Email That Sings

What would you do to increase your email marketing campaign’s sales revenue by 17 percent?

BMG Entertainment, the global music division of Bertelsmann AG, is a large direct marketing music club with online and offline presence. In a recent email campaign, BMG significantly increased sales by using a relatively new technology from Mobular Technologies.

Just before Valentine’s Day (that’s February 14, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this flowers-, music-, and chocolate-giving holiday), BMG decided to promote its database of love songs to its customer base. It took tens of thousands of customer email addresses and split them into two groups of equal size. One group received a standard HTML mailing. The mailing featured links back to the BMG site where browsers could scan titles, search by artist, and more.

The other group got something a little different. It received an email message that contained a small green box. Clicking on the box called up what looks like a sort of email catalog (BMG’s home page depicts what users saw within their email clients). From within the email message, recipients could search BMG’s selection of love songs, browse certain artists, and even sample some of the songs. Plus, to really put recipients in the mood, clicking on the green box caused Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to stream through their speakers.

That message was made possible by Mobular Engine from Mobular Technologies. Working behind the scenes, the engine first went out and spidered the BMG site, capturing information from the music database, such as title, description, and price. Then, when the recipient opened the Mobular email, the information was cached locally and searches could be conducted via the recipient’s machine rather than over the network.

Some interesting notes about this campaign:

  • As I mentioned earlier, those recipients who received the email message containing Mobular Engine accounted for a 17 percent increase in sales compared with those who received the standard HTML mailing.
  • Yes, size does matter, and you’re probably wondering about that. The control group’s HTML email message was 68 kilobytes. The test group’s email message contained a bit of code about 3 kilobytes in size that pointed to Mobular Engine, and those who opened the engine received an 88 kilobyte message.
  • While the click-through rate (CTR) for the engine was quite low — only 1 percent of those who received the Mobular Engine version actually clicked — 96 percent of those individuals used the engine and ended up clicking through to the BMG site. BMG wasn’t ready to discuss future campaigns, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future it sends out email that does not require users to click a box to start the engine. I’ll check in on this in a few months…
  • Search time for the control group was considerably longer than for the test group. Steve Reed, the director of marketing and product management at Mobular, did not have figures to release to us, but he notes that this was to be expected, for two reasons. One, searchers did not have to deal with network traffic. And two, typical site search engines include all sorts of information not related to e-commerce, such as press releases and details about the company, that takes time to search through.
  • In my opinion, this technology is ideally targeted toward companies, such as BMG, that have large databases of products and market to consumers who make impulse purchases. Reed notes that Mobular also is focusing on financial document distribution — for instance, companies that are attempting to deliver annual reports and other documents. Often done in PDF, these documents are typically large and hard to navigate. If you’re such a company and you’ve found another solution, I’d love to hear from you.

OK, that’s it for this week, with the exception of one small note. If you’ve sent email to me during the past couple of weeks, it’s likely that it bounced back to you. After struggling with my now-former Internet service provider to get the issue under control, I’ve switched providers and have a new email address. Please send any correspondence to Thanks!

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