Email Metrics, Good and Bad: One Marketer's Story

I had a good meeting this morning with one of our long-time multi-channel retailer clients who is in town for’s Annual Summit. Over the course of our conversation, she relayed two things going on in her world of email marketing at the moment that bear repeating (with her permission, of course).

First, the good. In a recent study, our retailer hero determined that customers who receive their email newsletters and offers (not even open/click, just receive) spend on average 3x as much on in-store purchases than their non-email counterparts in any given week or for any given campaign. Talk about deriving non-email or non-click value from your email marketing efforts!

Second, the bad (ok, well, it’s the ugly as well). Our retailer hero was just nailed by Spamhaus because someone out there complained about a transactional email he or she received from the retailer. She estimates that the poor Spamhaus listing is costing her millions of dollars a year in lost sales from regular customers. The email was literally about a refund that the retailer owed the customer (why there was a complaint — who knows?). What did Spamhaus suggest the retailer do? Repermission their list around transactional messages — “or else.” Seems to me that that’s a pretty tough stance to take on rather shaky evidence and with no appropriate dispute resolution mechanism (e.g., one that’s not just tuned to mailers’ interests, but one that’s fair in the broadest sense of the word). No wonder Spamhaus is being sued, and no wonder the vigilante blacklist providers of the world are losing traction with ISPs and corporate system administrators. Authentication and real, professionally run reputation systems with ample amounts of representative data, feedback loops, and dispute resolution mechanisms will ultimately win the day over the vigilantes of the world. Folks like Spamhaus can get things right lots of the time and in fact do provide a valuable cog in the global world of spam fighting, but they’re less great at making amends when they don’t.

So email continues to have its challenges around filtering and deliverability…but how cool is it that marketers are really sinking their teeth into metrics that prove how effective the email channel is for driving sales, both online and offline?

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