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Email marketing for acquisition is whole different ball game

Constructive criticism is all fine when it’s fair, but page 40 of May’s B2B Marketing magazine featured an inaccurate critique of an email campaign we did for our client Makeitcheaper. It came in for some undeservedly harsh treatment because it was judged against false criteria. What the comments highlight is some understandable confusion between best practices for using email marketing for retention and email marketing for acquisition. Proven email tactics for building on an existing client relationship are altogether different to those employed in trying to pull prospects in from the cold.

Reading Denise Cox's comments about "…third party mailings using one-off volume sends…. rather than building on an existing relationship…" I can only assume she has evaluated the email in the context of a customer retention campaign.  Similarly, references made to the subject line, design and multiple clicks seem to point to this misconception.  Here is why our ‘acquisition’ campaign worked and my response to her critique:

1. Infogroup UK is uniquely both an ESP and a data provider.  Whilst we own the majority of our data, we do take some feeds from third party sources (all of which are compliant) and therefore we take on full responsibility for the management of these additional sources.

2. As open rates are mainly dependent on the ‘from’ name and the subject line, we feel the use of the company name (as opposed to ours) and the subject line worked extremely well to increase open rates.  Including the name of the data source in the ‘from’ field on an acquisition piece is potentially distracting from the message, and this is something we would normally recommend to be put into the footer of an email. 

3. In response to comments on the subject line, the metrics for the campaign were positive with the majority of the email campaigns having an open rate of over 10 per cent. On one blast the unique open was as high as 59.16 per cent. The subject line was an area that we ran several pilot tests on in order to identify the most compelling subject line that generated the highest response.

4. With regards to layout, it is agreed that there could have been more references to MIC in the body of the text. However, the recipient should have instantly recognised the ‘from’ name. The email in the article itself is not the email that was deployed.  It has been taken apart and reconstructed to look longer, with the images skewed and placed in alternative positions to make the creative look poor and unstructured.  If the email is to be criticised it should be criticised fairly.  In relation to the images being blocked by some email platforms – we thoroughly test all ESPs and browsers to ensure the visual image is deliverable.
5. On previous campaigns we’ve found that multiple links within the body of an email work well to develop a call to action for recipients without images turned on. Similar to the critique’s mention of the company name being primarily mentioned in images, we could not design an email with just image based call to actions. Interestingly our visual click through report showed recipients of the email clicked every link available, especially those which were in the body of the text.

In short, we scrutinise each individual campaign extremely carefully and painstakingly make any changes necessary to make sure the spam score is as low as possible.