Does size really matter?

That’s list size of course!

We recently ran some interesting reporting from dotMailer, looking at campaign open and non-open rates versus number of sends, across the whole dotMailer user base.

The results

Our reports showed that for email marketing campaign sends to address books containing between 500 and 5,000 contacts, the average non-open rate is 69%.

That’s an average 31% open rate, which is above the average overall DMA benchmark open rates*.

The average open rate in our report includes a range of campaign types and senders, including client campaigns and campaigns to ‘colder’ prospect data, so as an average open rate it’s a healthy one.

Niche campaigns

We then looked at the average non-open rate for campaigns sent to between 50 and 500 contacts.

For these campaigns, we found the non-open rate figure drops to 61%. So for campaigns where a smaller group is targeted, open rate increases by an average of 8%.

We can make an assumption here that these campaigns are sent to smaller groups because they are more targeted, niche campaigns, with more relevant content (rather than bulk, blanket sends).

Based on this assumption, the reporting seems to clearly back up the assertion that targeted email leads to better response metrics.

Large scale campaigns

To test this point further, we next looked at the metrics for campaigns sent to address books of more than 5,000 contacts.

Here, we found that the non-open rate grew to 74%. That’s 13% less openers than for campaigns sent to targeted groups of 500 contacts or less.

Overall an average open rate of 26% across all campaigns in this 5000+ contacts category is a number these senders should be pleased with, as it takes into account both client campaigns and colder prospect campaigns.

The takeaways

The key message here is not that you should mail small or large groups of people. It is that you should apply the same level of targeted messaging and content to large target audiences as you would to a very small group.

Use data segmentation and dynamic content to tailor your offers, your message and your subject line so you are not emailing one large data set, but a series of smaller segments with differing profiles and needs.

And always use subject line split testing. An advantage of sending to large groups is you have a larger sample to split test against, and can pull more accurate split test results.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity afforded here, to maximize your open rates.

* DMA National Email Benchmarking Report Q4, 2008: Average unique open rate for acquisition campaigns = 15%. Average unique open rate for retention campaigns = 19.5%.