Have We Gone Metric-Mad?

Tim Watson of Zettasphere, an eec Blog Contributor, is leading a session at the Email Evolution Conference in Miami this February with fellow DMA UK leaders Dela Quist of Alchemy Worx, Skip Fidura of DotMailer and consultant Kath Pay. Register today to receive the early bird discount (through January 14th) and to meet Tim and dozens of other industry luminaries. It's the best place this winter to learn how to make email and digital marketing more successful. Register now.

Open rate, acceptance rate, click rate, read rate, spam complaints, conversion rate, delete not read, inbox placement rate and more besides. Sure email has plenty of metrics. But have we let all these numbers distract us from considering what's actually important? Have we gone metric-mad?

All email experts agree customer engagement is important and the need for relevance, "right person, right time, right message", is almost a set phrase in email circles.

What is much less clear is what anyone really means by an engaged customer? How is engagement defined, how can you measure engagement?

Metrics are needed but optimizing the wrong metric can take you away from what's important to the business. Following the idea of "right person, right time, right message", does this means the focus is to get an open rate of 100%?

All businesses are hungry for revenue so any metric of customer engagement must consider whether the definition for an engaged customer also delivers a high value customer. Defining engagement in a way that does not maximise value is not in business interest.

The DMA in the UK has been debating this issue and looking at the evidence – brand marketing email data, to determine what is important and how to define engagement.

Thankfully there is a single metric that can be used to measure engagement . Here's a clue, it's NONE of the above metrics. On Thursday, February 7th at the EEC13 conference the question of definition of engagement is being debated. Based on analysis of data a single easy and measurable definition will be proposed.

By Tim Watson