Back in 2012, I presented the closing keynote address to more than 400 publishing executives at their annual conference in Washington, D.C.

I began the lunchtime keynote with a slide that read, “You’re all addicted to sex!” The clanging of knives and forks went silent as I watched people scramble to find their notebooks, open their laptops, or clean up the water they had just spilled on themselves.

I didn’t plan to start this way, but I had just spent three days sitting in on various sessions at the conference and listening to other speakers. Three out of every four presentations were focused on split testing different text colors and fonts in e-mails (HTML or plain text, size 12 or 14 headlines) as well as optimal sending times (Tuesdays or Wednesdays) and other assorted minutiae of marketing campaigns.

The companies presenting this data had certainly done some innovative and creative testing, but it was extremely worrisome to me to see how many businesses, large and small, online and offline, were more enamored with trying to determine whether it was better to send an e-mail at 10:14 a.m. or 10:36 a.m. than they were with ensuring that the e-mail had something interesting or relevant to say.

Interesting and relevant, being the key points.