Is Your Vendor Padding the Numbers?


Posted By: Chris O’Neill, VP, Business Development, Future Flow Media


There seems to be a large discrepancy between what many digital media vendors report and what they’re actually able to deliver.  This sets expectations for campaign performance way off base and lets dishonest vendors continue operating.

Let’s use some benchmarks for email campaigns as an example.

House list campaigns have the best performance because subscribers are so engaged with the brand they took the time to opt-in directly.  Average open rates are in the 20-40% range with click-through rates (CTR) in the 4-6% range (percentage of emails sent). (eMarketer, 2015)

3rd Party/Prospect/Rented list campaigns perform differently because though they opted in to receive offers via email, they don’t yet have the loyalty and rapport as the house list subscribers.  These campaigns average 9-10% opens and 1-1.5% CTR (percentage of emails sent). (eMarketer, 2015)

FYI: Email is still an amazingly effective tool to contact unreached or under-engaged audiences, IF you use the right partner with confirmed permission-based 3rd party opt-in data (no spam and no risk to your brand). 68% of consumers rate email as their number one method for staying in touch with businesses compared to just 5% via social media. (Constant Contact, 2015)

What happens when an email list rental vendor claims to have achieved 25% opens and 5% CTR on a campaign?

  1. They could be sending out more emails but not taking them into consideration on the report, artificially inflating the numbers.  If the order was for a 100k email drop, but they actually sent 300k (without telling you), the report would show 3 times higher open and click percentages.  Are those extra records targeted recipients or just random data to generate extra activity?
  2. I hate to say it, but there are companies out there that pay people for clicks or use some kind of bot to simulate email traffic.  The best thing to look out for when evaluating a new (or current) vendor is to simply ask yourself whether their claims make sense.  Are their performance promises, or campaign reports, somewhere near the ballpark of what industry benchmarks say they should be?
  3. There can be exceptions and homeruns with email campaigns, but not all the time.  The campaigns we run here at Future Flow Media average 10-15% opens and 1-2% CTR and periodically see higher results because of our optimization expertise.  Don’t be alarmed if you have a successful campaign, just be observant of what “normal” is and should be.  When you compare campaign metrics to industry benchmarks and it looks too good to be true, there’s probably something fishy going on.