What’s the most important deliverability statistic?

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Answer: Is there just one statistic that can truly tell you what you need to know about your e-mail marketing program success? Generally, I’d say that looking at numbers in a vacuum isn’t the best idea, but in the case of e-mail deliverability, there may just be such a number. There are several numbers that are important in judging overall deliverability health, including reputation score, bounce rates, opens and clicks; however, if you told me that I could only choose one number, I would take complaint rate.

Complaint rate is the ratio of e-mail complaints received per 1,000 e-mails sent. E-mail complaints happen when users click the spam button in their e-mail client and report you to their provider as having sent unsolicited e-mail. The number you want to try and achieve is less than a 0.2% rate. So you get only two complaints per thousand messages. That’s a pretty small number to achieve, but every complaint that you go over that threshold causes incremental damage to your e-mail reputation. A high complaint rate shows ISPs that your users do not wish to receive your communications.

If you are getting complaints, it generally means you have room for improvement. Take the feedback positively and try to improve. Look at your subject line, mailing frequency, content and the relevance of your messages. Consider sending a survey to determine recipients’ likes and dislikes.

Your complaint rate is a good reflection of recipients’ feelings about your e-mail program. Do what’s right to maintain a great e-mail reputation.

Kevin Senne is director, global production & deliverability services for Premiere Global Services (

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