Going On A Data Diet

Last week Brian Ellefritz outlined five key tips to selecting the right offer. Tip #3--"Know how your offer will be used and measured"--is an important and necessary part of an offer strategy, but was also a reminder to me that I've succumbed to measurement myopia.

So I've decided to go on a diet--a data diet. In an email world of bounces and conversions, people who click 67% more when mailed on Tuesdays and people who never click when it's raining, I've lost sight of what's important. I'm bloated by bounces, overindulgent with opens. To paraphrase a tired old cliché (the best kind), I can't see the strategic forest for the tactical trees.

There's no doubt metrics are critical to assessing the health of an email campaign, identifying new opportunities in segmenting and messaging and optimizing programs for future success. But with more and more data available and easier than ever to access and manipulate, it can be hard to differentiate between the interesting "so what" and the actionable "now what" when assessing the overall value of a program.



  • Define program success measures upfront and identify the relevant metrics. Seems pretty simple--but many people launch their programs with success goals and don't check to ensure they have the metrics to measure those goals. While tactically we rely on deliverability, open rates, click-to-opens and unsubscribes to optimize, strategic metrics include cost per click, cost per lead, average order and other metrics that often rely on data from other systems. As you're establishing success measures, make sure you can access this type of data.

  • Track those key metrics over time and keep them consistent. Whether through a corporate dashboard, a program scorecard or an Excel worksheet, monitor your designated success metrics regularly. Keep the methodology and the metrics consistent so you can quickly read how your tactics and testing are impacting your overall program performance.

  • When data mining, ask the hard question. Which is: "What will we do with this information to improve our program?" It's easy to become enamored with a nugget like 27-year old beach volleyball players in zip code 67701 have higher conversions, but how can that be applied back to your program strategically? Look for trends in your data, but continually ask yourself "is this actionable?" to stay on track.

    Like chocolate, red wine and Thanksgiving dinner, it's good (and healthy) to indulge in data analysis now and again. And maybe even to overindulge on special occasions. But for using data to inform your overall email strategy, another tired old cliché applies: everything in moderation.

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