Thursday, April 30, 2009

Email A/B Test Adds $6m to Funding Pipeline!

I wanted to share the astonishing results of an A/B test we recently created for one of our financial clients.


Email A: $0 added to their funding pipeline
Email B: $6m added to their funding pipeline

Guess what – the two emails were exactly the same, except for one small shift.

Here are the 2 emails:

Email A: $0 add to funding pipeline

Email B: $6m added to funding pipeline

"Hi Steve,

I wanted to make sure you received my email below. As I am sure you are aware, in today’s financial market it is more important than ever to ensure your company's liquidity and increased borrowing resources.

Let me know a good time to reach you to discuss how we can become a competitive financial resource for your company."

(Note: The actual copy was slightly different, again for confidentiality, but you get the idea).


Bob Smith
Financial Consultant
Company XYZ
(555) 123-4567

Clearly adding a personalized message from the sales rep above the same email generated a much, much better response!

BTW: This was a marketing-driven email, which dynamically plugged in the appropriate sales rep's email address in the FROM field, as well as inserted the sales rep's signature in the email (thanks to Eloqua). The sales reps never actually sent these.


  • Even though there was a "CONTACT US" link in the body of the email offer, most of the responses actually came from customers either REPLYING to the email itself
    (which sent an email directly to the sales rep) or just calling the sales rep directly, using the phone number which appeared in their signature. Needless to say, the sales reps LOVED this!

  • We added "FWD:" in the Subject Line of Email B to further the appearance that the email was actually being sent from the sales rep.
Final Thoughts

This is definitely something you should test yourself. But be cautious in overusing the "FWD:" in the subject line. I have seen many blatant fakes using this technique. It is very easy to spot those emails that simply add "FWD:" to the subject line. But if you do it correctly, as in this case the results can be astonishing.

Another example of the power of simple A/B testing!

And another great example of how marketing automation benefits sales!

Steve Kellogg
-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
-Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Best Day(s) to Send Email

The answer to this question, as with most things is: "It depends."

It used to be the general consensus that Monday was the WORST day to send emails, so as a result the volume of Monday emails went way down.

But then suddenly Monday became the BEST day to send email, since the volume was so light!

I found a good list of pros and cons in sending email for each day of the week, which appeared on the 60-Second Marketer, written by Jenn Abecassis.

Monday -
Pros: Office work has not filled inboxes yet.
Cons: People are in “work mode” and won’t be focused on non-work tasks.
Best Practice: Send emails late Monday morning, after people have cleaned the weekend spam from their inboxes.

Tuesday -
Pros: People have organized their week, and can find personal time for emails.
Cons: Emails poised for a weekend response may be too early.
Best Practice: Use Tuesday for emails that request action during the workweek.

Wednesday/Thursday -
Prose: People are planning their weekends and gearing up for personal time.
Cons: Time during the workweek is running short, and requested action may be pushed back to the following week, or even forgotten about.
Best Practice: Focus leisure and weekend notifications during these key weekend planning days.

Friday -
Pros: Studies indicate fewer total emails sent compared to the rest of the week, increasing visibility among the myriad of other messages.
Cons: People hurry to leave the office early, and may not take time to view non-work related emails.
Best Practice: Send emails early in the day to give consumers more time to take action. An unopened email from Friday will sort to the bottom of an inbox on Monday, and is often discarded.

Weekends -
Pros: People check emails on weekends, too, so weekends may have untapped potential.
Cons: A weekend email may seem overly-intrusive to some people.
Best Practice: If possible, try to avoid Sundays and focus on Saturdays, which may have a better response rate. (SK: Actually, if you are B2C, I would test Sundays myself -- we used to get great response on Sunday).

So, The BEST way to move forward is to:
  1. Use the guidelines above in making an initial educated guess
  2. Test to see whether your guess was right or not
  3. Once you've got the best day nailed down, try experimenting with what time of day works best
  4. Make sure you maintain accurate reports so you can benchmark your results moving forward. This is a good measurement of marketing effectiveness

Steve Kellogg
a Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
a Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Subject Line Lengths

In my last post we talked about how the Subject Line is the 2nd most critically reviewed criteria in evaluating whether your email gets read or deleted.

While there is still some debate about how long or short an email subject line should be, the real challenge is making what’s actually visible to the reader as interesting and enticing as possible.

So, here is an actual subject line I recently received:

“How Saint John Health Translated Outpatient Data Into Ambulatory Growth Opportunities”

At least that was the full subject line. What I saw in my Outlook 2007 preview pane, looked like this:

Sorry but this means absolutely nothing to me…DELETE

BTW: When I saw this email on my PDA, it looked even worse: “How Saint John He”…DELETE. That’s because most PDAs only show about 15 characters in the subject line.

Let’s see if we can’t rewrite this so it:

(a) makes sense and
(b) makes me want to read the email

Step 1:
“What’s in it for me?” That’s what we’re looking for when we read subject lines. What is this email really trying to tell me?

As I read this subject line, “How Saint John Health Translated Outpatient Data Into Ambulatory Growth Opportunities”, to me, what’s really important is that there are “Growth Opportunities” – and yet it is the last 2 words of the subject line – doubtful it will ever be seen in the preview pane.

So let’s flip this around a bit: “Growth Opps: Successful Use of Patient Data by St. John’s Hospital”

Now, when I get this email in Outlook 2007, it looks like this:

Oh, now I get it…Growth Opps is something I am definitely interested in.

BTW: When I see this email in my PDA it now looks like this: “Growth Opps: Su… You see that the “What’s in it for me” part still shows up.

Since you really never know exactly how many words will show up in someone’s preview pane, it’s always best to put your “What’s in it for me” right up front – the very first words.

Step 2:
As a test, try deleting all but the first 15 characters and see if it still makes sense. If not, rewrite it until it does, because there is a pretty good chance it will be viewed on a mobile device.

Step 3:
Finally, Subject Lines are not only valuable real estate to test, they are also an easy thing to test. For more on testing Best Practices, click here.

Steve Kellogg
a Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
a Eloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting Your Email Through the Clutter

The Good News: Email Marketing continues to evolve and thrive

The Bad News: We’re all getting bombarded with emails

Imagine the number of emails that will flow once everyone is doing marketing automation. You think you get tons of email now? Just wait! The messages will be more relevant, but the volume will go even higher.

So how do we get our emails through the landslide of clutter that bombards us every day? By understanding the litmus test your customers use to evaluate the worthiness of each email they get.

The 3-Second Relevance Test:

Here is the 3-second thought process most of us use to evaluate any email:

Step 1: Who is it from? If I don’t recognize the person or company - DELETE

Step 2: Is the Subject Line Relevant? If it doesn’t pertain to me - DELETE

Step 3: Review the Call to Action – “What’s in it for me?” Is it easy to take that action?” If not - DELETE

Step 4: Is it Urgent? If yes, then take action (assuming all other above criteria are met). If it is not urgent, keep the email (but then forget about it).

Isn’t this the process you use to evaluate the emails you get?

So what are the takeaways from this?

If you want to make sure your email gets through the clutter, just make sure that you fully address each of the steps above. Use it as a final checklist before you send any email.

aWill they recognize who it’s from?

aIs the Subject Line Relevant?

a Is the CTA (call to action) obvious and easy?

a Is it urgent?

If the answer is NO to any one of these, go back and do what it takes to make it a YES. If you do, you might find more of your customers saying YES to your emails.

Steve Kellogg
aDemand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
aEloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Helping Those with no Time to Surf

No matter whether your business is B2B or B2C, visitors to your website are almost always there for one reason – to find answers. If we could read their mind, they are probably saying something like this:

“I need help with [insert problem]. And while I literally have no free time to spend on your website, I still need to somehow determine whether your company has content I’m actually interested in."

Given this mindset, some of your website visitors might appreciate it if you could send them the relevant content they are actually looking for, saving them the time to look for it themselves. In fact some visitors might gladly give you their email address in exchange for this service.

Customer-Controlled Content to the Rescue

Imagine you are quickly scanning a webpage. The content is relevant to you, but you don’t have time to fully explore it. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little box in the upper corner of the page that said:

This little tiny form serves 2 purposes:
  1. It generates a new lead (with an email address) in exchange for providing a service (saving the visitor time by pushing relevant content to them)
  2. It provides valuable segmentation so you can continue to send relevant content to this person.

Yes, I know you have a Contact Us form, but:

  • Visitors have to find it
  • Visitors have to fill out more than one field typically
  • Usually visitors don’t get to pick what content they want to receive

Besides, this doesn’t replace your Contact Us form, it is just a convenient adjunct.

Little Tiny Form Do’s and Don’ts

Do make it obvious. Adding a tiny text link at the bottom of the page will get you zero submissions. Make it obvious, bold and inviting – usually the upper left or right corner is best.

Do add it to product or service-specific pages. If product X actually covers multiple pages, add it to each of those pages. A submission to any of these pages, means your visitor is interested in Product X.

Don’t add it to pages that you don’t have additional content to send them. If someone submits this, they will expect to receive something. It doesn’t mean you need to send them something new every day. See my blog post on communication frequency Best Practices.

Don’t expect a huge response. But try modifying the placement, size or discontinuity of this tiny little form if your submissions are weak. You might be surprised to be getting more submissions from these little forms than from your regular Contact Us page.

Also, just adding the opportunity to sign up for something on a given page won’t work unless you provide a clear benefit in doing so. In this case, offering to save the visitor time, do less work and only get the exact content they are interested in seems like a fair exchange for providing their email address.

You've probably spent hours and hours developing and updating your website. Here is a fanatastic (and free) way of generating new, segmented leads.

Steve Kellogg
aDemand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
aEloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Endless Lead Loop

Dear Sales Department,
What happened to all the leads we sent you?
Sincerely yours,
Marketing Department

Dear Marketing,
We closed all we could.
Dear Sales,
What happened to the rest?
Dear Marketing,
The rest weren’t ready to buy. That’s why we need more leads.

Does this sound familiar? Welcome to the Endless Lead Loop.

Guess what? According to Sirius Decisions, 80% of the leads that sales disqualifies end up buying anyway – often from someone else. If you’re not actively nurturing these ‘rejected’ leads you should be.

But who owns this nurturing process? Sales or marketing?

If salespeople have too many leads:
Marketing should own the nurturing process.

If salespeople have too few leads:
Sales should follow up but marketing should still own the nurturing process.

Marketing should utilize marketing automation tools to build relationships with “Not Ready to Buy” leads, nurturing them until they are “Sales Ready”, at which point they are handed off to sales.

This leverages the high efficiency – low cost benefits of marketing automation, keeping the high cost – low efficiency folks (sales) focused on “Ready to Buy” leads.

So in the future when sales asks for more leads, rather than creating brand new expensive lead gen campaigns, you can simply point them to the existing "Ready to Buy" leads you’ve been nurturing all this time.

Steve Kellogg
aDemand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
aEloqua Certified Marketing Best Practices Consultant

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