New Engagement Metric Discussed By DMA Team

The UK DMA team has recently released a whitepaper discussing email engagement and also has defined a potentially better way to calculate engagement. Here is the whitepaper for your reference:


The purpose of the whitepaper is to kick start the discussion amongst email marketers on the best way to define and measure engagement. Engagement has been used as a term to define when a user is opening or clicking email marketing messages.


As discussed by the DMA, when people mention or report engagement they are commonly referring to:

  • Campaign open (or latterly read) rate
  • Campaign click rate
  • Campaign conversion rate

And rightly so they are questioning: Are these the right measures?

These metrics are very campaign focused and therefore when measured literally are only comparing campaign to campaign.


So what is the potential weakness in only measuring this way?

A campaign-based open rate doesn't take into account the customer base and how that is engaging over time. A customer may open your email once and still be engaged with your brand but doesn't open any other email that month, for example.


Also you can easily increase your campaign open rate by sending a segmented email - but you are not increasing the number of customers that opened. As pointed out in the whitepaper, although the campaign rate is higher (40% in the table below), the number of customers actually engaged is less.

Table showing higher open rate with a segmented campaign, but customers engaged is less.

"Pure open/click rate focus does not reflect the absolute level of interaction or revenue potential of the campaigns".


The DMA team has therefore defined a Engagement Metric that measures the following:

  • Customer interaction
  • Over time
  • Across the whole customer base

It is called Open Reach and is defined as:

Customers engaged over a period of time; a Month for example


And Open Reach Rate:

Customer engagement rate = customers engaged in month / number of mailable customers. Therefore how many people open an email in a month or a quarter, or a given period of time divided by number of mailable customers.


Same can be applied to clicks

Co-Author Della Quist from Alchemy Worx recommends that "The length of time that should be used to calculate open/reach depends on the sender’s frequency".


An important factor in defining a new metric is how to improve it. Increasing open reach means you have more customers opening email over time.

Thinking about the open reach strengthens the strategy of how you should communicate with customers that are not opening or clicking email. I believe that these customers should be communicated with differently early on - not waiting for the normal recommended amount of time of 6 / 8 / 12 months to send them a re-engagement campaign. And not 'removing' email addresses that don't open.



While I agree that this is a great way to measure customer engagement, I don't believe we should "move away" (as stated in the whitepaper) from campaign-based metrics because it still has its place in email marketing reporting.

Also repeat opens, i.e getting more opens per customer during a time period, should also be a consideration.


What does Kickdynamic do?

Kickdynamic uses open tracking for Email Analytics reports. We not only record a standard open, but how long email was opened for. We then categorise into 0-2 secs, 2-9 secs, 9 secs + . We term this 'Engagement' in our reporting. Engagement is tracked with reading environment such as mobile, tablet and desktop.


At Kickdynamic we have taken it upon ourselves to use the open reach metric in our Email Analytics reporting and you will see it live soon!

We are advocates of new ways to measure email marketing performance and love what the DMA have done here.


Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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