Capture Blog

Open, Positive, Unsubscribe: Measuring Email Rates

The Capture Higher Ed communications department focuses on getting the best results possible for our partner schools. That’s why we monitor closely the emails sent to students on behalf of our partners and make improvements when needed to improve email rates.

That’s also why we conduct A/B tests on emails to determine what factors make the email rates the best they can be.

The email rates we presently focus on are “open rate,” “positive click rate” and “unsubscribe rate.”

The open rate refers to the number of students who opened an email. This is determined by dividing the number of emails opened by the number of emails delivered. Based on open rates for all of Capture’s partner schools, an above average open rate is over 16 percent; an average rate is between 11 and 16 percent; and a below average rate is under 11 percent.

The positive click rate refers to the number of students who opened the email and then clicked on a link but excludes the students who clicked on the unsubscribe link. It is similar to a click rate or open-to-click rate, but takes into account only the clicks to links we want prospects to click. This is determined by taking the number of clicks, subtracting the number of clicks on the unsubscribe link, and then dividing that number by the number of opens. Again, based on the rates for all of Capture’s partners, an above average positive click rate is over 4.5 percent; an average rate is between 2.5 and 4.5 percent; and a below average positive click rate is under 2.5 percent.

Finally, the unsubscribe rate refers to the number of clicks on an email that specifically were to unsubscribe from that email. This is determined by dividing the number of unsubscribes by the number of clicks. A better than average unsubscribe rate is below 30 percent; an average rate is between 30 and 33 percent; and a higher than average unsubscribe rate is above 33 percent.

In future blog posts, we will show you how we use these rates to conduct A/B testing, also called split testing or bucket testing. It’s the method we use to examine elements of an email — subject lines, capitalization, personalization, number of .edu links and more — to see if they have significant effects on email rates.

By Jacqui Boyle, Senior Communications Specialist, Capture Higher Ed

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