Prefer to listen to this post? Play the audio here!
When sending out marketing emails, you get back reports with lots of numbers and charts and tables that tell you all about the performance of your emails if you know how to decipher them. Many of the numbers are pretty apparent in what they mean, but there are some statistical traps that may trick you into making incorrect assumptions about your program. Here are a few things to watch for in your statistic reports.
“Received” emails aren’t what they seem.
On your reports, usually one of the first things they tell you is how many emails you sent, and how many were delivered/received and the difference between the two is the number of messages that were bounced.
That sounds simple and straightforward, but that “delivered number” is not what it seems. That number does not take into account the messages that were indeed delivered, but subsequently deleted or diverted to other folders by sneaky spam traps and filters. If you want to track your real delivery rate, there are many delivery monitoring services and programs out there.
Low unsubscribe rates.
A lot of people think that a low unsubscribe rate translates to a successful email strategy. Sometimes that may be true, but not always. That theory is based on the presumption that anyone that doesn’t want to see the messages unsubscribes from the list. Many email users will use the “spam” or “junk” button in order to keep annoying emails out of their inbox, and even more so if they don’t trust the sender to actually take them off the mailing list. Don’t count on low unsubscribe rates as a measure for interest, people may just be deleting you or using their junk buttons to block you. It is better to use active metrics like opens and click-throughs to measure interest.
Inactives, that aren’t.
If you have read much about email marketing practices, you probably know that it is in your best interest to pull inactive subscribers off your list, or try sending them an alternate message to get them interested and engaged again. That is a good practice to follow, but only if you are actually getting rid of inactives. When an email’s images aren’t loaded properly or the text only version is read, it does not register as open. In order to keep from deleting potentials, send a confirmation email to reaffirm their interest in your services.
Lame forward rates.
Some reports will include a forward rate. These rates aren’t always precise and correct because they are often tracked through a “forward to a friend” button in the email. Many people prefer to use the forward button on their email client, just because they know where it is and they use it more often. Your reports may be underestimating the forward rates.
Underestimating the active recipients.
If you look at the percentages of open rates for a sequence of emails the number may strike you as low. But, if you ask “how many people have opened at least one in the last month?” , your numbers may tell another story. Some people may miss a week on their email due to a vacation, or catching them at a busy time but they do open your emails occasionally just not every time.
All of these statistics and analytics just need to be seen in context in order to understand them. Take a critical eye to your numbers and make certain you know how the number is measured/calculated and what the number is really telling you.