Understanding Email Metrics

Understanding Your Email and Campaign Metrics Reports

The Email Metrics Reports are presented in sections, consisting of the following:

  • Identification Section
    Report Specifications (e.g. Sent, From, To, Subject).
  • Key Performance Metrics
    Primary Email Metrics with counts and percentages (e.g. Click Thru Rate).
  • Chart/Graph
    Visual representation of key metrics and activity.
  • Simple English Metrics
    Snapshot of activity in plain English (e.g. 1,735 recipients opened your email).
  • Detailed Segmentation
    Complete metric and inverse metric set, with drill-down capability.
  • Click Details
    Click metrics and inverse for all links included within the tracked message(s).

Any numbers displayed within the metrics reports as links (blue and underlined) may be clicked to drill-down to a list of all individual recipients or interactions which make up that number. Actions may then be taken on those segmented lists. The email metrics reports may be printed or exported as Word or Excel documents.

The following definitions and descriptions explain the email metrics within your reports and how they are calculated, to help you understand, analyze and utilize the numbers.

Email Sent is the actual number of emails sent to individual recipients. This is the actual number of email messages put into the Outlook Outbox (or sent via the PoliteMail mail server).

The Delivered count is the total sent minus the undeliverables, sometimes referred to as a delivery rate. Despite the name, and much like Outlook’s own delivery receipt option, this metric does not indicate if the email was actually delivered into the recipient’s inbox or not—it only indicates that it the email was sent by your mail server and delivered to the recipient’s mail server.

Delivery into the inbox depends upon your email message content, use of file attachments, the recipient’s spam settings and your mailing reputation (reputation is maintained by ISPs and includes volume consistency, junk levels, spam complaints, bounce ratios, white listing, etc.). Your email could be blocked, filtered into the junk folder, or delivered to the inbox. The recipient’s mail server does not report any of that information back to the sender.

Opens are the total count of individual recipients with at least one confirmed open for the email sent. This is a unique count, meaning each recipient is only counted once. A confirmed open occurs when an individual recipient displays the content (downloads pictures) of your email message, measured using standard web page image tracking as the image is requested from the PoliteMail server. The Open Rate is a ratio of the count of individual recipients who have opened your message (at least once) to the total email delivered.

The Multiple Opens metric is the count of recipients who have opened the email (download content/pictures) more than once. The multiple metric is also shown as a percentage of the total number of delivered messages. Multiple opens may occur when the recipient opens the same message on both their computer and smart phone, for example. Note that there is a three-hour filter on multiple opens that occur within the same inbox, and this is prevent the effect of seeing multiple opens as a result of people just scrolling through their messages. In the Detailed Segmentation section of the metrics report, the Opens (non-unique) number would indicate the total unfiltered open events (content downloads) for that message. Also in that section, New Opens is the count of recipients whose first-ever open occurred for an email message included within the report.

The Clicks metric is the total count of unique individual recipients who have clicked (at least one link) within the email message. The Click Thru Rate (CTR) is the percentage of the total clicks to the total recipients the email was delivered to. This metric is also a unique count, meaning each recipient (email address) is only counted once, no matter how many times they have clicked. The Multiple Clicks metric is the count of recipients who have clicked multiple links within the email, or the same link more than once. The percentage is of the total number of delivered messages.

Undeliverable emails are messages which have bounced back to the sender as permanently undeliverable (hard bounce), most often because the email address does not exist (is invalid or no longer has an active account). PoliteMail’s undeliverable count does not include soft bounces, which are error messages sent from the recipient’s mail server because of a temporary issue. Most often, these are delay messages, and your email will get delivered eventually (delay retries are handled automatically by the mail server). In the case where soft bounces never get delivered, a hard-bounce message usually follows, which will be tracked. Sometimes, undeliverables are temporary issues such as mailbox is full or the mail server is down.

Out-of-Office mails are messages are auto-replies to the sender indicating the email was delivered, but the recipient is unlikely to read the email until later, when they return to the office.

The Opt-Out metric is the count of recipients who have clicked the opt-out link included within the email message as a result of using the PoliteMail > Enable Opt-out option, and then completes the opt-out or unsubscribe option on the Opt-out confirmation page. The Opt-Out Rate is the percentage of opt-outs to total email delivered.

The Forwards metric is a count of additional opens which occurred from some other computer/IP address other than the original recipient’s. This indicates the message was most likely forwarded. PoliteMail can not identify who the message was forwarded to, but does indicate who is spreading the word.

The Effective Rate metric is a measure of how effective your call to action was, and works as an indicator of interest in your email message. The Effective Rate is calculated as the ratio of total clicks and replies to confirmed opens. This metric tells you, for the people you know for sure saw your message, what percentage of people took the action you wanted them to take.

The Replies metric is the count of individual recipients who replied to your message, and the percentage is calculated to the total delivered.

Within the Detailed Segmentation section, some additional metrics are included.

Interactions are any recipient interactions with your email, including link clicks, smart attachment opens, replies and forwards. Opens, Opt-outs and unsubscribes are not counted as interactions, as they are accounted for separately. The Total Interactions metric is the count of all interactions made as a result of your email. For example, if one recipient clicked on two different links, that would count as two interactions. Clicking on the same link twice would also count as two interactions.

List and Account Results Reports

When running reports on mailing lists or for all sends within your account, PoliteMail provides the standard Open and Click metrics, as well as three additional metrics that help you measure performance for multiple messages sent over time.

The Drop-off Rate metric is the rate at which contacts are falling off your list by unsubscribing, opting-out, or becoming undeliverable within the last 90 days. The drop-off rate tells you the percentage of your list you are losing over time. Drop-off is not necessarily a bad thing, as having a smaller, yet more engaged list is preferable to a large inactive list.

The Opt-out Rate is the ratio of opt-outs to total number of individual recipients. A recipient is counted as an opt-out when your recipient clicks the opt-out link within an email and completes the opt-out or unsubscribe action on the opt-out form.

The Active metric is the count of recipients who have at least one open confirmation or response (click, reply or forward) within the last 90-days. To be considered Active, you must have sent email to the contact within the last 180 days. Active contacts are people who are doing something with the email you send. Obviously, some contacts will be more active than others, with the recently active and highly active contacts being the most engaged with your communications.

The Inactive metric is the count of recipients on your list who have no open confirmations or responses within the past 90-day period. To be considered Inactive, a recipient must have been sent at least seven (7) email messages.

The Engagement Index metric is a measure of how engaged your list is with your email messages. This index is calculated by factoring the Active and Inactive contacts with the Recency and Frequency of interactions, in consideration of the Opt-out Rate. You may use the resulting index to measure the relative engagement level of your lists. When monitored over time, this index provides an indication of the success of your email program, and the overall effectiveness of your communications to drive interaction.

The following additional metrics may be included within the Detailed Segmentation section of the report.

The Neutral metric is the count of contacts on your list who do not qualify as either Active or Inactive. Typically, these are contacts you have not sent email to, or contacts with no opens or responses, and who have not yet received the minimum number of email messages to be considered Inactive.

The Active Opener (non-responder) metric is the count of active contacts who have opened at least one message within the last 90 days, but never otherwise responded to any email you’ve sent.

The Active Responders metric is the count of active contacts who have responded at least once within the last 90 days to any email you’ve sent to this list. Recent Responders is the count of active contacts who have responded at least once within the last 30 days.


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