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What do the Stats Really Mean?

By Anna Curnow, Internet Strategist.

As with any statistics, there are shades of grey around all the figures..

Sent: This is the number of emails actually sent as part of your campaign. Your test emails do not count as part of this figure. For systems such as MinervaMail that sent out two options (text and HTML) unless the subscriber specifies only text or HTML with no images, then only the email that was received by the user will be counted.

Bounced: These are emails that are marked as undeliverable at some point, usually because the subscriber's username is no longer valid at that domain or that domain is no longer valid. Most email marketing software systems like MinervaMail will automatically process those 'bounces' and mark the subscribers database record as bounced so that no further emails are sent. Don't forget you can always try phoning and asking if there is a newer email address that the subscriber would like you to use.

Unsubscribes: These are subscribers who have used the automatic unsubscribe function to indicate that they don't want any further emails like this from you. Do respect this decision and resist the urge to phone them and challenge them!

Clicks: This is the number of times that any subscriber has clicked on a particular link that you inserted into your emails. You should be able to see the names of those who have clicked and search on this action so that you can send them a further offer. Try to make sure that your links go straight through to the relevant offer page, not just to your, albeit gorgeous, homepage!

Open Rate: Now this is a tricky one. Many email packages talk about knowing who actually reads your emails. However, technically speaking you can't really tell who actually opened or read an email. This is done by inserting an invisible image into the HTML email which tracks the fact the email has been seen.

There are significant limitations to this. If you have a preview pane open in your email client (the default for Outlook, Outlook Express and numerous other email clients) and it's the first email in the list then the image will be downloaded regardless of whether or not they actually "opened" the message.

If they go offline and then read their email, no images can be downloaded at all, including the tracking image.

For text only emails you cannot measure open rates at all.

However, despite its distinct 'dodginess' it remains one of the favourite statistics talked about by email marketers. This feature will be added into MinervaMail soon.