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From the Listerver: e-Newsletter Open and Click Rates - 3/2/2010 -

Your colleagues discuss what constitutes good open and click rates for member publications.

Q. We just launched our first HTML e-newsletter. What would be considered good open and click rates for a publication sent to members? I believe that I've read 20 percent open rates are considered good.

A. At a Lunch and Learn last year, according to one speaker, the average open rate for association e-newsletters is 17.43 percent and the average click-through rate is 2.37 percent.

Melissa K. Swanson, Communications Products Program Manager, National Guard Association of the United States

A. One study to take a look at is the one that Stratton Publishing/Angerosa Research Foundation did in 2007 on association electronic publishing titled "E-Publishing Trends & Metrics.

Their data for association e-newsletters:

  • Average open rate: 36 percent
  • Average click rate (per open): 19 percent

That study was specific to newsletters, exclusive of marketing/promotional emails. They also defined click rate as the number of recipients who click a link divided by the number who open the newsletter. Some tracking services and/or other studies will show it as the number of recipients who click divided by the number who receive the newsletter. There's a big difference, of course, so you should be aware of how click rate is defined in any data you see.

With that said, here's my opinion about email tracking stats: They're really not that good for benchmarking against email from other organizations, but the data can be good to track performance of your own e-publication over time. I say this because there are so many variables that affect open and click rates, such as whether your list is opt-in or opt-out, how up-to-date your email list is, the demographics and behavioral traits of your audience, the ratio of editorial to promotional content in your email, the design, the subject line, the headline writing, the email distribution data-tracking system, and the myriad email platforms that your readers use (which is only getting more diverse with the rise of mobile devices).

So with all those variables, it's just about impossible to compare yourself to another organization. However, you can assume that these factors will remain fairly stable for your specific publication and audience over time. Whatever your numbers are now, consider that a baseline. Then tweak the variables that you have the ability to tweak and watch to see how the stats change. In our case, for example, we've tested for the performance of subject lines and closely tracked the article headlines that get the most clicks in our newsletters to better educate our writers and editors about the types of articles and the styles of headlines that work best to draw readers in. We've also tracked days and times to see when it's best to send our newsletters out.

Joe Rominiecki, Managing Editor, Newsletters, ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership

A. We distribute an e-newsletter weekly that is basically a "news aggregator," including news of the association plus local, state, and national news of the profession.It is distributed to nearly 16,000 of our members and we realize an "open" rate of 29 percent and a "click-through" rate of 13 percent.

Judson P. Haverkamp, Director of Publications, Minnesota State Bar Association


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