While I admit that I’ve learned to value data and metrics more in my decision making, I still think metrics can go very, very wrong. People can be misrepresented when they are reduced to a set of data points, and companies can make insanely stupid mistakes relying on numbers instead of common sense. Case in point:

When one set of Grant’s parents visited us during the summer, we happened upon an adorable little Bainbridge Island winery that was doing a tasting. We enjoyed it so much that we actually subscribed to their mailing list (a VERY rare thing, at least for me). However, I kept receiving emails from them with the subject line that just read “Wine tasting at” or “Release party at”—nothing to follow that very leading preposition. Weird, weird, weird. I kept almost unsubscribing because the messages almost looked like spam, and just got under my skin with how unprofessional they seemed.

But instead of opting out, one day I took pity and figured that their expertise was in wine and not MailChimp. So I pinged them back and said that I’d noticed their weird subject lines, and worried it was a mistake they weren’t aware of. And you know what they replied? Nope, it’s totally intentional—their MailChimp analytics showed that more people opened messages with “Wine tasting at” than “Wine tasting at [Name Of Winery],” so they just assumed that those were much better subject lines to craft. It hadn’t even occurred to them that there might be a problem with the atypical wording.

Hey, maybe they’re right. Maybe nobody else on their list minded, and the analytics were on to something. But to me, the sloppy/weird impression that they made detracted from any spike in opening. Besides, wouldn’t you think it’d help boost your brand’s awareness if you actually mentioned the name of your business and got that in people’s minds? Anyway. Ever since I bugged them about it, I saw two more weird “-at” subject lines and then never again. Maybe I changed their mind; maybe I didn’t. But I know this sure seemed like a very silly case of metrics over basic logic to me!

I’m in the process of renaming my business right now, which sucks, but it’s interesting to see all the tools and suggestions for how to go about this process. The tools I do NOT plan to rely upon are the search/keyword metrics—I’ll use those for SEO, sure, but not the actual business name. (You should SEE some of the queries, guys.) Not only are SEO-happy names harder to trademark or copyright, but they just sound too generic to me—I want you to find me easily on Google, but I don’t want to be a creepy autocomplete phrase.