Metrics & Chill Podcast

How Seventh Sense Improved their Active Audience Rate by 17 Percent

In this episode of the Metrics & Chill podcast, Mike Donnelly, founder and CEO at Seventh Sense, talked about the right way to measure and improve one important email marketing metric: active audience with email.

Rachael Bassey Rachael Bassey on May 21, 2021 (last modified on August 19, 2021) • 3 minute read

A recent episode of the Metrics & Chill podcast saw John Bonini chat with Mike Donnelly, founder and CEO at Seventh Sense. Mike shared how they revived their declining active audience rate by 17%, the tactics they employed, and the lessons learned along the way.

Considering the number of emails we receive every day, sending an email in 2021 may sometimes feel like you are waving your hands up and down, while remaining unnoticed. Luckily, an email delivery optimization system like Seventh Sense helps with elevating your visibility in your recipients’ inbox — making Mike suitable to talk about why active audience is an important metric to track and what can be done to improve it.

Read on for more details, or listen to the full episode here:

The Metric: Active Audience

Active audience metric became of keen interest to the team at Seventh Sense when they started seeing lots of issues with the existing customer base, and larger customers who experienced what the team at SeventhSense perceived as “inboxing or deliverability challenges”.

To understand the problem and overcome those challenges, they started building out this metric.

But why focus on active audience out of all the email marketing metrics that are maybe easier to track?

In Mike’s opinion, “most marketers measure email incorrectly.” 

Mike explains that marketers measure the performance of their email marketing campaigns on a micro-level, i.e “How did this one email perform? What was my open rate? What was my click rate? What is my click-through rate? But that only tells you so much.”

Because in Mike’s opinion, “not every single email is meant to be open or clicked.”

So, that’s where active audience comes in. 

Active audience measures performance over a specific time frame, for example, how much of your email audience engaged in at least one email that you sent to them.

Related: 6 Often-Overlooked Email Marketing KPIs You Should Be Tracking

The Opportunity to Grow Active Audience

For the team at Seventh Sense tracking Active audience wasn’t as important initially because they had high engagement rates (or high active audience rate).

But they started to see a decline over time. 

“We didn’t want to get ourselves into a situation where we’re an email delivery optimization company. And now our emails are starting to go to spam.”

So they started tracking this metric and also taking some necessary steps.

Email Segmentation as the key driver in improving Active Audience

A huge area of investment that Mike and the team made, and continue to make is to try and predict on an individual basis.

So, in order to get active audience rates up while also making sure that they’re not emailing people at too high a frequency, they decided to segment their email subscribers based on their email activity levels.

  • For inactive email audience: They decided to take them off their email list, and every once in a while do a reactivation campaign for them
  • For passive email audience: They decided to change up the frequency 
  • For active email audience:  Keep the same pattern

Over time, people can move between these different segments depending on their activity level.

The Results

So, what is a good active audience benchmark?

According to Mike, When it comes to measuring active audience: 

  • Below 15% active audience might be an indication that you have an inboxing challenge. 
  • 15% to 30% is an indication you need to improve your email segmentation strategy. 
  • If your active audience is anywhere from 30% to 50%, you’re doing a good job!
  • And above 50% is an indication you need to be sending a lot more emails, more aggressively.

And for the team at Seventh Sense, they were hovering between 42 to 45%. But then they started declining into the high twenties and decided to segment their emails as a way to recover.

This led to their active audience rate improving by 17% and has since remained consistent. Now they’re back up to 45%.

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About the author
Rachael Bassey
Rachael Bassey is a community development specialist at Databox. She believes our silenced stories can change the world if shared. She loves to travel, volunteer and capture moments with her camera.
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