12Measurement and OptimizationCreating a Framework and Moving Your Own Goalposts

Let's first clarify one major land mine. Any conversation on measurement and the email channel should begin at this critical point: open rates and click-through rates (CTR) are almost irrelevant numbers. Not only should they not be your default method of quantifying success; they're becoming even less relevant over the next 3 to 4 years. Although your problems will initially manifest in email open and click metrics, you won't be able to determine the source of the problem without further information. If the metaphorical canary dies, stop what you're doing and fix the bigger systemic problems you have.

Why do we start with this conversation around such a specific channel and generally accepted metric? For the simple reason that taking our thinking beyond our current approach also means we need to reengineer our metrics. We cannot measure how we execute in the future by how we did things in the past. If this is our default approach, then we're not pushing ourselves hard enough.

For example, let's say your baseline open rate is 22 percent, and your click-through rate (CTR) is 12 percent. Those would be solid numbers for most email marketing programs; but there are a ton of issues that can hide behind such high-level numbers. Ask yourself this slightly existential (but absolutely relevant) question: What about the other 78 percent? What are you missing in a value proposition to that large percentage ...

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