Measuring the effect of viral email marketing

chart-arrowEmail marketing is a powerful channel that allows marketers to measure virtually every interaction with their prospects. But whether you want it or not, there are still things that cannot be measured 100% accurately. Although some measurements can be considered as reliable, the truth is that it is only a rough estimate of what really happened.

Encouraged by a specific marketing message or driven by the fantastic business of the e-mail campaign, people sometimes forward the email to new prospects. This is called the viral effect. It would be great if this viral effect could be measured – imagine how great it would be to know how many times your message was forwarded. Better still, to whom …

Yes … it is possible.
But only if the email is forwarded via a specially designed form on your website. By using this technique, you can store the email address of the sender and the receiver. This gives you a nice overview of who read and forwarded your email and how many times this was done. Note that you cannot start sending communications to the person who received the forwarded message. You will still have to comply with opt-in email regulations and get the consent from the viral prospect.

The viral marketing reporting myth.
Even though it is the most used form for tracking viral marketing, IP address tracing is not a very reliable technique. When we open html email messages, it is possible to trace how many times an email was opened from a particular IP address.

When an email is opened multiple times from multiple IP addresses you might conclude that this is the number of times the email was forwarded to different prospects, but this is not the case!

Most Internet Service Providers use a dynamic IP addresses for their Internet connections. This means that it is perfectly possible that the IP address you have been assigned today, will be used by your neighbor tomorrow. A similar issue occurs on company networks, even though they usually have a static IP address, this address can be used by all employees of the company, making it impossible to use IP tracing to measure how many times this e-mail was passed on within the company.

IP tracing and opened html measurements only give you an indication of the real impact of the viral e-mail marketing campaign. This reporting technique can not be regarded as accurate, but can only be used to indicate what the viral impact of the campaign was.

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