8 Common mistakes made in email metrics

Email marketing owes much of its success with marketers to metrics and reporting. No other channel allows you to track and trace your campaigns to a personal level and measure conversions with such accuracy. These are both highly effective techniques to fine-tune your communication. But be aware, there's also something we call ‘metric deception'.

If you interpret a metric in the wrong way, your decisions based upon this will be incorrect as well. For example: you are sending out e-coupons for free samples to a database of 100,000 people. If this campaign yields just one download, it's a bad thing. If, for your next campaign you get 5 downloads, you're still stuck with a bad campaign. But you can also make it sound positive by saying you have managed a 500% boost in conversion. Get our point?

Another common pitfall is that we compare results to a benchmark. These generalized standards tell you nothing about your target group, conversion rates, etc… So again, your findings will not be accurate.

How do you avoid these pitfalls of misinterpreted metrics? Check out our list of the 8 most common metric mistakes and get better insights.

1) Click rates are calculated on all clicks. Filter out the clicks that are not relevant to your communications (unsubscribes, top links, privacy links, …) to get a more accurate figure. 

2) When sending out a campaign consisting of multiple emails, do not just attribute the conversion to the last email sent. Try to calculate how every email has contributed to the conversion, also known as ‘weighted value attribution'.

3) Opened rates are not 100% accurate: they are registered when someone downloads an image, but it's also possible that people read your email without downloading an image. Be aware that the actual opened rate will be higher than the one displayed in your reporting.

4) ‘Total emails delivered' does not necessarily mean all those emails actually reached the inbox of your recipients. If you have a delivery rate of 98%, it does mean you have just 2% of bounces. But it doesn't tell you if the 98% of delivered emails ended up in the inbox or the junk folder (Do check out our post on Gmail new prioritized inbox). 

5) Some new tools provide you an insight on the reading behavior of your recipients: did someone actually read your email or did he just glance at it? This calculation is based upon the loading time of the tracking pixel. So if your reader has a slow internet connection, it will probably register a long and attentive read. It's wise to keep that in mind when using this kind of tracking.

6) ‘We have some top leads! Our recipient opened the email 20 times…'. This probably means that the email was forwarded to others. You can try to measure that forwarding behavior by registering different IP addresses. 

7) Globally the email standardization project tries to unify the way we calculate metrics (http://www.email-standards.org/). So if your metrics are certified, you can compare them to other standardized ESP's.

8) How can you get a good estimation of how many emails are placed in the inbox? Use testing tools that send your email to various ISP's and email clients and see where exactly it is placed. On the other hand, if you work with dynamic content, it's hard to extrapolate this for your entire campaign. 


Always interpret your metrics critically before taking a decision or making calculations based on this data.

Posted on
Jul 31, 2013