B2B Basics: A Judicious Mix of Technology, Timing, and Travel

Let’s start the new year right by getting back to basics. Today’s case study shows how a company that pays attention to fundamental principles can create a successful email marketing campaign.

Hachette Filipacchi Magazines owns 19 popular magazine titles, including Elle, Popular Photography, and Woman’s Day. The company spent a lot of time and money creating a classy set of Web sites but hadn’t put much effort — at that point — into using email to drive traffic there. So it fashioned a campaign designed to send media buyers to the new site.

Company officials first asked themselves why individuals would want to visit their site. Sure, it contained great information, but with so much competing for viewers’ time, that isn’t always enough. So they came up with an incentive. They decided on a sweepstakes, with a grand prize of a trip for two to a resort in the Caribbean. Media buyers were to be encouraged to visit the site, answer three questions, include contact information, and submit an entry.

With a plan in place, design considerations came next. Hachette turned to PackageWorks, an email marketing and communication firm. PackageWorks’s design staff created a flashy offer using Anemotion, the company’s proprietary technology, which creates graphically rich email. The technology uses Java script, so there is no need for users to download software. The offer starts with a Flash-like screen that is easier for you to see than for me to describe, so I’ll point you to it here.

The next consideration was the timing of the mailings. Hachette felt that with recipients so busy, it would be easy to lose individuals if it sent out only one email offer. So it came up with three different versions that contained the same basic info and mailed them out over a couple months. The first started with a brief glimpse of the company, then offered recipients the chance to “win a trip to a world of [their” own.” The second featured the sweepstakes up front, starting with, “Answer three questions, and you can have it made in the shade.” The third reminded readers, “Don’t miss the boat. Here’s your last chance to win a trip for two.”

Now it was time to send out the mailings. Hachette used its house list, built primarily by sales reps, to send the offer to about 1,500 recipients. Each email described why the recipient was sent the message. For instance, one version said, “You are receiving this email because you are on HFM’s preferred list of advertisers.” Each had easy-to-follow unsubscribe commands.

Following each mailing, Hachette was able to view online, up-to-the-minute stats, including the individual’s name, company name, and sweepstakes answers. The final results? About 300 unique individuals, or about 20 percent of the list, went to the site and answered the questions. Hachette says that it is pleased with the results and the way this campaign worked to separate out qualified leads.

Reader Requests

Last column, I asked you for ideas on what types of case studies you’d like to see. Here are some of your suggestions:

  • “I’d love to see more B-2-B coverage. Especially when the manufacturer sells through distribution channels and doesn’t have access to end-customer sales data (RFM data is not available).”
  • “3-D technology to display products.”
  • “As a frequent B2B direct marketing person, I am used to identifying my target market based on what their company’s demographics are (SIC codes, sales figures, and so on). However, as I do more and more email marketing campaigns, I am limited to opt-in emails that tell me the subjects/industries the subscribers have checked to receive. The only thing it provides, if I’m lucky, is his/her title and maybe geographical location… What do you recommend we do?”
  • “I would love to see a case study on merchants who offer full-priced consumer products via opt-in emails when there isn’t an incentive tied to the offer. I would like to see if there is anyone out there making opt-in email lists work without any type of incentive (e.g., free P&H, free gift with purchase, discounted offer, etc.).”
  • “A campaign with commerce-enabled email doesn’t come cheap, and as a one man operation I doubt if it could be cost-effective for my company. However, I love the concept. Any ideas on how it could be done on a small budget for the one-person operation?”
  • “Would you have any B2B email marketing case studies showing how changing from opt-out campaigns to opt-in campaigns was extremely beneficial for a company?”
  • “I would like to see some case studies on guerilla companies (marketing and email and the like) with fewer than 10 employees. [Our company” is a little dog trying to bark with the big ones, so we deal with this guerilla marketing struggle constantly.”

So how ’bout it? Little and big dogs alike, if you’ve been involved in any of these sorts of campaigns, please contact me.

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