Q. What’s a Proven Way to Boost E-Mail Sales?

A few months ago, some really exciting business-to-business (B2B) event marketing email started coming from a client of mine, SourceMedia. It included some terrific interactive quizzes.

On one hand, I was thrilled. I thought, “That email training session I presented to the marketing staff really paid off!” During our session, I had showed the conference division’s marketing managers a gamut of email approaches they could use to maintain a high view rate for their event marketing campaigns, including quizzes.

On the other hand, I was dismayed. “These messages are so good,” I mused. “I wonder if they hired another copywriter?” But they had no copywriting budget, which was why I was training the marketing managers to write their own email messages rather than write them myself.

So I called Mary Long, who was then director of marketing, to find out where these out-of-the-inbox email messages were coming from. (Mary’s now president of her own marketing firm, Mary Long Marketing.)

I was excited to learn my hunch was right: the marketing managers were coming up with these easy-to-write quizzes on their own. They were getting great response rates, too.

Check out this quiz email written for SourceMedia’s Subprime Lending Symposium. According to Long, it achieved the following results when sent to prospective attendees:

  • Unique open rate: 20 percent (about average for prospects)

  • Click-through: 5 percent (about four times higher than average)
  • Actual sales: Nine conference registrations (a huge increase in registrations over its usual email registration rates)

As you can see, the quiz email and its landing page with the answers are both short and sweet. So writing this type of email is a breeze for busy marketing managers.

Here’s another quiz email, which achieved results similar to the first one.

Yet successful as this quiz approach has proven to be, Long cautions against overuse. “The reason the quizzes work so well is because they are a novelty,” she noted. “We only use one quiz per campaign, varying them with other approaches that we have found to be effective.”

I’ve seen different types of quiz email messages work very well. For a tech conference, I created a multiple-choice quiz. No matter how the reader responded, the answer offered a compelling reason to attend the conference. If the reader’s response indicated she was a novice with the technology, copy focused on the pre-conference tutorials. If the response indicated she was an advanced user, the copy pointed out the event’s expert-level sessions. Not too surprisingly, the response rate to this email quiz exceeded expectations.

For another technology conference, we created a trivia quiz just for past attendees. In this case, we came up with questions about the event’s unique features that only alumni of the event would know and highlighted new reasons to return to the summit. Again, the quiz engaged readers and resulted in above-average registrations.

There’s no question email quizzes are a great format. But they may not be the answer for every email marketing campaign. The only way to know for sure is to test, test, and test.

C’mon, let’s keep the email space exciting! Send Karen samples of your most innovative campaigns so we can spark some new ideas.

Related reading