Farewell to the inexact science of estimated forwards

Very soon we're going to remove our reporting statistic known as 'estimated forwards'.

You may well know it. You might even make use of it. It features in specific campaign reports, in the engagement section of account reports, and within the API.

The statistic reports on when we believe an individual has forwarded a campaign using their email client and to how many different people.

Why we’re removing it

‘Estimated forwards’ was just that – an estimate. Or, as time progressed, more of a guesstimate. And as metrics go, that’s not the best type.

It was first created way back in 1999. Think about it: that’s not even in the 21st century! Back then though, the way we calculated an estimated forward made a lot of sense: check if the IP address or device the recipient opened the email on is different to their first open, and, if they differ, then count it as an estimated forward.

However, this is the year 2016. And whilst people may not quite be wearing silver suits and holidaying on Mars, they almost certainly no longer have just one device like they did back then (and that was probably just a computer). Nor do they check their email just once or twice a day as they did then.

Now, people are more than likely to have multiple devices and this means within a matter of minutes a single recipient could open the same email on their laptop, mobile, tablet and watch! Currently this reports as one original open and three estimated forwards, which is inaccurate and misleading.

In short, the ‘estimated forwards’ reporting statistic and the method by which we arrive at it has been outgrown. That is why it’s going.

Don’t confuse it with the ‘forward to a friend’ statistic, however. This is when a recipient uses our native ‘forward this email to a friend’ link and enters their friend’s email address. There’s no need to estimate with that! So it stays.

And after all, there’s plenty of alternative engagement reporting statistics

We feel confident you won’t miss the estimated forwards statistic. Remember – there’s still opens, forwards to a friend and social network views. This means you’ve got several other accurate, reliable engagement statistics, in comparison to a metric which was far from perfect.

Time to say goodbye

This will be removed on Wednesday 27 April as part of our scheduled maintenance and upgrade of dotmailer. Any API requests that return the estimated forwards statistic will return a 0 in future, ensuring any existing integrations won’t suffer due to expecting this data.

If you have any further questions about this then please don’t hesitate to contact either your account manager or support@dotmailer.com.

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