Do Prospective Students Respond Better to Longer Emails?

Does the word count in emails impact the open-to-click rate? It’s a common question for those trying to engage prospective students via email marketing. And it’s a question Capture Higher Ed’s Communication Department recently asked Capture Labs to study.

What we found might be a little surprising.

The answer we arrived at: Yes, word count does impact an email’s open-to-click rate … but not dramatically. And, in general, the longer the email the better. (I thought these kids were supposed to be attention deprived?)

For about every 58 more words, the open-to-click rate increases by about a percentage point. It seems students want some substance in their emails. I’m sure there’s some limit where emails get too long, but in general, longer is better and you should shoot for more emails in the 200- to 300-word range.

Here are the median open-to-click rates by the number of words in body of the email.


Shorten Those Subject Lines

Here’s a related question — does the number of words in an email subject line affect the open rate? The results are the opposite — shorter is better. The sweet spot is between four and six words. But if you need more words to convey the message, keep it within 13.

For example, here are some high-performing short subject lines:

  • “Location, location, location …”
  • “{prospect.first_name}, You’ve Got This!”
  • “{School Name} grads get jobs”

For every four extra words, the open rate drops by about 1 percent.


The takeaway from our email marketing study: When it comes to email subject lines, keep it short and sweet. But when it comes to email bodies, make them beefy.

By John Foster, Senior Data Analyst, Capture Higher Ed