“Why does my smart list count not match the Email Performance Report?” If there was a ranking for questions we hear most frequently, this would surely be near the top. I imagine the support team must answer this one all of the time.
Let’s take a look at why these don’t match up.
First of all, hopefully you know by now that opens is an absolutely awful metric to rely on. They depend on someone loading a small pixel in the email. If they have images blocked or if they read the email in a preview pane, we won’t be able to track that as an open. That’s a problem universal to all email senders.
Now, imagine that this person who has images blocked clicked on the email. Logic would dictate to us that they must have opened the email also. Our Email Performance Report has this logic built in. The activity log does not. So there will be no Opened Email activity recorded in the person’s activity log, but the report will count them as having opened. Bam, instant mismatch in counts.
But surely delivered is a reliable metric to look at in a smart list? Eh, not so much. Certain categories of soft and hard bounces only register after the delivered message. In this case, the activity log will show a Delivered activity followed by a Bounced activity. The report will register the person as delivered, but as soon as we get a bounced message, it will no longer count that email as having been delivered. This means your delivered numbers in your report could actually decline over time as we get more accurate information back from the email client.
The Basic Rules for Email Performance Report
- Each email activity can be one and only one status: delivered, hard bounced, soft bounced, or pending.
- If the email was opened, it counts as delivered.
- If the email was clicked or unsubscribed, it counts as delivered and opened.
- If the email was opened, we ignore bounce messages. If it was not opened, hard bounced wins out over soft bounced and delivered.
One final example. If you run a smart list for Opened Email, it would only show you a count for records that were in your database at that time. If you had previously deleted a record that had opened the email, the smart list would no longer count them. The email report, however, would still include that open in your count.
Moral of this story?
Your most accurate metrics are going to come from the email performance report.