Track hidden metrics

When companies are measuring success, many fail to account for hidden metrics.

Direct marketing campaigns fail to account for the number of people they upset by sending them “spam.” When people count how many others “liked” something online, they fail to account for the number of people who “disliked” it.

Take Levi’s. I love Levi’s – five of my six pairs of jeans are Levi’s. But when I recently bought on, they pulled that old trick of opting me in to receive their direct mail without my informed consent. Either they did it without telling me, or the option was so obscure that I didn’t see it (and trust me, I looked).

Now this:

I consider this borderline spam. Levi’s are killing their relationship with me and they have no idea. For every person they send a mail to, I’m sure they are only counting the people who respond.

“We only need a 1% response rate to justify our spend! Isn’t that great?”

But Levi’s, how many of the other 99% have you pissed off in the process?

By the way, I bought my first pair of Diesels last weekend.

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  1. Problem is: if you can’t easily measure the negative effect no one will pay attention. How can you demonstrate to Marketing depts if it’s not in their interests to do this?

  2. You can measure the negative effect of campaigns like these to some degree by processing the reports sent back to the sender when recipients mark your email as spam. It’s called a “feedback loop”, and it can save a lot of places which do automated alerts from winding up on blacklists when users are too lazy to properly unsubscribe:

  3. It doesn’t cease to amaze me that direct marketing is still alive in this day and age – especially snail mail direct marketing, which on top of everything is so environmentally unfriendly. I try to call one company a month and ask to be taken off the list.

    I hope you didn’t buy your Diesels online – and if you did, I’m curious if they, too, think you need another pair of jeans every few hours.

  4. Thanks for thoughts, Paul.
    Classic mail marketers, with broadly defined targets, do spam. Spammers spam on email. It gets results… sometimes, unfortunately. I expect there’s a louche marketing mantra like “The 95 to 5 rule”, or “Those who hate it, love it”…

    But some DM companies, especially in the not-for-profit sector, do target very carefully and they do a necessary, good job.

    As for the junkies, if it was environmentally friendly, we should just save up a company’s junk mail, pop it in a big envelope and send it right back to the Chief Executive of the company. I heard that this used to work wonders in the olden times as the junk just magically dried up.

  5. Most marketeers spam their products to any potential buyers. So if they are able to obtain a certain individual’s email especially when he is an online buyer of products then the tendency is that they will send multiple spams. Anyway, most e-mail services have the function to filter such type of emails.

  6. If you believe that your customer’s time and attention are precious things, then the loss of that (I see you’re no longer opening the Levis emails) should be of great concern – and have a real cost associated. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that 5 consecutive unopened emails over a month means you’ve lost that customer – for levis this might mean $100 revenue per year.

    Let’s assume a 10% marketing budget to attract new customers or $10 per year per customer. Therefore an internal cost of $2 per unopened email might then be accurate and reasonable. Imagine how quickly marketing practices would change if we applied this time and attention tax? This budget could then be used to fund initiatives that help understand customers and their needs better. Hell, you could even fund some testing.