E-mail metrics not standardized: JupiterResearch

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There is a lack of industry standards when measuring e-mail metrics, according to a new study by JupiterResearch.

The study, "E-mail Marketing Measurement," found that despite 45 percent of e-mail marketers claiming to be satisfied with e-mail vendors' methodology for determining metrics, there is no standard. According to Dave Daniels, analyst at JupiterResearch, New York, the firm found similar inconsistencies in measurement in a report published in 2004. This study also found that most vendors tend to have their own way of measuring.

"Unfortunately, it is a political thing," Mr. Daniels said. "Marketers make choices based on that metric, so vendors are concerned about … changing their system and having poor metrics. But metrics are meaningless unless you know the methodology behind them."

It is not just a lack of vendor adoption, however. Mr. Daniels said that marketers don't always know where to start. This, coupled with busy marketing schedules and a lack of staff, has contributed to the ongoing failure to address the issue.

These findings complement those of the Email Experience Council published in "The State of Email Metrics and Bounce Management." That study found a significant variance in how senders calculate metrics for delivery, open and click rates. This lack of consistency in calculating performance metrics creates a challenge when trying to establish industry benchmarks or compare results.

The first step in establishing a standard, Mr. Daniels said, begins with the marketer.

"All business is local," he said. "Marketers are putting too much importance [on] looking at their peers. What is good for Overstock - whose business model is based on sending multiple e-mails [every] day about last-minute deals - is different than somebody like Target. If Target started sending e-mails at that rate, they'd infuriate a lot of people."

But the responsibility does not lie with the marketer alone. The industry should also take action.

"There needs to be a conference just like during the FTC-rule-making period," Mr. Daniels said. "The same thing is happening with deliverability. There is a forum for that, so I think there needs to be something in that format to deal with the issue of the standardization of metrics."

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