03 Sep 2012

Just over a week ago we sent out a newsletter to Symphony website members. It's not often that we take the effort to do mail-outs, but when we do, we make sure we've got important things to say. We thought that we should share our newsletter and survey results with the community.

First up, here are the statistic relating to the mail-out:

Newsletter Statistics

We're quite happy with the result. According to Mail Chimp, our mail open rate is 15% ~ 20% above the industry average. Our guess is that we don't typically send out newsletters, so the novelty of the email may have contributed to a higher than average open rate. Not that we are complaining!

Here's a breakdown of the newsletter's click performance:

Newsletter Statistics

The majority of clicks went to the Soario website with the click-through to the other links being distant runners. The result was a little surprising as our expectation was to see a funnelling effect with a linear drop-off instead of the sharp drop-off observed. I'd be interested to hear from others with more experience doing newsletter campaigns have to say about click performance and how we could improve in this particular area.

Now, on to the survey results. You can find the survey report by going to

Based on the survey results, this is what we've concluded:

Participant Distribution

  • Only 15% of the survey participants that have taken the survey are newish members.
  • Majority of the participants work in the web industry and many are freelancers.
  • Most use Symphony on a small number of projects.
  • There are more that use it exclusively than there are users that use it for many projects.

Symphony Feedback

  • Equal split on the view that updates are too few and far between
  • Most worry about possible breakages after updates
  • Most can find extesnions that cover their needs
  • Most find extensions to be of high quality and bug free
  • Most disagree with the move away from XSLT
  • Most disagree with the move away from XML
  • Most are indifferent to supporting other databases (though a good portion agree it would be nice)
  • Most are indifferent to moving away from RDBMS

Even though that the results suggest most disagree with the idea of moving away from XSLT and/or XML, there have been several participant comments stating that they're not opposed to the idea per se, but if it's done it must be a committed transition. On the notion of moving away from RDBMS, most are indifferent, with more in agreement than those that disagree. This is a little surprising as our expectation has been that many are comfortable with RDBMS, specifically MySQL. There have been many discussions on the forum on the topic of database abstraction, but they mostly revolve around an implementation that requires a RDBMS solution. Exploring ideas for a post-RDBMS world is very exciting, but it's important to note that it may not be feasible to offer a solution that supports both RDBMS and other alternatives such as OODBMS.

Commercial Feedback

The survey asked participants to rate potential products and services based on their opinion of its value. Below is the result ordered from most to least valuable.

  1. Staff workshops and seminars
  2. Technical helpdesk
  3. Paid Extensions
  4. Hosting services
  5. Project Pitching
  6. Customer helpdesk

It's evident that the most valuable thing participants want is a way to become more adept at using Symphony. I think we are definitely in need of more and better learning material, though it would be wrong to just lean on Soario to provide this as a commercial service. Ultimately this doesn't help the community and only benefits the businesses that have the means to get support. The plan is to ensure that businesses that do have the means to "pay to learn" agree to release materials that sprout from these seminars to be released to the community. The hope is to perpetuate a positive feedback loop as more people become skilled in Symphony, the more people that can further help in the community and grow our user base.

We've learned a lot from our recent newsletter and survey campaign. It has changed my opinion of campaigns from "indifferent" to "valuable" ;)

I plan to share our results whenever we do more campaigns in the future.


  • Lewis
  • 05 Sep 12, 6:45 am

Great insight. Thanks for sharing the results. I would've liked to seen a better click through rate for this year's symposium!

  • s_e
  • 27 Sep 12, 1:36 am

I totally missed this blog and absolutely forgot to do the survey. I have now done it. Enjoy.

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