2astonishingThe reports that you receive after the sending of your emails usually contain many figures, tables and graphs. But make sure you interpret them correctly!

Numerous articles and guides offer assistance in analyzing email marketing campaigns. They deal with what kind of data should be considered to optimize the campaign and how to get this data in the first place.

In the following article I would like to show you quite plainly some lesser known traps you should avoid when evaluating statistics as they possibly lead to incorrect conclusions.

"Sent" and "delivered" - a subtle distinction

If you check your stats, the first information is usually how many emails have been "sent" and how many have been "delivered". This "sent" is often misinterpreted as being received in the inbox of the recipient, but it’s actually the delivery rate as "sent" doesn’t consider the bounces.

Unfortunately, the "sent" number is quickly misinterpreted, as it doesn’t take into account the emails that are sorted out by various anti-spam mechanisms. This usually happens without your knowledge. In addition, emails that were in fact delivered, but immediately moved to the spam or junk folder, are not considered.

The burning desire for low unsubscribe rates

Sometimes you find in case studies conclusions that a low unsubscribe rate is an indicator for a successful email marketing campaign. Right or wrong?

The assumption is that subscribers who do not wish to receive the newsletter any longer would click the unsubscribe button. Thus, low unsubscribe rates suggest that the reader wants to continue receiving the emails.

Unfortunately, however, many more subscribers use the "delete" or "spam" button, or move an email from the inbox to the “junk folder". In particular when the recipient does not trust the sender and suspects misuse of the cancellation.

So, is your unsubscribe rate low because your readers have a real interest in your emails, or because your readers rather use the spam button to discontinue receiving your newsletter?

Well, I only advise not to use the unsubscribe rates to make a statement about the interest in your newsletters, but rather use active measurements such as open and click-through rates or other activities, such as sales.

Inconspicuous forwarding rates

Your stats may include a number of subscribers who forward your newsletter to others. A great feeling when your email is so valuable to your readers that it is spread to others. This number is unfortunately mostly negligible.

However, the forwarding rate that you can get from your stats is often not meaningful. Services and software only recognize those redirects that have been made via the button or link “forward" - a feature that can often be integrated at the end of a newsletter. If readers just use your forward button in the email client, this is not factored in by the statistics. But, unfortunately, this is often the most common way to forward a newsletter, so don’t draw any false conclusions from a low forwarding rate.

Average peaks falsify results

Most statistics indicate their percentage averages for the whole address list, but when you go deeper into the analysis here, these averages can show some important differences in the behavior of different groups within your list. Just keep in mind that there are not always the same readers who open your emails.

Therefore, rather than to look only at the opening rates of the different emails, ask yourself the question: "How many subscribers opened at least one newsletter in the past month?" You will be surprised by the results.

Some differences are due to seasonal conditions or trends. People have a lot to do, are on vacation, too busy during the week (but not necessarily in the next week) to read your newsletter. But some reasons why your emails are not read are perhaps just due to the different preferences of your readership. Interests and needs can vary greatly and regional differences also affect the relevance of the newsletter. Therefore, you should think about how your readership can be segmented, such as by interests or regions.

You can avoid all these misunderstandings, if you keep two questions in mind when you evaluate your stats:
• How has the figure been measured and calculated?
• What does this number really say?

Besides that, remember that these misinterpretations can tag marketing campaigns very quickly as a flop, even though in reality they are not. Be aware of what the numbers say and what not - what you want to see or what is shown to you.

By Daniela la Marca