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Insights  |  February 19, 2021

Granicus Sees Record-Breaking Citizen Engagement During Vaccine Rollout; Here’s How Governments Can Meet Unprecedented Demand

This post was originally published by Granicus.

With vaccines gradually making their way across the U.S., and misinformation continuing to run rampant, Granicus wanted to better understand how federal, state and local governments are engaging with communities to aid in vaccine rollout.

To get a snapshot of the current state of vaccine communications from government agencies across the country, we examined 199 million vaccine-related messages across nearly 450 govDelivery customers sent between December 1, 2020 and February 8, 2021. Tracking and analyzing these government communications, we uncovered a series of patterns related to communications volume and type that outline key areas of opportunity for leaders at all levels of government.

Most notably, we found that citizen engagement rates are higher than ever when it comes to vaccination. The average vaccine-related email open rate has reached 27.26%, more than four times the industry average. This unprecedented demand for information puts the pressure on governments to get their communities the information they need to support smooth vaccine distribution.

Top Drivers of Engagement

Taking an even closer look at the types of information communicated – and which specific types of comms get the most traction – we found a clear preference for action- and detail-oriented messaging.

  • Emails confirming that the recipient was signed up to receive vaccine-related messages  saw open rates of nearly 70%, demonstrating a clear intention to monitor updates.
  • Only about 5% of communications share “how to” information, letting interested people know exactly what to do to sign-up and get the vaccine, yet these messages yield 60% better engagement than typical communications.
  • About 30% of communications feature detailed information specific to the different vaccines available, their safety, how many doses are required, and their efficacy. These communications generate 40% better engagement than typical sends.
  • Notably, informational emails, with open rates of 33.6%, are seeing higher engagement than notices that a certain group is now able to receive the vaccine (31.3%).

With unparalleled levels of engagement, it’s clear that citizens—regardless of their position in line for the vaccine—are craving information from local leaders.

Qualities of Successful Vaccine Communications

While there’s a clear desire for more vaccine information from all levels of governments, not all bulletins are created equal. In our research, we identified three key attributes that maximize citizen engagement: urgency, focus, and attribution.

  • Urgency: Subject lines conveying urgency have higher open rates; high urgency emails (i.e. the recipient will be able to take action only if they open the email) have a 30.8% open rate, while low urgency (they will learn some information only if they open the email) are at 29.7%.
  • Focus: Subject lines that focus on COVID-19 and vaccine information or only vaccine information get significantly more engagement—31.1% and 33.1%, respectively—than bulletins that lump vaccine information together with unrelated information (22%).
  • Attribution: Emails citing local community leaders, such as school superintendents and department heads, are the most successful (35.8%), and are significantly more engaging than bulletins coming from government sources (25.1%). Surprisingly, bulletins citing healthcare workers have the lowest open rates (15.8%).

“Governments today are faced with the most pressing and complex communications challenge of our lifetime. Educating as many people as possible about the vaccine—the risks, the benefits and how to get one—is critical to expediting the vaccine rollout and, ultimately, the return to normalcy,” said Susan Ganeshan, CMO at Granicus. “While no government agency has navigated a vaccination campaign of this magnitude, every one of them is working towards a common goal. Leaning on one another to better understand which strategies are working, and which are not, will only accelerate inoculations and maximize the health and safety of our communities.”

For more information about our research methodology, please reach out to To learn more about how Granicus can help maximize vaccine rollout adoption and efficacy with its Vaccine Communication Toolkit, see here.

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