Email Open Rate Versus Social Media Open Rate

This is a post from the Social Summer Camp blog archives that I find to still be VERY relevant today. 

One of the most successful ways for camps to market is through email. I happen to love email marketing, especially if like most camps you already have a list of parents and campers who have opted-in to receiving your newsletters and updates. That being said, I am definitely concerned about email marketing open rates and how camp email marketing has become less effective in the past few years.

There is no exact email marketing open rate benchmark for summer camps, but I like to use the one for non-profits from MailChimp, which is 46%. This number is probably really high for most camps and I would expect that most camps see between a 30 and 40% open rate on their emails. These numbers aren’t that bad until you think about the other 50 or so percent of people in your community who don’t open your emails at all. This 50% is the reason why it makes sense for summer camps to market (both free and paid) in many different channels. If you don’t reach someone in one channel, you will certainly reach them in another channel (not to mention that email marketing isn’t super effective in reaching new customers).

I also think it is wise to compare the cost, effort and return on your email marketing campaigns versus your social media campaigns. Here is a way I like to look at it:

Email Marketing: Cost of email marketing/CRM program, cost of time to prepare and send emails, open rate, link click rate, actions taken from email and cost per each of these actions

Social Media Marketing: Cost of social media ads, cost of time to prepare social content, reach, clicks, click through rate, actions taken from social media ad and cost per each of these actions

While these metrics aren’t directly in comparison, they are definitely close enough to make an interesting story. If one of these types of marketings clearly outshines the other than you should be doing more of that. If they are equal, do both. Either way, keep an eye on declining open rates and think through ways that you can be more effective in reaching moms, campers and counselors with you marketing message.