In a recent blog post, Jim Sterne, founder and chairman of the Web Analytics Association, responds to a post in the Harvard Business Review that claims measurement-driven culture kills innovation. In his article, Sterne makes the simple rebuttal: “data is not the enemy.” He’s right.

Theo Jansen's "walking sculptures"Why do we so badly want to separate science from art? Why can’t observation spark innovation? Consider Dutch artist and scientist Theo Jansen’s beautiful kinetic sculptures — his walking creatures that “live” on the beaches in Europe. He “evolves” his new creatures by carefully observing the success of existing ones —how long they “live,” whether they “survive” the wind, and if they strand themselves in the surf. He then constructs new creatures based on those observations. Does the fact that he measures imply his work lacks vision?

We always encourage our clients to measure the effects of our solution for a return on their investment. But the most interesting client success stories we collect present data around unexpected findings that sparked further investigation. For example, in a recent blog we outlined how eSpares found that the traffic to the site from persons clicking to “Read Reviews” link on an e-mail’s featured product out-weighted that of the “Buy Now” button in the e-mail by 2.5 times. And eSpares is not the only client who reported unexpected, incremental sales this quarter…

  • An apparel/accessories manufacturing client sent an e-mail requesting reviews. The incremental revenue from the traffic returning to the site was $13,123.
  • Orvis launched a post-purchase e-mail requesting review volume. In just 10 days, this lead $2,057.00 in additional sales from persons returning to the site.
  • A consumer electronics manufacturing client sent an e-mail announcing the launch of Ratings & Reviews and soliciting content. The traffic returning to the site to leave reviews had a 3.48% sales conversion rate, which generated $8,396 of revenue.
  • An apparel/accessories retail client launched a post-purchase e-mail requesting reviews. As a result of incremental sales from that traffic, each e-mail is generating an average of $0.25.

What assumptions about e-mail does this potentially challenge? For one, this shows that transactional e-mails can generate sales. Look at the structure of your transactional e-mails. Could a subtle change to your primary call-to-action help generate incremental sales? And is your proposed “subtle” change appropriate so as not to lose the transactional flavor of the e-mail?

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