What does an open mean in my reports?


Our Goal for Reporting Data

Our goal at ReachMail is to provide you with the most accurate information about your campaign deliveries as possible. As the email ecosystem evolves over time, so too must we adjust our metrics to stay current with updated standards. The recent changes to the campaign reports have been implemented in order to provide more accurate information so you can make the best decisions possible. The following is an explanation of these changes and our logic for making these decisions. 

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Opener Data Definitions
ReachMail defines two variations of opener data as follows: (#1 shown in the screenshot above)

Opens - Total opens. All open events. If an individual opens the message several times, every open will appear in this report. 

Openers - Unique list of individuals that have opened the message. Regardless of how many times an individual opened the message, they will only appear once in this report.

What about forwards?

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Long standing ReachMail customers may recall a forwards column which is now absent from the report. After much deliberation, our team has decided to remove the forwards data from the report due to it's inherently flawed nature. ReachMail still provides forwarding information for recipients that use the Forward-To-A-Friend feature we offer (#2 shown in the screenshot above), but assumed forwards are no longer present. 

To better understand this, here is our reasoning for the decision: First, one key concept. All messages sent from ReachMail are unique to the recipient and mailing. This is how ReachMail is able to track which recipient opened the message and when. In the past, ReachMail assumed that multiple opens from a single recipient were forwards to other people. Since the message is unique to the recipient, any message they forward will simply track as an additional open for the original recipient of the message.

IP and Webkit information were also used to fine tune the calculation, but the process required that we make several assumptions about open behavior that are no longer consistent with today's standards. Years ago, these were a relatively safe assumptions to make. Now, with the increase in mobile views to roughly 50% of all views ReachMail tracks, they are no longer accurate. As our goal at ReachMail is to provide you with most accurate representation of data as possible, we will no longer portray these multiple opens as forwards. 

Real World Examples

The following are real world examples of how this forwards calculation can be misleading at times. 

1) Recipient receives the email on their commute to work. They open the mail from their smart phone a take a look. Once they get to the office, they open the mail again on their smart phone, but now on the office wifi. Finally, they open the email a third time from their desktop machine. This sequence would track as 3 opens, 2 mobile and 1 desktop. The older forwarding calculation would show this as 2 forwards when the message was never forwarded. 

2) Recipient receives the message on their office desktop machine. Everyone at the office has the same kind of computer with the exact same version of Outlook installed. They then forward the message to 10 other people at their office. The office network shares the same external IP address for all employees. Since the IP and email clients all the same, this would not track as a forward as the opens are indistinguishable from one another to our system. This is a case where the recipient did forward the message, but we are unable to display the multiple opens as forwards in the reports.

To be sure, the majority of cases we originally reported as forwards were accurate. Unfortunately, at this point, the potential for cases where inaccuracies on this number outweigh the benefits of reporting forwards in this manner. We recognize that this may be a shift in the way some of our clients view our reporting. If you still wish to get the same metrics on forwards as we used to show in the reports, the math is extremely simple:

Opens - First View
e.g. Total Opens - 1 = Total Forwards.

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