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How Two Key Factors Affect Email Open Rates

by Ayaz Nanji  |  
September 29, 2015

The size of a marketing email campaign and the sender's industry have a significant impact on open rates, according to a recent report from Constant Contact.

The report was based on data from an analysis of the more than 100 billion emails sent in 2014 and 2015 by more than 650,000 global Constant Contact clients. The campaigns were sent by businesses in wide range of B2B and B2C industries and nonprofit groups.

Below, key findings from the report.

Campaign Size

Campaigns sent to 35 or fewer subscribers, suggesting segmentation, have the highest open rate on average (55%), far exceeding the the overall average open rate for all emails examined (22%).

In contrast, campaigns sent to more than 7,500 subscribers average a 14% open rate.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Ryan Tue Sep 29, 2015 via web

    I was curious what the ascribed reason was for the better performance in smaller campaigns. It's pretty much what you expect. For those interested, according to the report, the chief analytics officer at Constant Contact says, "This study provides conclusive proof that personalizing the emails you send, so that you're speaking directly to specific interests and wants of a subscriber, not only strengthens the relationship with subscribers, it results in better campaign performance."

  • by Stephan Tue Sep 29, 2015 via web

    A campaign sent to 7,500 highly segmented subscribers could absolutely achieve as high an open rate as one sent to 35 highly segmented subscribers. The key is in segmentation. Since this report is compiled by a company who may not have customers with list sizes and segmentation strategies at that scale, their findings will be different than, say, a study by someone like Epsilon.

    And to play devil's advocate, industry shouldn't affect open rate if the company is setting expectations and building value-added relationships with the right messaging. Too many fall short on that front, which means you can group them however you want and make a graph.

    Sorry to be critical, but as with all reports, there's way more explaining that needs to be done for a reader to get the full picture of how this affects their business.

  • by Landon Donovan Thu Oct 1, 2015 via web

    Hey, this is a good post.

    I think, most email marketing campaigns focus on three points:
    -Getting the recipient to open the email
    -Following the call-to-action in the email
    -Clicking through to the final destination, which is often a specific landing page on the website
    Thus, the key performance indicators for email marketing are often open rate and clickthrough rate, and then that final conversion on the website, which can take a number of different forms. So these two factors you have mentioned greatly affect the marketing tactics in email industry.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • by GetResponse Wed Jan 17, 2018 via web

    Nicely done! I really like your ďOpen Rate by IndustryĒ infographic.

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