Call for Case Studies

Happy New Year! In honor of welcoming 2004, I’d like to solicit your input. I come across case studies in a variety of ways, but they tend to follow the same pattern. An email marketing firm emails me, saying, “Hey, we have this really great client. Want to write about them?”

Often I do. Today, however, I’d like to ask you about what you’re doing. This is a call for case studies, and I’m particularly interested in anyone who has experience in the following topics.

Sending E-Mail to AOL Users

Last year, I wrote a column about the “mysterious underperforming AOL email.” Since then, I’ve received a few reader emails on the subject, and I want to know where things stand.

Are you conducting email marketing campaigns that have a significant AOL audience? If so, what issues do you face? Do you have difficulties sending to AOL recipients? Have you found many users have upgraded to the latest version (9.0)? Have you been added to any white- or blacklists? Any stumbling blocks you’ve been struggling with or, better yet, found a way around?

E-Mail Marketing Versus Direct Mail

Occasionally, I get reader requests for statistics showing email marketing more cost-effective than direct mail. It’s fairly accepted around here that this is the case, but I’d like some information to back that statement up. Plus, I’d guess as the Internet has become overloaded with spam, the numbers and trends may have changed a bit. Because this is a column devoted to case studies, I’d like to present some anecdotal evidence — a case study or two — that shows when email marketing is more cost-effective.

E-Mail Marketing on a Low Budget

The majority of my case study pitches come from email marketing firms. We’ve gotten some wonderful case studies this way, but the campaigns tend to run on higher budgets. It costs money to hire the expertise these firms provide.

I’d like to present several current examples of how to run campaigns on a shoestring. If you’re a small company or a large company with a small budget, please consider sharing your experiences with the rest of us.

Subject Lines

Months back, I received the following email:

Wondering if you have any opinion, experience or know of any other sites/research I can review on the “science” of composing effective subject lines? For example, my client is the top-producer in a legal debt elimination program — not a bankruptcy and not a debt consolidation program, but a totally legal alternative. His sales strategy is leveraged by citing the applicable laws and legal precedents on which his program is based.

So, as I see it, I have two options here: 1.) I can use a deliberate subject line, something like, “Eliminate Your Credit Card Debt.” But this phrase is also used by persons promoting traditional debt consolidation programs as well, so it has become somewhat trite. 2.) Use a less deliberate, but more thought-provoking approach, such as, “Debtors: The Law Is On Your Side!” What do you think?

This is a really specific case, and it got me thinking about a range of subject lines. What have you found to be most effective? How did you test them? What have you learned regarding subject lines? Or, do you think they’re not all that important? How much have you experimented with the sender name and address? Has that made a difference?

Case Studies From Other Countries

Many of my readers send email from overseas, so I’d like to offer up some case studies from outside North America. My mail fluctuates; one month I’ll receive a lot of reader mail from Australia and New Zealand, and the next it will be from France and Italy. I think we’d all benefit from experiences in other markets.

Food- and Grocery-Related Case Studies

Lastly, this spring I’m speaking at a conference on email marketing to the food and grocery-store industries, and I’d greatly appreciate your sending any case studies from these sectors my way. Of course, I’ll share those case studies in my column, as well.

If you have a case study you’d like to share, please email me. I look forward to hearing from you in the new year!

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