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Basic Campaign Statistics

Now that you have sent your first campaign, it's time to take a look at your campaign statistics. In this chapter we will look at Sent, Rate Bounces, Forwards and Views, the four most fundamental campaign statistics.

The statistics overview page 

First, go to Statistics > Statistics overview.

how to view basic statistics in phpList

This will show you a summary of all the campaigns you sent in the past year (in this case, we have just sent one).

phpList statistics overview

Sent

In this example, we sent our first campaign to 621 subscribers and this is reflected in the SENT column. It is useful to see how many subscribers you have for each campaign, so you can see your list grow over the year.

Bounces

The second column BNCS shows the number of emails that "bounced." A bounced email is one that cannot reach its intended recipient. This could be caused by any number of things, for example:

  • The email is incorrect, does not exist or has an error such an expired domain
  • The Mailbox is full (this may be temporarily or not)
  • A badly configured auto-responder (automated "I'm on Holiday till" of "I got your message and will reply soon" type mails)

The exact definition of a bounce depends on your phpList configuration, and it can take several days for a bounce to be registered on the system. An email which continues to bounce will eventually be either unconfirmed or added to a do-not-send list.

A high bounce rate may be a sign of poor list quality.

In this campaign there were 0 bounces.

Forwards

The third column FWDS shows the number of people who have forwarded the mail through the phpList ForwardToFriend system. This is dealt with in Advanced Statistics. 

"Views"

This is the most exciting of your statistics, but also the most misleading.

In this case, our email was "viewed" by 156 of the 621 recipients, which gives us an open RATE of 25.12%. However, it is important to understand the limitations of this statistic, so you don't become frustrated or disillusioned by what may seem like low readership levels.

The VIEWS statistic:

  • Tells us how many people were recorded opening their email (and presumably read the contents)
  • Tells us the minimum number of people who opened the email
  • And gives us a rate that reflects the number of people opening an email compared to other emails we send.
  • Does not tell us exactly how many people opened the mail, or what they did when they opened it.

An "open" is not always be recorded.

The major cause of inaccuracy when recording views is image blocking. If images/remote content are blocked by a subscriber's email software, then the action of your subscriber opening the email cannot be reported back to phpList (or to any system). Image blocking is therefore quite commonly used as a privacy feature by email and webmail clients.

how image blocking affects recorded views in phpList

Only when your subscriber clicks, for example Show Remote Content, is the view recorded in your campaign statistics.

clicking show remote content (in thunderbird) leads to one more view in phpList

Still a useful statistic...

This inaccuracy is the same for everyone, no matter which software they are using to send their campaign; any "open rate" averages you see discussed on-line or in books are subject to the same rules.

It is difficult to estimate how much higher your real readership is, additionally the inaccuracy rate will vary from campaign to campaign. If we bear this in mind, we can still make some comparisons, for example "have I received more views over several campaigns" and "how to I compare to the industry average"

What's the difference?

The difference between the real open rate and the statistic may be very significant: in this case, a quick study found that only 1 in 3 of the customers who bought the cat food in the hours after the email was sent showed up in the open results, and the cat food offer was only advertised by email. In this case, the real open rate could be more like 80%.

Rate 

To compare performance across several campaigns you can use the RATE statistic, which is the number of opens expressed as a percentage of the total sent. In this first campaign, we had an open rate of 25%.

Over time, as our list keeps growing, we can still compare back to see if we are keeping our subscribers interested. The rate statistic can also be used to:

  • a/b test email titles and sending times
  • to compare readership between lists
  • and even to benchmark performance against industry averages. 

Summary

This Statistics Overview page is useful for comparing and contrasting the success campaigns. This can help you to improve your future campaigns. However, the statistics should not be taken too literally.

Feedback

You can discuss this chapter here.