Using Open/Click Rates to Broaden the Definition of Campaign Success


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When it comes to outreach, each message you send has the potential to positively impact student success at your institution. However,  with the sheer number of things competing for your student’s time and attention, it can be hard to know what kinds of messages are most impactful for your students. For this reason, it’s important not only to be thoughtful in how we communicate with students when using email, but also to be diligent in evaluating the performance of sent messages so we can learn and adapt in real-time. Taking advantage of your campaign metrics is a simple way to uncover what’s working in your campaigns and how you can iterate on those efforts. Metrics such as email open and click-through rate can be powerful tools for understanding if students are opening your emails and how they’re interacting with email content. Reports show that across industries, open rates can range from 10% to 25% and click-through rates can range from 4% to 14%. Open rates for higher education are on the high end of that range (19.93%) and click-through rates fall along the middle (8.33%). Early indications of student engagement from our partners who have run nudge campaigns have shown incredible engagement, with open rates averaging in the 40-60% range, and some partners seeing over 70% engagement with nudges. These rates show us that it is possible to beat benchmarks by being thoughtful about who we are reaching out to and testing subject lines, sender addresses, and nudge content that might compel those students the most. Higher education has an opportunity to think more like marketers — with the ability to use short-cycle analytics like open rates to gauge overall student engagement with your communications, and click-through rates as leading indicators for conversions (how many of the students who clicked on the advising center link in an email end up making an appointment with their advisors). Metrics like open and click through rates also allow you identify students who are not engaging with your nudges, letting you test different ways of connecting with them before it’s too late. Today, using new click/open rates in Illume, our partners can take a look at their own data to consider how they can use this information to lead to higher engagement and potentially increase the impact on persistence and retention downstream.


Download the nudging eBook, which includes strategies and tactics to help you design and implement data-inspired student outreach campaigns that improve outcomes.

Carl Thorne-Thomsen

Carl oversees the Illume and Inspire applications. He leads the company’s product efforts into student nudging, providing the tools to effectively outreach to students using cutting-edge behavioral science theory. Before joining Civitas, Carl taught HS Algebra and Geometry with Teach for America, where he also coached tennis, led the math department and was 2013 Kimball HS teacher of the year.

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