For StubHub, Certified E-mail is the Ticket

Frustrated with how spam and phishing have turned people into quick-draw gunslingers of their e-mail delete buttons, some companies have given up on e-mail marketing. StubHub didn’t want to be one of them.

The eBay-owned online ticket marketplace has a number of relatively successful e-mail newsletter it wants to continue distributing. However, StubHub executives have become increasingly unhappy about how ISP spam- and phishing-blocking efforts were turning its e-mails into wasted effort.

StubHub E-mail Marketing Manager Albert Lee said he and his colleagues were particularly chagrined about the newsletter’s fate when sent to those who use AOL as their ISP. He said about a fifth of the newsletters sent to AOL users were blocked by the company’s filters.

StubHub uses San Bruno, Calif,-based Responsys to manage its e-mail marketing campaigns. It sends out an average of two to three e-mails a week. Additionally, it sends regionalized e-mail twice monthly promoting upcoming events and it also has genre-based, monthly campaigns targeted to users who asked for them.

StubHub decided to test CertifiedEmail, a token-based, paid e-mail solution offered by Goodmail. After signing on with Goodmail, StubHub saw e-mail delivery and response improve greatly, said Lee.

StubHub conducted a side-by-side test in December, running one version of an e-mail campaign that doesn’t use Goodmail with one that did. The result was a 26 percent lift in open rates and a 17 percent lift in ticket orders.

Once it implemented CertifiedEmail more widely, StubHub also enjoyed a 36 percent increase in sales that could be directly attributed to its use of CertifiedEmail.

“The best part is we basically didn’t get any AOL blocking at all,” said Lee. “We can now successfully deliver to our AOL customers.”

Kirill Popov, senior manager of ISP relations and deliverability at Responsys, said a big benefit of CertifiedEmail is that it enables marketers like StubHub to successfully deliver all the links and images associated with their e-mail campaigns.

Jordan Cohen, senior director of industry relations for Goodmail, insists “e-mail, as a marketing medium, is not going away.” Neither are spam or phishing, and Cohen acknowledged these practices have put a dent in e-mail’s image as a marketing tool.

“I’ve had the ability to watch the industry over the years,” he said. “I think e-mail is thriving. There were naysayers saying SMS was going be death of it. But here we are in 2008 and it commands ever more respect in the marketing toolkit in terms of the power it has.”

StubHub has no plan to abandon its e-mail marketing efforts. “Overall for us, as long as we continue seeing improved results year over year, it is hard to deny e-mail is here to stay,” said Lee. As for the cost of using CertifiedEmail, “it’s worth the expense,” he added.

Related reading