Articles

New Metrics for Inbox Performance

Written by Laura Villevieille.

Laura Atkins of “Word to the Wise” recently wrote a fine article detailing the problem we have as senders:  we only ever have access to engagement data through proxy measurements like “open” and “click-through” rates.

There are other metrics that senders would love to see and use to help measure engagement, for example:  How many people actually read a message? Or deleted a message without reading it? Or how long a user kept an email open on their screen?  All of these metrics would be fantastic data for marketers, and would help us diagnose our own deliverability issues without opening trouble tickets with the ISPs that  own the architecture that records this data; sharing it with us would require they invest in development that pretty much only benefits senders, and has the additional problem of possibly even giving away part of their filtering “secret sauce”.

Surprisingly, though, a couple of trail-blazing ISPs have made this data available to senders! Mail.ru has recently rolled out a new postmaster site that includes several of these dream metrics.  QQ has also made some of this data available.

Mail.ru

Mail.ru, operator of the largest Russian webmail provider and social networking sites, has just released a new postmaster website and feedback loop.  The verification process is a bit more involved than other feedback loop programs, but the access it provides is well worth the effort!

The Mail.ru system allows us to see key deliverability metrics like “number of complaints” and percent delivered/blocked/spamfoldered”, and also provides several key engagement metrics:  “number of messages read”, “number of messages deleted after being read” and “number of messages deleted unread”.  All of this information is visible per sending domain by day, week or month and in a build-your-own chart allowing you to compare any of the metrics by week, month or year.  How cool is that?!

Tencent QQ

As Jerome Gays from Signal Spam recently shared with us, China’s largest ISP “Tencent QQ” has also made some of these metrics available. The QQ system allows you to register as the administrator for your sending domains and IPs.  Once registered, reports will show “messages sent”, “messages received in the inbox”, “messages filtered”, “read rate “and “complaint rate” (shown in that order in the image below).   Like Hotmail’s SNDS reports, these metrics are available by IP by day.

Unfortunately, there is no English version of the QQ system, but having access to the ISP’s data is nevertheless really valuable.

With ISP data like this from QQ and Mail.ru, we are able to see new pieces of the deliverability puzzle that were previously never available, and we are finally able to answer some long-standing burning questions:

  • How many people opened the message but didn’t download images?
  • What was the genuine complaint rate?
  • What was the inbox/filtered rate, really?
    • How does that number differ from what our seed tests show?
  • How many people deleted the message without reading it?
    • What does this data indicate about the mailing’s subject lines, frequency, timing and saturation?
    • What does it imply about the mail stream itself (daily deal/newsletter/offers/etc.)?

As deliverability experts, we can use this information to accurately diagnose deliverability problems without engaging the ISP’s Postmaster teams.  It gives us insight into the same complaint and engagement metrics that filters use.  This added visibility can and should also be used to identify issues and help to monitor and stop outbound abuse on our networks.

As senders and marketers, this is really exciting data that gives us a new ability to gauge the real performance of our email campaigns, draw new insights about the relevance and reception of campaigns, and use that information to improve our sending practices thereby improving our inbox placement and ROI.  That’s incredibly valuable information, and we can only hope other ISPs may follow the trail being blazed here. Thank you, Mail.ru and QQ!

More Articles Stories

Tracking Facebook ROI with Impression Attribution

Everyone has their favorite Facebook fan pages, for various reasons. John Deere–with over 154,000 fans–is a particular favorite of mine.  Take a look at their photo pages and you can find about 2,600 photos of happy John Deere customers (and yes, their dogs!) on their tractors. Fans upload their photos and share them with the […]

At the Risk of Stating the Obvious: Growth Markets Need Ecosystems

Every now and then, the stars align and things work out so well it all seems so obvious, in retrospect.   We’ve all been watching and participating in some popular trends over the past few years. You probably use a computer or mobile phone to browse, shop and buy things. It’s likely that you are a […]

Managing Volatility Through Smarter Commerce

As you know, Smarter Commerce helps companies center their operations around their customers to compete more effectively.  A critical component to serving those customers is delivering the inventory they want when they want it and where they want it.  But, what do you do when volatility occurs, either on the demand side with customers changing […]