieldy for everyday use. Plans in Word and budgets in Excel are much more manageable, and printable.
Our Impressive Marketing Plans on a Small Budget training workshop expands on the above and delivers plenty of guidance on putting the principles into practice.

If you have a tip to add, or want to disagree, be my guest, I’d love you to! Add a comment on The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • Have your say on my ‘8 essential tips for marketing planning’.
  • The reaction to Eddie Redmayne’s Oscars speech should remind us that if we want to win trust and respect then being genuine is about as important as it gets.
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

Visit The Marketability Grapevine


Tip of the week: How to make sure your reports get read

Let me speculate. You receive a report from a colleague in your inbox. You either a) scan it quickly to get a sense of what it covers and how much effort will be involved in reading it, or b) move it to a folder labelled ‘reading’ (where it stays until you delete it). Quite probably you do both. But what makes you read something immediately? Answer: if it’s short, dead easy, and entertaining.

If you relate to this as a recipient, consider how your last report might have fared. You already know the tip without me spelling it out.

Report-writing is copywriting too! Our Copywriting Workshop runs in central London on 26 March, and is also our most popular tailored in-company training course.


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Tel +44 (0)20 8977 2741