As a “word” person, I have never been as intrigued by numbers and statistics as I have been during the past year. I have been pouring over bounce, open and click rates for dozens of targeted marketing emails sent to UW Oshkosh alumni across the nation and around the world.
Since May 2011, the Alumni Relation Office has been keeping a careful eye on our email marketing efforts through the use of the web-based, e-marketing vendor Constant Contact. Email has proven to be a cost-effective way to get the word out about upcoming events and campus updates.
We have learned a lot about this key University audience related to how alumni use and react to email from their alma mater. We’d like to share what we’ve learned so others on the UW Oshkosh campus who communicate with alumni can benefit and keep our graduates engage and informed.
First off, the numbers show that the best day to send out our monthly Alumni News e-newsletter is Friday. That’s the day we see the best open rates (greatest percentage of alumni opening our email messages).
This was not necessarily what we expected based on best practices in other industries that indicate Tuesday and Wednesday mailings yield the best open rates.
For alumni, however, we think that Friday may be the day that folks feel most comfortable opening emails from their alma mater at work. Others may be likely to open their emails from UWO at home on the weekend to follow.
We also have learned that alumni prefer to open emails from us that have straight-forward subject lines. When we start throwing in extra adjectives and exclamation points, our open rates go down. That leads us to believe our alumni respond more positively when we send them no-nonsense, professional email messages.
Another trend we have noticed is that the more targeted our audience is for specific messages, the higher our open rates climb.
For example, our overall open rate is at 16.5 percent. In March and April 2012, our open rates for our alumni newsletter—sent to more than 34,000 alumni and UWO friends and donors for whom we have email addresses—were 17.2 and 16.8 percent, respectively.
But when we target more specific messages to narrower alumni audiences, our open rates soar. Recent emails sent to graduating seniors, theatre alumni and alumni living in the New York City area reached 46.4, 29.9 and 30.3 percent, respectively.
Monitoring our e-marketing analytics has proven to be an invaluable tool for the Alumni Relations Office to get better results from our communication campaigns.
While different University audiences (students, faculty, staff, donors, etc.) may respond differently to email marketing from the University, it’s clear that keeping an eye on the numbers is crucial to delivering our messages effectively.
We’d be happy to exchange information and share more about what we’ve learned with others on campus who use e-marketing as tool to reach their key audiences.