SLP_03.10.2015Every Friday we run a test – the same newsletter is sent to two different e-mail lists and we track whether one is more likely to open and click on the offer than the other. For a year, we saw the same result over and over – the actual number of clicks from each send was nearly identical, but as a percentage of how many subscribers it was sent to, the smaller list always came out way, way ahead.

Why? Vanity metrics. The bigger list was appealing simply because we were acquiring so many names and not because the subscribers were particularly active or engaged. So we began sending to anyone who had been on that list longer than a year and hadn’t opened an e-mail in at least six months. The send had one simple call to action – click any link to keep receiving the newsletter. We ended up purging 37% of the names off the list.

It might be a much smaller list now, but we’re reaching people who actually want to hear from us and getting more reliable, actionable metrics as a result of each send. We now do monthly purges based on behavioral criteria to make sure we’re not carrying around any dead weight in our e-mail database.

Have you ever tracked a metric just because it looked good (or was rapidly improving) and not because the data had real meaning for your business? Share a story or tip in the comments!