E-mail or Newsletters? Why Not Both?

When clients first explore the idea of an email campaign, the question usually arises, “Should we do a straight sales email or a newsletter?” The discussion typically centers on the merits of one over the other.

As a recent case study from the London-based Tarsus Group demonstrates, it can pay to employ both. This international business-to-business (B2B) media group organizes the biannual Labelexpo Americas trade show, serving the label and narrow-web printing industry.

Alternating Weekly E-Mails Lifts Response

  • The sales email was a dedicated HTML mailer highlighting the basic show branding, dates, and venues. It reflected the overall design of the show’s Web site.

  • The email newsletter already existed. Labels and Labelling magazine, which supports Labelexpo, publishes an email newsletter, “Labels e-Flash,” twice monthly. For this campaign, the newsletter carried a text box devoted to relevant show messages.

Lists were derived from the show and magazine Web sites, both of which have opt-in email registrations. Depending on the geographical targeting and list source used, mail quantities ranged from 6,000 to 15,000.

The email messages varied in intensity, depending on the timing (a tip David picked up from one of our previous ClickZ columns!).

Initial messages were fairly soft: a simple “reserve the date,” followed by a review of what could be found on the show’s Web site. As the date drew closer, copy focused on specific event highlights, such as new exhibitor innovations, and the conference agenda. In the final weeks, messages focused on a pre-registration call to action, including discount dates, reminders to book hotels before they filled up, and a “see you at the show” message sent the week before the show.

Prior to the first email broadcast, daily visitors to the Web site were in the low hundreds. The day the first message was sent, visits jumped to 2,762. The Labels e-Flash results were even better: 3,956 visitors immediately after the first broadcast. The pattern repeated after every broadcast. Site readership dropped into the low hundreds between mailings but spiked immediately after one. On average, the campaign generated a 33 percent CTR, in some cases closer to 60 percent.

Online registrations doubled the first week. Although online registrations from email weren’t fully tracked, booking patterns showed a favorable trend. In the week immediately following the first email broadcast, online registrations doubled. They were only beaten by offline registrations once, following a large direct mail (DM) and insert hit. Overall, 60 percent of registrations were generated online, due in large part to the email campaign.

Key Findings

  • Weekly messages did not result in “mailing fatigue,” which usually occurs in traditional DM when lists are over-mailed.

  • Short copy worked best for sales email. The editorial style in the e-newsletter permitted slightly longer copy.
  • The e-newsletter delivered higher response rates than sales emails.

Future Implementations

The campaign successfully raised Tarsus’s profile. Future efforts will include:

  • Opt-in collecting email for all show sites.

  • Testing response rates between DM and email on a list-by-list basis. If email marketing proves more effective, savings in print, postage, and fulfillment will be substantial.
  • Promoting Web site advertising to exhibitors based on increased traffic.
  • Timing email messages so campaigns start 12-14 weeks out from a show, synchronized with offline promotions.

David reports he’s been able to lift response for other Tarsus Group shows, ranging from bottle filling and decoration to European employment policy, using a similar email approach.

Thanks, David, for such a detailed case study. Specifics like these help us all plan our own B2B email marketing campaigns more effectively. Readers, keep those case studies coming! Send them to Karen.

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