Cracking the E-Mail Code

What will get your audience to click on an email is somewhat of a mystery. But increasingly, I find if you can come up with a premium or incentive that personally appeals to the business-to-business (B2B) reader, you may have yourself a hit.

A great example of an email with personal appeal crossed my desktop today from Symantec. The subject line immediately caught my eye: “Upgrade and see The Da Vinci Code for FREE–in theaters May 19th!” (Though it used the word “free” and an exclamation point, the email got through my three spam filters, I guess because I’m a Norton customer.)

The prospect of getting free movie tickets to a hit movie definitely got me to open the message.

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Inside was a fun creative payoff: a picture of the Mona Lisa as from the movie poster and the headline, “Protect Your Secrets,” in a cryptic-looking font.

When you upgrade your subscription, you get two movie tickets. That raised an interesting dilemma for me as a working parent: would I actually be able to use the tickets while the movie’s still in the theaters? After all, going to the movies when you have kids isn’t exactly an inexpensive affair, when you have to pay a babysitter $12 an hour (at Brooklyn rates) to go out for four or five hours. And would my husband want to see the film? Not likely.

Looking at the fine print at the bottom of the email, I learned the tickets could be used for any movie offered by Fandango from May 11 to June 30. That makes the offer a little more flexible.

Hopefully, my concerns won’t be an obstacle for most of Norton’s customers, but it’s something to consider when you plan an incentive.

Flipping through a magazine this weekend, I saw the campaign’s print ad, which had a different offer: a sweepstakes for a trip to Paris and the code to $100,000. That drove me to the Web site, which had even more offers: a $20 rebate and the Da Vinci Code Anagram game.

All the creative tied in wonderfully to the movie, with headlines like, “For Hackers, your personal information is the Holy Grail. Protect it.”

All in all, it’s a great campaign with a terrific movie tie-in. I’ll be interested in hearing the results if anyone out there has that info.

Will I upgrade my Norton Internet Security 2005 to the 2006 version as a result of this campaign? Probably not. I don’t have a compelling reason to update the software just now. But I was tempted and may still succumb if my tech support guy recommends it.

Other personally motivating premiums I see used a lot in conference email are free hotel room upgrades and resort spa certificates. These are easy to arrange with a hotel conference site, require no fulfillment costs, and are valued by business travelers who welcome a little extra pampering.

Mary Long, director of marketing at SourceMedia, says, “When we offer these hotel incentives with conference registration via limited-time email promotions, we usually see a definite lift in our response rates.”

Incentives like these offer something special B2B prospects might not normally buy for themselves, and are usually more appealing personally than yet another white paper. With rising gas prices and interest rates cutting into a lot of people’s entertainment budgets, you may find personal incentives are more of a draw than in the past.

What kind of incentives are you using successfully in your email? Contact Karen with your case studies.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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