Round 2: Brief Open Rates and the Quest for a U of M Benchmark

May 13, 2019

Last month U Relations asked the question, “What is a good open rate for University of Minnesota electronic newsletters?”

So far, we’ve had more than 44 responses to that survey. You can still add yours if you haven’t at https://z.umn.edu/open-click

In a bit of an analysis, or rather, an interpretation by a person not explicitly trained in analytics, we’ve compiled the following, based on the first 44 responses in the survey; subsequent arrivals haven’t been factored in yet.

For those who want just the stats up front, here’s the basic breakdown by list size, open, and click rates:

  • List size: 0-450: 71% open rate, 13% click rate
  • List size: 451-2k: 53% open rate, 6.6% click rate
  • List size: 2k-5k: 43% open rate, 5.2% click rate
  • List size: 5k-10k: 37% open rate, 4.7% click rate
  • List size: 10,000+: 30% open rate, 4.1% click rate

Conclusions from this data are listed at the end of the post here, but in the meantime, here are more highlights from the results:

  • For publications with a recipient list of 0-450, the open rate ranges from 52% to 85%, average 71%. Click rates: 4%-60%, average 17%. If you remove the outlier of 60%, the rate falls to a more meaningful 13%.
  • For publications with a recipient list of 451-2,000, the open rate ranges from 36% to 74%, average 53%. Click rates: 2.5%-17%, average 6.6%.
  • For publications with a recipient list of 2,000-5,000, the open rate ranges from 26% to 65%, average 43%. Click rates: 3.35%-29%, average 9%. If you remove the outlier of 29%, the rate falls to 5.2%. You’d expect these numbers to keep falling as list sizes grow, so kudos to the newsletter getting 29%!
  • For publications with a recipient list of 5,000-10,000, the open rate ranges from 24% to 55%, average 37%. Click rates: 3%-11%, average 5.6%. If you remove the outlier of 11%, the rate falls to 4.7%.
  • For publications with a recipient list of 10,000+, the open rate ranges from 21% to 44%, average 30%. Click rates: 1.5%-6.5%, average 4.1%.
  • The average open rate among all publications of any size is about 50%, and the click rate is 8%. If you remove the outlier of 60%, the rate falls to 6.2%.
  • Eliminating publications that reach an audience of fewer than 2,000, those with a recipient list of 2,000+ average a 36% open rate. Average click rate for that list: 6.2%.

Conclusions?

Is there a conclusion of any kind to be drawn here? Nothing to be set in stone, but if it’s helpful, from the sample of 44 publications, you could reasonably say that:

Engagement among the University audiences is high compared with industry standards any way you slice it. 

Within the University, a click rate of about 6% is “good” among your peer U of M electronic publications, as is an open rate near or above 30%.

The lowest open rate (21%) came from the largest publication—75,000 recipients, a full 30,000 more than the next largest recipient list. The highest open rate (85%) came from the publication that had the third smallest distribution list (136—smallest was 125). This is fully consistent with industry standards and is exactly what you’d expect—the smaller the list, the more targeted it is (in theory) and the higher the engagement.

If you were to find a takeaway here, it might be that if you have a small list size with few opens and even fewer clicks, you may want to consider whether what you’re doing is worth the time. And if you’re way outside the averages here, a readership survey is always an option.

Contact Adam Overland overland@umn.edu with any questions on the survey.

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