Meaningless metrics

I’ve been having some conversations with fellow delivery folks about metrics and delivery and bad practices. Sometimes, a sender will have what appear to be good metrics, but really aren’t getting them through any good practices. They’re managing to avoid the clear indicators of bad practices (complaints, SBL listings, blocks, etc), but only because the metrics aren’t good.

This made me laugh when a friend posted a link to a Business Insider article about how many website metrics aren’t useful indicators of the business value of a website.  Then I found the original blog post referenced in the article: Bullshit Metrics. It’s a great post, you should go read it.

I’d say the concluding paragraph has as much relevance to email marketing as to web marketing.

Despite the internet’s evolution, bullshit metrics perpetuate a constant cycle of poor understanding. Let’s strive to understand how our businesses are doing and to pick better metrics–the harsher, the better. Let’s stop fooling ourselves with numbers that don’t represent reality. And let’s push the industry forward as a whole because collectively we’ll all benefit.

The sooner we can get away from opens as a useful email metric, the better the email industry is going to be.



  1. Bill S says

    Not sure why opens is not useful. I get that it has to be looked at within the limited context it provides, but I figure open metrics can be helpful when comparing across different e-mailing events.

  2. John B. says

    I agree with Bill. Opens are not a very tight metric, but they are one, when looked at with others, shed some light on deliverability. High opens help to indicate inbox delivery, little to no opens indicate junk mail. It’s an indicator. Combine that with other metrics and with each substantiating metric you get a more accurate picture.


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