GREAT STAT: The Value of an Email Subscriber is £1.51 and it’s the same for social media too

7531926016_de54e72dab_oA while back I helped with some comms planning for a web project that aimed to link members of the community with groups and clubs in their area.

There were more than half a dozen around the table. On the face of it, I quietly reflected that this was worthy but what was the point?

My misgivings were answered by a bright community worker. He told the story of a hypothetical man aged 66 who had just lost his wife. He may start drinking. He may start getting ill and see his GP. He may start being a nuisance to neighbours and the housing authority and police may get involved. All of this costs the taxpayer spiralling amounts of money. Suddenly, the project came alive. We could attach a financial value to the benefit it brought.

“Oh no,” another voice around the table said. “We would never work that out. That’s not what we do.”

But it’s the voice of the bright spark we need to listen to and the naysayer we don’t.

I’ve blogged before that we need to look finance in the eye. We absolutely need to justify what we do and using pounds shillings and pence.

Now, a massively useful tool is with us. The download ‘Measuring the Financial Value of a Subscriber’ has been published by Govdelivery at the Public Sector Communications conference in London. They’ve worked with respected communications consultant and academic Guy Dominy to work out the value of an email subscriber. The figures and approach, they say, translate to social media too.

Dominy nails it in the opening paragraph:

“The demand for financial accountability is now more than ever before one that public sector communications can no longer afford to ignore. This means we must not only be able to say exactly what we are investing in our communications but we must also place a financial value on the impact of our communications.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Forget likes, sign-ups and shares. The real test of how effective your communications is what people have done as a result. This is what AMEC’s Barcelona Principles addresses. After research, the Govdelivery whitepaper shows the value of an email subscriber is £1.51. That calculates the benefit to the individual, the organisation and society in general.

Here are some numbers to think on

Weather warnings – Every death on the roads costs £2 million, serious injury £200,000 and minor injury £23,000. They’re Department for Transport figures. So reducing this figure saves drivers, fire, police and NHS staff.

FOI – costs local government £35.5 million in staff time with 121,000 requests costing £293 each. Better communications to keep people informed can reduce this.

Children in care – the cost of sending children into the private sector can cost more than £120,000. The cost of fostering in-house can be less than £30,000.

They’re three of the hundreds of things that government – local or central – does but dig and you have numbers attached. Dominy argues that there is value in that:

“Conceptually, you multiply the probability a subscriber will carry out a particular action by the financial value of that action. If a subscriber has a one in ten chance of doing something that is worth £1,000 to you, that subscriber is worth £100 to you.”

The good news is that Dominy sets out a process to help you calculate the value to individuals, organisations and society.

To download the Govdelivery ‘Measuring the Financial Value of a Subscriber’ whitepaper by Guy Dominy click here.

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  1. Dan,
    Thanks for an interesting post. I would suggest that any number generated is based on a series of assumptions that are unverifiable. The figures often reflect a very crude activity based costing model. The ABC model is based on assumptions that if changed skew the result.
    At the same time, the figure is meaningless. I know the FOIA number £293 as I have done a fair bit of research on it. It is, at best, a proxy for the amount of work that is required. Yet, if you cost all services they would cost more than the organisation’s annual budget. The costs are illusory and undefined.
    People like the numbers because they provide a sense of certainty. People can point to a number, claim it is objective, and say “the numbers do not lie.” At the same time, people rely on numbers as a shield so they can avoid the human consequences of a decision about numbers. We rarely want to confront the human cost of such figures and we rely on a “cost benefit” rationale to avoid having to consider the deeper human issues it involves.
    What happens with such numbers is we know the price of everything and the value of nothing. It further encourages the fatuously stupid political statements such as “A country cannot live beyond its means” All countries live beyond their means. All have debt and all have more debt than they currently have income. The issue is how they service the debt, what it is being used for, and what type of society they want to create.
    I suggest that any numbers need to be taken as one indicator among many. If we rely on them, it can lead us away from what we are trying to do.

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