More Metrics That May Lead You Astray

A few weeks ago I wrote an article talking about how marketers need to stop using the Delivered Rate as a performance measure and should in many cases look to reduce their Delivered Rates, not increase them!  But the Delivered Rate is not the only metric leading marketers astray.

Open Rates, Click Through Rates, even Inbox Placement Rates and Reputations scores are all misplaced focus points.  Ask yourself:  “Why am I tracking these metrics?”  To make more revenue right?  So it working?  Is your revenue up?  Are you making significantly more revenue since before you started tracking these things?

Companies are tracking these metrics expecting a direct line to their top line.  But that’s not how it works.  Delivered Rates, Inbox Placement Rates, even Click Through and Conversion Rates –none of these drive revenue, at least not the way you’re being lead to think they do.

Here’s the problem, all of these metrics can be manipulated in order to show success.  As we looked at in my last article, you don’t want a higher delivered rate –you want more mail delivered!  That could actually mean reducing your delivered rate so that you’re not being overly aggressive about removing subscribers.

But the same is true for everything else.  Do you really want higher Open rates, or do you want more Opens?  You can very easily increase your Open rate to 100 percent if you want to.  Just send your mail to the ten subscribers who faithfully open every single message you send.  Your Delivered Rate, Inbox Placement Rate, and Open Rate will all be a full 100 Percent.  You won’t make any money off your email program, but you’ll have some pretty impressive metrics to boast to your boss about.

It amazes me how many good marketers are falling for this madness.  Marketers are being super aggressive with their bounce suppression in order to boost up their Delivered Rates, they’ve “cleaned their lists” removing anyone who seemed unengaged in order to have clean Sender Reputations and a better chance of reaching the inbox (often without even knowing that the reason those subscribers were unengaged was because the emails were going to junk boxes!).

And what are the results?  Delivered Rates are high, but less mail is getting delivered.  Reputations have improved, but lists are smaller.  Mail has a better chance of reaching the inbox, but less people are being engaged.  Metrics are up, but list sizes, mail sent and subsequently revenue –well they’re all down.

Here’s my advice:

  1. Stop targeting for an extremely high delivered Rate.  Set your bounce suppression so that you’re removing hard bounces.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that Delivered Rate equates to Inbox Placement Rate –it doesn’t.
  2. Track your Inbox Placement Rate.  But don’t get tripped up here either.  Getting to the inbox is significantly easier if you’re going to be very conservative in your sending style –if you’re going to cut off the unengaged and only send to those who have been engaged within the past 12 months, and if you’re going to hold back on your sending frequency.  Remember getting to the inbox is a means to an end –it is not the end itself.
  3. Send more mail.  First off –not everyone on your list wants more mail from you –so before you start blasting everyone with more mail so you can make more revenue you need to get a better idea of what your subscribers can handle.  But the point is, maximize your email program –send more mail to those who can handle it, and send less mail where and when you have to –based on what your subscribers want –not just based on what helps you get to the inbox.
  4. Understand what your subscribers want.  Return Path clients use our extensive data assets to better understand what engages their subscribers.  They use this data to see what their competition does that is effective and uses this insight to better engage their subscribers –even the less engaged ones.
  5. Engage the unengaged (don’t just cut them off).  You spent money acquiring these subscribers.  And presumably they signed up for your email because they want it.  If they’re unengaged it’s your job to figure out why.  Is your mail going to their junkbox?  Do you have them segmented properly?  Are you sending to them too frequently?  Not frequently enough?  Why are they opening your competitor’s mail?

By following this advice you’ll be less concerned with your individual metrics and more focused on doing the things that will grow your list, get more mail in your subscriber’s inbox, and drive more opens, clicks and subsequently revenue.  You’ll have an email program that is optimized for revenue.

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