subject lines

Can you send a daily email to a business-to-business email list? How often can I email my B2B list? Check out these 4 lessons learned.

One of my favorite conversion strategies is the second chance. The second chance only comes when I have a way to continue the conversation; to get someone to come back again and let me make my case again.

There is no better second chance channel than email.

When entrusted with an email address, and permission to continue the conversation, I have one, two, three or more chances to persuade a prospect to reconsider.

In a business-to-business situation — the considered purchase — in which a decision will be made over a period of weeks or months, email is a true friend. And if it is executed with respect, it is a friend to those struggling with a purchase decision.

The question is, how many second chances am I going to take?

Five Emails an Hour

I tell companies that they can send email as often as their content allows them.

I once got five emails from American Airlines within the space of an hour. Did I unsubscribe? Did I feel spammed? The emails were telling me the status of a flight I was booked on as its departure time and gate changed. The emails were completely relevant to my situation, and were welcome.

If we were to stand by our statement that businesses can send as often as their emails’ relevance allows, we need to understand the dynamics of a high-frequency email campaign.

How Often Can I Email my B2B List: An Email a Day Experiment

The goal of this experiment was to examine the following hypotheses:

  1. Sending email would outperform social media marketing.
  2. Sending frequent email would significantly increase my conversion rate.
  3. Sending frequently would cause an unacceptable number of my subscribers to unsubscribe.
  4. Sending frequent email would reduce my ability to deliver email due to spam reports.

a. The List

We chose a selection of 2000 names from my house list. This list consists of contacts made through personal interactions, meetings and consultations. It is primarily a business-to-business email list.

I would call the list a “semi-warm” list having received email from me only quarterly. This list had received emails on January 11 and April 30. The experiment began September 7.

Your list could easily be generated from social media traffic or search engine traffic.

b. The Content

Because of the frequent nature of these emails, it was important that they provide some value and be entertaining. This proved to be a significant challenge.

Each email followed the following formula:

  • A non-promotional subject line
  • Relevant copy
  • Link to relevant content online or registration for a live event
  • Offers varied, including an invitation to subscribe to my mailing list, registration for a live workshop and an invitation to a Webinar on writing for landing pages.

Subject lines included “Are you the victim of the Email Invisibility Ray?,” “Social Media: Marketing from my La-Z-Boy,” and “Why eight-year-olds beat me at Chess.”

3. The Frequency

Emails were sent daily, Tuesday through Friday for two consecutive weeks. Eight emails we sent in all.

High Frequency Email Campaign Test Results

1. Email Performance vs. Social Media

We’ve had relatively good luck using social media to drive traffic to my site. However, in Figure 1, you can see that the email resulted in significant increases in traffic, even outperforming our summer social media experiment.

How often can i email B2B list? Traffic sources overview: email effect on site traffic.

Figure 1 • Traffic sources overview: email effect on site traffic.

Hypothesis: “Sending email would outperform social media marketing.” True

One interesting note is the rise in search engine traffic at the time of the email. This underscores that click-through rate is only a partial measurement of email effectiveness.

2. Increased Conversion Rate

It is probably not surprising that sending email to a targeted list is going to result in more conversions. However, keep in mind that my social media networks are also quite well-targeted.

As expected, both conversions and conversion rates for new subscribers increased. We can also attribute thirteen (13) workshop registrations to this email series, generating almost $1300 in sales.

Just looking at new email subscribers, the conversion rate for our social media experiment were 2.5%. For the period of this email, conversion rates were 7.6%.

Email frequency's effect on conversion rate.

Figure 2 • Emails’ Effect on Conversion Rate.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequent email would significantly increase my conversion rate.” True

3. Opt-out Rates

This was the metric I was most interested in examining. How would unsubscribe rates change over the course of the experiment?

Email frequency effect on deliverability. Open rate, Click-through rate and Bounce Rate for each drop.

Figure 3 • Open rate, Click-through rate and Bounce Rate for each drop.

I consider an unsubscribe rate of 1% or less acceptable and expected in any email that asks the reader to take action. So, I got pretty nervous as unsubscribe rates rose to 3.2%, and stayed well above 1%. Over the course of the experiment, 15% of the list unsubscribed.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. We lost 15% of our prospects.
  2. We identified the 85% of list members that are interested and qualified.

If my goal with this list was primarily to sell, I would consider the 15% loss to be acceptable and even desirable. This is called Shaping your list.

However, my goal is to evangelize conversion and to educate, so the opt-outs represents a pretty significant loss of reach.

From a brand perspective, there were very few negative comments, and many positive ones.

Given the opt-out rates, would I do this again. The answer is a resounding yes.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequently would cause an unacceptable number of my subscribers to unsubscribe.” False

4. The Effect on Deliverability

The other negative effect that frequent emails can have is an increase in spam reports.

For most service providers, deliverability is the inverse of the bounce rate. If my emails are reported as spam, we would see an increase in bounces. Intuitively, when shaping a list, you expect bounce rates to drop quickly as bouncing addresses are removed from the list.

For our experiment, the bounce rate began at 2.5% but quickly dropped, leveling at an imperceptible 0.06%.

One reader was kind enough to let me know that they had “spammed” my email. I used the site to see if my domain had been placed on any black lists. However, it would be our Email Service Provider (ESP) that took the hit if spam was reported. This is one big value of an ESP. They keep themselves – and you – off of black lists.

How often can i email B2B list? Effect on opt-out rates. Unsubscribe Rates for the Email Series.

Figure 4 • Unsubscribe Rates for the Email Series.

Another measure of reader interest is open rates.

Email service providers count the number of times a special image is downloaded to establish open rates. Since many people have images turned off in their email client, the open rate is not an accurate measure of actual opens.

However, I would interpret a steady drop in open rates as a sign that the list is becoming fatigued with my communications. Open rate can also be a good indicator of the quality of your subject line.

Open rates were relatively flat, dropping on Fridays.

Overall, I believe that few of my readers reported these emails as spam.

I attribute this positive outcome to the non-promotional nature of the copy, even though the emails were clearly promoting our email list, workshop and webinar.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequent email would reduce my ability to deliver email due to spam reports.” False

How Often Can I Email my B2B List Conclusions

With some simple analytics in place, we can pretty easily establish the ideal frequency of our email campaigns. Based on these results, we should be sending email more frequently. You will probably come to the same result. However, we tested a certain kind of email with this experiment; an email that is informational and entertaining as well as promotional. This style of email requires a bit more work and creativity on our part.

The payoff is quite clear.

Email is a more effective channel in a B2B sale than is social media. It is also a great way to get more out of your search engine and advertising traffic. When you get an email address, you get a second chance at the sale. And a third, fourth and fifth chance.

For the complete content of the emails sent during this experiment, and the results of some split tests conducted, visit.

During the holiday shopping season, everyone seems to turn into Santa Claus. An infographic from Slant states that “nearly 2/3 of the top 1,000 e-retailers offered discounts” last year.
Frankly, I’m more than a little surprised that it was only two thirds. Offering discounts during the holidays kind of seems like a given. Everyone does it from the largest brick-and-mortar chains to the smallest Etsy shop. These sales are so pervasive that I imagine there’s a good deal of social pressure to give deep discounts, and as a consumer, I’d probably be a little curious about why a business isn’t taking that route.
How did the discounting trend get started in the first place?

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a very real phenomenon.

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a very real phenomenon.

The fear of missing out is an emotional trigger that undeniably leads to people clicking the purchase button in higher numbers. And when I think about companies moving away from discounts, I’m reminded of the epic fail that was JC Penney’s rebranding and decision to stop using coupons in favor of lowering prices across the board. When the coupons went away, so did millions of dollars.
But what if discount culture isn’t helping you reap the benefits you think it is? Slant’s infographic makes the case that maybe you should reconsider discounts. If the thought of losing out on the upcoming money-spending frenzy that is the holiday shopping season is frightening, this infographic isn’t just dropping bad news on you and fleeing the scene. It also gives actionable solutions that are proven to drive sales.

Why Discounting Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Ultimately, the benefits of discounting are short-sighted. (And there was quite a bit more going on with JC Penney than getting rid of coupons. This is a prime example of a blunder that could have been avoided with split-testing.)

The short-term benefits of discounting aren't even all that convincing.

The short-term benefits of discounting aren’t even all that beneficial.

Cornflakes experienced a 500% increase in sales! That’s insane! I can clearly picture that email subject line turning up in the inboxes of the whole Cornflakes marketing crew. Too bad there’s a “but” in that sentence.
Groupon ran into this problem. Consumers love it, but it can be bad for businesses. One massage therapist complained that “everyone who came in for his promotion got a massage and then walked out. Most of them didn’t spend anything beyond getting the freebie. He lost money on the promotion itself and there was no way to recoup that loss.” That article about Groupon has both pros and cons, but the cons are big.
Discounts can hurt not only your business, but your brand. Slant’s infographic states that “81% of hoteliers [are] discounting more now than they were five years ago, with 75% saying this has done damage to their brand.” That’s an awfully big sacrifice for a boost in sales that isn’t even sustainable for more than a day.
All these sales mean you must be offing crappy merchandise.

All these sales mean you must be offing crappy merchandise.

The lower prices give your best item the intrinsic value of an outlet mall. To me, that means it’s kind of what I’m looking for, but I anticipate the Banana Republic outlet mall sweater I just bought is going to unravel much sooner than if had I bought it at a retail Banana Republic.

Is Discounting Just Treating the Symptoms?

Why are you offering discounts in the first place? To boost sales.
Which means people aren’t buying.
You may believe that you can’t keep up with competitors because they’re offering discounts. Are you certain that they would buy if your competitors didn’t discount? If so, then you are essentially resorting to bribery.
What are the reasons shoppers don’t buy from you?
Only 2 percent of online shoppers convert on their first visit to an online store.
If only 2% of shoppers are converting right away, you either need to figure out how to boost impulse buying without a sale or put in more effort to get customers to return.
Free shipping is an example of an impulse booster. If the power of free shipping hasn’t been drilled into you enough, consider this.

People are four to five times more likely to buy the first bag.

People are four to five times more likely to buy the first bag.

Are you getting that these are the same exact bag? And you’d be paying the exact same price? Understand what you’re losing when you don’t offer free shipping: 61% of shoppers would abandon what’s in their cart if free shipping isn’t an option.
Equally important as free shipping, 61% of shoppers read reviews of products. Consumer reviews are even more important than the product descriptions.
61 percent of customers read reviews before purchashing

Are Loyalty Programs the Anti-Coupon?

One of the alternatives to discounting from the infographic is the use of loyalty programs. If discounts and coupons hold appeal for you, and you think they’d work well with your clientele, loyalty programs might be a worthwhile option.

Loyalty programs may hold the appeal you're looking for

Loyalty programs may hold the appeal you’re looking for.

One of our Conversion Scientists is extremely loyal to Southwest Airlines and has gone to great lengths – like booking extra, random flights – to secure a companion. Another one favors the loyalty program at a bicycle shop that gave a steep discount on his new bike.
I personally drive several miles out of my way to a local local grocery store because I get 10% off my purchase every quarter and a few bucks back at the end of every fiscal year. The entire film Up in the Air places an airline loyalty program at the center of the story.
You may be occasionally offering a discount or a coupon to your loyalty program customers, but this person demonstrated that they are unlikely to take the discount and walk away. There’s a level of commitment here that you aren’t going to find with a door buster sale. People don’t commit to brands that they perceive to be low-quality.
Check out the entire infographic for even more conversion boosting tips that will help stop the reliance on discounting.
How to drive e-commerce sales without discounting infographic
Thanks to Slant for sharing.

How does one build traffic to a blog? That’s easy. One writes. One posts. One shares.
Unfortunately, not all posts are created equal. Not all topics interest the same number of readers. And not all keyword phrases get the attention of the great granter of traffic, Google.
Having blogged since 2005 on marketing topics, from email to conversion optimization. Every post has it’s own signature when I look at it in Google Analytics. There are Eagles, Icebergs, Burps and more.
I thought I would share them with you.

How We Look at Traffic

Our subscriber list gets an email each week of with new posts. We publish new posts three times per week. We put new posts on LinkedIn and Facebook, and will generally share with on Twitter multiple times over the course of a week or two. Our most active posts will get reposted on LinkedIn.
We count on this initial outreach to drive relevant backlinks for search engine optimization. I use Referral Traffic as a proxy for backlinks. While backlinks aren’t about generating referral traffic, there is a correlation between the amount referral traffic and the number of backlinks a post has.
So, when evaluating the performance of our blog posts, I’m examining:

  1. Email traffic
  2. Social traffic
  3. Referral traffic (for backlinks)
  4. Organic traffic

With these segments, I look at the Google Analytics Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report for individual posts that rank high in traffic generated, and go back more than a year.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

Separating Social Referrals from Referral Traffic in Google Analytics

First of all, Google Analytics seems to include social referrals in it’s “Referral Traffic” filter. I want to look at social separately, so I created a filter based on the social networks that send traffic to us.

The difference between Referral and non-social Referral Traffic-Graph-Arrows

This article shows that Google’s “Referral Traffic” advanced segment includes social referrals.

The Kinds of Posts You Find in Analytics

Every post is unique. Each has its own signature in analytics. However, there are some common themes I’ve seen in the data and I’m going to share them with you here.

The Burp

The Burp is a post that gets all of it’s juice from email and social media. There is a spike of activity followed by near “silence,” if you can say visits make a sound.
These are topics that may have been interesting to people when shoved into their inbox or social media timeline, but didn’t grab the attention of the search engines.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.

Burps can be blamed on poor search optimization, poor choice of keywords or just boring content. The post shown above had a nice email spike and got some referral traffic. But the referrals didn’t seed organic visitors like some. See below.

The Burp and Fizz

A variation of the Burp is the “Burp and Fizz.” This traffic pattern burps when email and social sharing are being done. Then it sizzles with search traffic – just a little – over time.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.

Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.

Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.

These may be long-tail topics, or the small amount of search traffic may be driven by less-relevant backlinks.

The Iceberg

Like its frozen namesake, the iceberg is massive and floats through your analytics, slowly melting over time. In our case, the iceberg has been one our most visited post since it was published in March of 2011. It has generated a large volume of search traffic, decreasing slowly.
Icebergs can be misleading. In our case, email is not how potential prospects find us, so traffic to this post is largely poor quality from a lead generation standpoint. As more visitors come to this post, our conversion rates drop.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.

We can see the influence of key backlinks here in driving search relevance. A new resurgence in traffic came after a swelling of referral traffic. A little investigation showed that the post was featured in January of 2014 on the Crazy Egg Blog.

Beach Ball at a Concert

Sometimes a post just won’t fly without frequent support. Here’s a topic – Generating Mobile Phone Calls from the Web – that looked like it was going to iceberg on us (see below). However, every couple of months we did a presentation on the topic of mobile and generating phone calls from the web.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.

Each presentation included being mentioned in blog posts and online show marketing. So, we got new life from each, like popping a beach ball back into the air at a concert.

The Celebrity Curve

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.

I did one of my live Instagraph while Rand Fishkin was presenting at Business of Software 2014. Rand is well known in our industry as the founder of MOZ and it’s various products.
Our email list gravitated to his name, which you can see in the orange line below. His our social channels responded with less enthusiasm. However, we were on the search engines’ radars for his name, at least until his next thing became more relevant.
Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.

Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.

Celebrity is a fickle master, even when creating content.

The Eagle

These are the posts you write for. You seed them with some email and social media attention, and then they spread their wings, riding the winds of the search engines. [pullquote]The Eagles are the posts that your blog is built on.[/pullquote]

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.

Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.

Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.

It’s hard to tell what causes Eagles to soar. Some enjoy early social traffic. Others get early referral traffic. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to jump starting an Eagle post. However, most of our Eagle posts are not on conversion-related keywords, but focus on Adwords, Facebook, Live Chat, and Exit-intent Popovers to name a few.

The Blue Bird

It’s unclear how a blue bird post gets started. There’s little support in the way of email, social or backlinks. Yet, it nonetheless finds an updraft and takes flight.

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.

A blue bird is just a gift of the search engines.

Dodo Bird

This form of post takes a while to get off the ground, but soon evolves into a workhorse.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.

For some reason this post didn’t take off for months, and it’s unclear what got it going some seven months after it was published. Who are we to argue. This looked like a classic Burp Fizz post for most if that time.

Identifying Blog Posts that Drive Organic Traffic

The signatures you use to grade your blog posts may vary from ours, though this approach has proven to be very effective for the business.
You need to take a long-term approach to content. It’s never obvious when a Burp Fizz is going to turn into a Dodo Bird.
When you understand what makes Eagles, Blue Birds and even Dodos soar; when you understand the impact of icebergs on your reports; when you can see the impact of celebrities on your traffic, then you can select the right mix of content to grow your site.

Welcome email tests that will help begin the onboarding process that turns tryers into buyers and buyers into long-term subscribers.

Email is still the most effective strategy for onboarding visitors. By “onboarding” we mean:

  • Getting tryers to use the product so they can become buyers
  • Getting buyers to use the product so they become long-term subscribers
  • Getting repeat buyers to share their appreciation of the product

Yes, email is important to your business. It can’t be done through Facebook or Twitter. It can’t be done through SMS. Maybe it can be done through direct mail. Maybe.

The first step in these processes is the ubiquitous Welcome Email. It gives customers a first impression of your business. Guides them through your product. And demonstrates the value that you can bring them. It’s what takes them from trial to paying user to a repeat user to a evangelist.

In fact marketers who utilize welcome emails find that they have a substantial effect on their conversions with some even experiencing up to a 50% conversion rate when implementing them into their onboarding marketing strategy. Impressive, huh?

Welcome emails aren’t as straightforward as you would think, however. They need to be tested. From timing to subject line, rigorously A/B testing the different aspects of your emails is a sure fire way to build the most effectual onboarding strategy for your business.

Today, we are going to focus on one aspect of welcome email A/B testing – Content.

Content is what entices your user to click-through and act. You need to get it right.

Welcome Email Tests to Engage Customers

Here are five A/B tests you should be doing on your content to optimize your onboarding emails and get users converting from trial to lifetime customers.

1. Test Simple vs. Hyper-Stylized Design

Let’s begin with design.

No matter how well-written your emails are, if it the look isn’t right the effectiveness will be hampered. Emails can be as simple or flamboyant as you wish. Generally they are divided into three types:

  1. The first type is E-zine style. It’s flashy, hyper-stylized with images and bold font taking centre stage.
  2. Next is SaaS style. It’s cleaner and simpler yet still professional.
  3. And finally Personal. This has no branding, no design. Just a straightforward email.

It’s up to you to test what works best for your business.

welcome email tests - stylized versus simple email design

Will your visitors prefer a stylized email or a simple “personal” email?

An interesting design case study comes from SitePoint, a specialist in content for web developers. After sending out over 40 newsletters, their campaign started to look a little lackluster.

Their initial emails were uncluttered and pared back in design. And they wanted to continue with this look but update it and get more clicks.

So they ran an A/B test.

The first thing they tested was the template, and the results were positive with an initial 16% rise in click through rates.

Next they tested images – should they include them or keep it plain text? SitePoint already had a hunch that their customers didn’t care for them and wanted a text only email.  This assumption proved to be inconclusive as the results were 118 vs. 114 clicks in favor of no images.

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn't prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn’t prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.

These welcome email tests were just the first round of experimenting for SitePoint. They went back to the drawing board and tested everything again. They experimented with images and templates until they found what worked best.

The winning email template after ab testing of welcome emails. Simple, but a little design can go a long way.

The winning email was simple, but a little design can go a long way.

The winning email retained the simple look of their original email. It was just updated, more attractive to readers and most importantly, increased their click-through rate.

Contrasted to this is Wishpond. After extensive testing of their own emails, they discovered images were just what their audience wanted. Using images produced a 60% higher click-through rate versus just using text alone.

These two contrasting examples are just to illustrate the fact that there is no single best design for all businesses.

There is no one template fits all.

You need to test to discover what your customers like and what drives results.

2. Test A Single Call to Action

When you send out your welcome emails we are betting you have one goal in mind – getting customers to use your product.

All too often we see businesses sending emails with multiple links and requesting customers do numerous actions. It’s confusing and will distract your user from your goal.

So here’s a challenge – try restricting your welcome emails to have only one call-to-action,

That’s exactly what Optimizely did.

In 2014 they began rigorously testing all aspects of their emails. One of the tests had a goal of increasing click-throughs on the call to action.

To do this they sent out two emails. The first having only one CTA, while the second had multiple.

Welcome email: test a single call to action. Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

There was one clear winner. The email with only one CTA produced substantially more click-throughs with a 13.3% increase.

Narrowing down your email to one call to action can be a tough task. You have a limited amount of onboarding emails to send. Yet you have so much to say.

Try removing any unnecessary call to actions you have in your emails and just focus on what you believe is most important.

Ask yourself what is the most important thing you want your customer to do after receiving this email and make this your call to action.

Then test.

3. Test Urgency Inducing Copy

When sending welcome emails to onboard your users there are some tactics you can use to convert those trial users into paying customers.

One method is urgency. Using a sense of immediacy in your email to get your customer to act now.

MarketingExperiments tested the effects of urgency in their email campaigns.

They planned a Web Clinic Invite and sent out two emails. One was just the simple invite. The other however, had three extra urgency inducing words – Limit 1000 Attendees.

Five welcome email tests to turn tryers into buyers - test urgency inducing copy.

Urgency may induce more of your email recipients to act.

The email containing the urgency had a 15.4% increase in click-throughs. Pretty impressive figures considering the only difference was 3 words!

When sending welcome emails, urgency can be incredibly valuable.

Here is another example of urgency from Sprout Social.

To get trials to convert to paying customers they use copy to imply urgency and encourage users to act now.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

They use phrases such as “Only 2 days left” and “Time Flies – your trial period is over in just 2 days”. It shouts “act now or you’ll miss out!”

It’s a clever way to optimize your emails and get more customers converting.

4. Testing Email Length (How Long Should a Welcome Email Be?)

When a customer signs up you want to tell them everything about your business.

Explaining every feature and what you offer in a long winded email is going to show them the value of your business, right? Well probably not.

Conversely, saying too little can be problematic also. Customers might feel under informed and might not act at all.

Research has shown that the average open time for an email is only 15-20 seconds.

With such a small window of time, you need to test how long your emails should be to have the maximum impact.

iMedia Connection decided to carry out tests, with two versions of an email promoting an upcoming conference.

One email was verbose, containing all of the information about the conference within it as well as links to the website.

The other was half the length, with only a short description and a link to a website containing the information.

Testing email length: A bigger open rate doesn't mean a higher click-through rate.

A bigger open rate doesn’t mean a higher click-through rate.

The shorter email proved to be more appealing. iMedia Connection reported that not only was the open rate on the shorter higher at 30% vs. 20% but the click-through rate was also higher at 11% vs. 5%.

Short, brief content was the winner here but that might not always be the case. Getting your emails length right must be tested.

Good ab testing will help you find the perfect balance between being informative while also being concise.

5. Welcome Email Tests: Test Personalization

Personalization is one of the most effective techniques to increase conversions from emails. Using a customer’s data to appeal to their interests has been proven to work time and time again. And it isn’t as complicated as you may think.

DoggyLoot, an online store experienced astonishing success when they began personalizing their email’s content.

They recognized that Rottweiler owners wouldn’t want the same emails as Chihuahua owners. So they began to segment in the simplest way possible.

They began collection “doggie data” by asking owners one simple question – is their dog small, medium or large?

Based on this data, they created three email segments based on dog size. Each segment received an email that had products that were suited to their dogs.

Welcome email tests: test personalization. DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

The results were impressive to say the least. The personalized emails that were targeted at large dog owners had a click through rate that was 410% higher than the average.

Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. Just find whatever works for your business.

Doggyloot just asked the right questions on signup, enabling them to segment their audience with relative ease.

Whether you just add a user’s name or build comprehensive buyer personas, testing personalization can be a real asset to your welcome emails.

5 Welcome Email Tests To Turn Tryers into Buyers: Summary

These 5 A/B tests and case studies are guidelines. Some may work for your business while others might make no impact at all.

It is important to focus on how customers are reacting to your email content. Measuring click-throughs and conversions is essential. See what makes statistical significance, gets users converting and becoming lifelong customers. For more advanced A/B tests read our Ebook “Welcome Your First Million Users: The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing Your Welcome Emails”.

It’s time to stop boring people with how good your open rates and click-through rates are. Tell them what each and every person on your list is worth in dollars by measuring Revenue per Recipient (RPR). When you track the results of your emails down to the dollar, you track your own value down to the dollar.
From Marketing Land: Marketing Power Processes: Tracking Email To The Dollars by Brian Massey

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Tweetables: Click to Tweet

Power Process: Ignore Email Open Rates & Click-Through Rates
Revenue-Per-Recipient (RPR) Ties Marketing to the Money
Like trees in the winter, it’s important to prune and shape your email list.
Most email clients now show the subject line and the beginning of an email in the inbox view.

INFOGRAPHIC Crafting the Subject Line that Gets Your Email Read – Litmus

Jan 28, 2013 03:37 pm


  • We’ve seen in email tests that subject lines can have implications far beyond the open rate. We’ve seen two identical emails with identical landing pages have the same open rates and the same click-through rates (CTR), but one generated more sales than the other.What’s the difference? The subject line.In short, subject lines are important.
    And they are difficult to write.
    This infographic does a great job of boiling things down to help remove the indecision when you are writing subject lines.

by: Brian Massey
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Build a Conversion Rate Heatmap by Hour & Day of Week in Google Docs

Jan 26, 2013 04:02 pm


  • When we dig into a site’s analytics, we try a number of different approaches to the data. Sometimes interesting things pop out, and sometimes the data looks “as expected.”This is an analysis we are going to start adding to our analysis: Heatmap of Conversions by Hour of Day. We will modify it for our ecommerce clients (as we track Revenue per Visit, or RPV).You might try this and see if there is an interesting pattern in your data.

by: Brian Massey

It’s Not My Job: Why Marketing is Broken

Jan 26, 2013 09:58 am


  • @TheGrok (Bryan Eisenberg) is one of the founders of the performance marketing movement — we’ve called it conversion marketing. He has the cred to ask the hard questions. In this very impactful article, he asks “Really, is this so hard to do?” of the email marketers whom he sees as “broken.”These examples should leave you with a feeling of, “Oh yes. I get it now.”That can be a very valuable feeling.

by: Brian Massey
read more



After nine months of writing, fifteen chapters complete and dozens of columns supporting the effort, you’d think that the easiest thing to do would be to pick a name for my conversion marketing book.
As it turns out, this is difficult.
So why read a post about selecting a book title? Because, it’s all about conversion – not just the book, but the title is about converting book prospects into book readers.
The title of your book is key to maximizing conversions. It is like the subject line of your email, like the headline of your landing page, and like the value proposition of your home page. Get these wrong and your conversion rates will plummet. However the book title can’t be changed. Once chosen you are stuck with it until you write another.
It’s expensive to test titles, and this makes a Conversion Scientist very nervous.
I’ve considered a number of approaches. These approaches will also inform your online marketing.

Leverage something familiar

My first thought was to leverage something familiar, something that is already popular. This spawned several mockups including The Bourne Conversion, Eat, Pray, Convert, How to Win Friends and Convert People, and Conversions with God.
Unfortunately, copyright issues will prevent me from using any of these.

Ask your SEO person

The next thing I had to consider was how people might find the book on search engines. Phrases like “online sales conversion,” “analytics,” “conversion rates,” and “social media” are some of the most commonly searched phrases in the conversion marketing space. With this focus in mind, several titles were considered:
Online Sales Conversion: The Science of B2B, B2C, Online Services and Social Media Websites
The Well Managed Web Site: Conversion Strategy and Analytics in Simple Terms
Managing Websites to High Conversion Rates
Online Conversion Strategy
In my opinion, words like “conversion” and “analytics” are too clinical. Furthermore, these conversion terms don’t really get that much search traffic, so this strategy became less important to me.

Leverage your existing brand

I’ve been marketing Conversion Sciences and The Conversion Scientist pretty consistently for six years now through writing, speaking and training. The business is familiar to many online marketers and business owners, the two primary targets for my tome.
Playing on the science angle associated with the brand yielded several interesting titles, including the original working title, Get a Reaction.
Marketing + Science = Customers: Online Conversion Strategies to Transform Prospects into Buyers
Conversion Science: The Proven Formulas for Transforming Online Prospects into Customers
The Science of Reaction: Proven Conversion Formulas of Internet Based Companies

Own a word

I’ve always like one-word book titles that are provocative, like Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and “Outliers.” I thought “REACTION” might be the word that sticks with people in my space.
REACTION: Getting visitors to take action on your website
Get a REACTION: Proven Strategies of the Conversion Scientist
The Science of REACTIONS: Websites that Convert Visitors to Leads and Sales
My feeling is that you have to have a large marketing budget to get a word to stick in the minds of potential readers. I didn’t get a multi-million dollar advance, unfortunately.

Surprise them

Seth Godin is great at naming books with unexpected titles, such as Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars and Meatball Sundae. I thought the unexpected or absurd might work for my book as well.
It’s Raining Soup. Get a Bowl. How to turn Internet traffic into a delicious business.
Glad I Stopped By: Websites We Love to Do Business With
They Did What?! Unexpected Strategies of The Conversion Scientist
Marketing Backwards: Unexpected Strategies of The Conversion Scientist
The Website Genome Project: Proven Research of The Conversion Scientist
The truth is, I’m not Seth Godin. Darn it.

State your topic plainly

We often get too clever for our own good when we’re writing headlines, subject lines, and book titles. It’s a business book, after all.
Managing Your Website: Conversion Strategy and Analytics for the Managers and Business Owners
Online Conversion Strategies for Websites that Dominate Their Marketplace
The problem with these is that the reader is more likely to fall asleep before finishing the title.

Ask your personas

If you follow The Conversion Scientist, you know that I believe creating visitor personas is the best way to get high conversion rates on your website. The same applies to books, and I have developed several personas for this book.
With this guidance, I was able to choose a book title that combines the right ingredients… I hope. Here’s what I know about my personas.
Most of my personas have heard of The Conversion Scientist through my columns, blog posts and speaking. This tells me to leverage the familiar science angle.
One persona studies marketing, and they are reluctant to read a book that will give them same advice they’ve already heard. Therefore, the title should indicate that it is presenting a fresh way to look at online marketing. Use terms like “unexpected” or surprise titles like “marketing backwards.”
Finally, all of my personas are human, which means they respond to things like metaphors, rhyming and alliteration (the repeated use of a sound in a sentence or phrase). This tells me I should use these tools.
After reviewing these persona requirements, we settled on the following title:
The Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Formulas of The Conversion Scientist™
The alliteration and rhyming nature of the main title will help people remember the name. It has the important search terms “conversion,” and “customer” in it. The terms “equation” and “formulas” evoke the science theme of my brand.
Finally, the strategies are “unexpected,” and indeed the book contains advice contrary to what you have been told. This was a tough decision for me. One of our personas is trying to solve a specific marketing problem. Calling my recommendations “unexpected” may not appeal to her. She will want to know about “proven” strategies, and I did consider the subtitle “Proven Strategies of The Conversion Scientist.” Yet, I knew she would find value in being “cutting edge,” and “unexpected strategies” should appeal to her.
Did we pick the right title? Which would you prefer to read? Let us know in the comments.

You won’t be converting much of anything if you start with the wrong kind of website. Find out which of five conversion signatures your website should be following with a free video that introduces some key concepts from The Customer Creation Equation.

As you might expect, I work with a number of eCommerce sites. Companies that sell things online is a faaaaaast moving target, so I’m glad to have folks like Willo O’Brien to keep me up to date on best practices.

Warning: You’re being left behind by some very innovative companies.

Which companies? Check out my notes form her SXSW presentation Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Online.

Click to Enlarge

INFOGRAPH-Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Online

INFOGRAPH-Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Online

Also from SXSW: 63 Great Subject Lines from the SXSW Catalog

Get more sales from the traffic you’re getting today. Sign up for a free consultation with The Conversion Scientist.


Increase your email open rates. Get inspired by these 165 great email subject lines from the SXSW catalog.

The amazing SXSW conference has kicked into full swing here in Austin. I haven’t been to a single session yet, and I’ve already learned something of great value I can share with you.

It came in the SXSW session catalog.

The session selection process is very competitive. Every summer, SXSW puts out a call for session and panel ideas. People vote on their sessions and then the crew at SXSW passes final judgment.

If your session gets accepted you will find yourself competing for attendees with some of the most interesting, influential and innovative professionals. Your session title has to really grab attention in a sea of hundreds of choices.

It’s kind of like the competition for your inbox. All of this competition has created perhaps the most creatively named agenda in conferencedome. The SXSW conference has always been known for the quirky session titles it inspires. The competition for panel slots is intense, with 2500 ideas were submitted in 2011 and 3,000 panel submissions presented for 2012 alone. Part of the selection process involves voting by the public. So, an effective title gets attention when garnering votes for a panel.

We have the same problem with email.

We need attention grabbing email subject lines that pull inbox scanners from their numbed slumber in which most emails are unceremoniously deleted. If our email is to be read, our subject lines must save our recipients from mindless autonomy.

Your email campaign would enjoy significantly greater open rates if you used SXSW email subject lines. No one’s going to click through from your email if they don’t open it and read it.

165 best email subject lines from the SXSW catalog. Check them out!

165 best email subject lines from the SXSW catalog.

Email Subject Lines Must Wake Up the Mind at Any Cost

To use these techniques, you must believe that you can use almost any premise in your subject line to engage the reader and entice them to click.

To prove this point, I am going to take the most abstract title from the following list, use it as a subject line, and create an email that will get readers to click through to my site.

First, the list. Yes, these are actual SXSWinteractive session titles. I’ve grouped them by the strategies the presenters used in naming their sessions, strategies that you can incorporate into your email subject lines.

Best Email Subject Lines on Sex and Relationships

Even the “oldest profession in the world” required some persuasive messaging. Your reader may see sex as the most base or most exalted activity humans can engage in. This is the risk and the reward for bawdy banter in your email subject lines.

  • Brands That Believe in Sex After Marriage
  • Sex, Lies and Cookies: Web Privacy EXPOSED!
  • Sex in the Digital Age
  • Big Brands and You: Make the Love Connection
  • Social Media Comes of Age Without the Help of Porn
  • Nudity and Online Journalism
  • Sex Nets: Pickup Artists vs. Feminists
  • Sex on the Web – The Sabotage of Relationships?
  • The Sexual Survival Guide for Geeks: Healthy sex and relationships
  • Sausagefest: Getting More Women into New Media & Tech
  • Fun with the Lights Off: Interactivity Without Graphics
  • How Social Media Fu@k’d Up My Marriage (Learn how not to have your relationship ruined by the online world)
  • Subtle Sexuality: Adds Spice to Shows

Things that Don’t Fit Together (non sequiturs)

Our brains are wired to discard the familiar faster than a bear can spell Constantinople. It is the unexpected that gets the attention of our conscious and prepares us for action. These titles demonstrate the use of twists to pull readers out of their inbox apathy.

  • Block Party Capitalism: Where Analog and Digital Intersect
  • What Comic Books Can Teach Mobile Application Designers
  • Your Mom Has an iPad: Designing for Boomers
  • Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better
  • Why New Authors Should Think Like Indie Bands
  • Why my phone should turn off the Stove – Mobile monitoring of energy consumption
  • Building Fences in the Sky: Geo-fencing Has Arrived
  • I’m so productive, I never get anything done
  • Your Computer is the Next Wonder Drug (Improving interactions with the medical community)
  • What Digital Tribes Can Learn from Native Americans
  • A Penny Press for the Digital Age
  • Philanthropy Is Not the Future of Journalism
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Gaming
  • Multiple Personalities–Not a Disorder but the Norm
  • Does Your Product Have a Plot?
  • Meat is Might: Epic Meal Time Rules the Web
  • Social + Location + Mobile = The Perfect Beer
  • When Goliath Tries to Steal Your Lunch Money
  • Can Growing a Mustache Change the World?
  • Bootcamp for a UX Team of None
  • Explorations in Corporate Zoology
  • How to Be Strategically Unlikeable Online
  • Sunspots: The Promise and Pitfalls of Gov 2.0
  • Dreams of Your Life: A Darkly Playful Experience
  • Help, My Avatar Is Sick
  • Being Considered Obsolete Is Awesome
  • The Science of Good Design: A Dangerous Idea
  • Why Karl Keeps His Shades On: Style & Social Media

Great Email Subject Lines out of Left Field

  • Help! A Giant Meteor is Headed Our Way! Cause Shift, Things that need to change
  • OMG – My Pancreas Just Texted

Metaphors and Similes

Similes are like can openers for the mind. Metaphors are the batteries in the flashlight of your email. The technical term for this style of messaging is “transubstantiation,” using the characteristics of one thing to add meaning to another in the eyes of the reader.

  • Rev Up Your Product Design, the “Concept Car” Way
  • Online Personality Disorder: Resumes & Profiles
  • Knitting a Long Tail in Niche Publishing
  • Snackable Content: Working in a Bite-Sized Future
  • Hunt or Be Hunted: Get the Design Job You Want
  • Keeping Kids off the Street: Wall St. vs. Startups
  • Death of Digital Downloads: MP3s the New 8-track?

Target an Audience with the Best Email Subject Lines

Right-handed marketers, take note! Targeting your audience can significantly increase the relevance to two groups of people: those to whom you are speaking, and those who feel left out by the fact that you aren’t speaking to them (you left-handers felt a twinge of anger at being left out, didn’t you?). This approach takes guts, as you are consciously ignoring part of your audience in the hope of truly engaging another.

  • Why Women Fail to Rule the Social Networks
  • Greek to Geek: Classical Rhetoric & the Modern Web
  • Blogging: Why So Many Women Are Doing It
  • Digital Divas: How Girls Rule the Digital Universe
  • Monetizing Mommy

Lists of Three

There is something memorable, readable, and easy-to-count about lists of three. This method is especially successful when the third item is overly specific or doesn’t fit. See “Things that Don’t Fit Together” above.

  • Drugs, Milk & Money: Social & Regulated Industries
  • Credits Coins Cash: Social Currency & Finance 2.0
  • Free Coffee, Bad Apples & the Future of Currency
  • Clouds Here, Clouds There, Clouds Everywhere

Pop Culture References Can Make Awesome Email Subject Lines

If you know your audience, you slip them some “Funky Cold Medina” in the form of a pop-culture reference. For your geeks, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” will do. For the younger generation, something from the “Harry Potter” series might make a connection. Music is usually a sure bet. Can you name the sources of the following references?

  • Star Trek and Social Media
  • Do Gamers Dream of HTML5 Sheep?
  • The Cloud as Skynet: Conquering Digital Overload
  • Get Smart! Hack Your Brain for Peak Performance
  • Wall-E or Terminator: Predicting the Rise of Al
  • Gimme Shelter from the Storm Clouds
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: ESAPI
  • The Field of Dreams Manifesto
  • Is That Your Final Offer? Mobile Dynamic Pricing
  • Not Your Mommy’s Blog: The Evolution of Dad Blogs
  • Why Doesn’t Congress Grok The Internet?
  • LEAN STARTUP: Baby Got (Feed)Back – Putting the Lean in Learn
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Babelfish: Automated Translation
  • U.S. Military’s Mad Science Revealed: DARPA Projects predict the future
  • Dear Miss Manners: the Social Web, WTF?
  • Social Media and the NBA
  • Zombies Must Eat: How Genre Communities Make Money
  • Minority Report: Social Media for Decreasing Health Disparities
  • My Prototype Beat Up Your Business Plan
  • Geppetto’s Army: Creating International Incidents with Twitter Bots
  • #FAIL: Infamous social Media PR Disasters

Contrarian Email Subject Lines, why not?

  • Stop Listening to Your Customers: Researching customer needs without asking them.
  • I’ve Never Met My Coworkers: Running International Teams
  • Who Are You and Why Should I Care? Personal branding
  • When Facebook Falls: Future-proofing Your Social Media Efforts
  • 27 (Fun!) Ways to Kill Your Online Community
  • HTML5? The Web’s Dead, Baby.
  • A World without SXSW
  • Fail big, Fail Often: How Fear Limits Creativity
  • Congratulations! Your Brand is About to Become Obsolete
  • The End of Reading in the USA

Science or Science Fiction References

  • The Next Rocket Scientist: You
  • Do Tablets Dream of Electric News?
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Pure Shock and Awe Email Subject Lines

Boring subject lines make me want to poke needles into my eyes! Sometimes it makes sense to hit readers over the head with something that is just plain shocking. Sometimes.

  • How Not to Die: Using Tech in a Dictatorship
  • How Mexico’s Drug Traffickers Harness Social Media
  • Language of Mutilation: Grammar for Ads & Life
  • Demographics Are Dead: Unlocking Flock Behavior
  • Everyone Is Gay: Social Media As Social Action
  • Media Measurement: Science, Art or a Load of Crap
  • Please Touch Me! Enterprise Delight via Multitouch
  • Your Social Media Job Is Dead: Now What?
  • Avoiding Bulls**t Personas: A Case Study
  • Eat, S**t, Sleep: Enlightenment Through Unemployment
  • Bordering Incest: Turning Your Company into a Family
  • Baby’s Gotta face For Radio: Web Based Radio?
  • Grow some balls: Build Business Relationships
  • Social Media and Comedy: F**k Yeah!
  • Kill Your Call Center! Bring Your Support Home
  • Bend Over? Surprise! Agencies Are Screwing You
  • How Blogs with Balls are Saving Sports Media
  • How to Personalize Without Being Creepy


  • Bloggers vs. Journalists: It’s a psychological Thing
  • Seven Reasons Your Employees Hate You
  • Influencer Throwdown: Proving Influence Once and For All

Email Subject Lines with Invented Words

If you find yourself with subjectlinitis, tossing a memebomb or two may be your best hope. New words can turn a deletophile into a reader.

  • Adprovising: Agile Marketing Made Easy
  • The Making of Twittamentary
  • Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas
  • Discover the New Frontier of the Glocal Internet
  • The Local Backbone of the SoLoMo Revolution
  • Coolhunting and Coolfarming with Social Media
  • Wireless Wellness: App-tastic or Just Fun & Games?
  • The Hyperlocal Hoax: Where’s the Holy Grail?
  • Radically Onymous: How Ending Privacy is Awesome!
  • Old Spice Resurrected: How Aging Icon Pwned Internet
  • The Future Enernet: a Conversion with Bob Metcalfe (Internet founder)
  • Technomadism: Becoming a Technology Enabled Nomad

Rhymes and Alliteration

Sensual subject lines supplement the bottom line. Alliteration is the repeated use of consonants. Rhymes grab your readers like a musical phrase. Don’t be afraid to add a little poetry to your prose.

  • Social Music Marketing: Bands, Brands & Fans
  • An Unusual Arsenal: Tech Tools to Topple a Tyrant
  • Invention & Inspiration: Building a Better World
  • Contextual Communication: Crowds and Coordination
  • Check Yo-Self Before U Wreck Yo-Self, Startup Metrics of the Masters
  • The Creative Collaboration Conundrum
  • Binary B****es: Keeping Open Source Open to Women
  • Teaching Touch: Tapworthy Touchscreen Design
  • Defining the Diaspora: Global Collaboration and Social Change
  • The Man in the Van needs Geo Location
  • Chatter Matters: Using Twitter to Predict Sales
  • People as Peripherals: The Future of Gesture Interface
  • Of Fanboys & Fidelity: Adopting Comics for Broad Audiences

Twisted Euphemisms

  • Cure for the Common Font – Secrets of selecting type
  • Influencers Will Inherit the Earth. Quick, Market to Them!

Create a Common Enemy

You may find your reader united behind you by identifying a common enemy – like the delete key.

  • When IT Says No: How to Create Fast Feature Flow
  • The Systematic Undoing of Copyright Trolls
  • Screw the Job Market: Young + Passionate ≠ Broke
  • Rise of the Social Spammers
  • Can Washington Make Your App Illegal?
  • Epic Battle: Creativity vs. Discipline in Social
  • Why Your 5-Year-Old Is More Digital Than Most CMOs
  • Has Twitter Made the Sports Reporter Obsolete?

Insult Someone

Don’t be a wimp. When all else fails drop the political correctness and tell the reader what you really think.

  • Advise THIS! Matchmaking Startups & High Profile Advisors
  • Shut Up & Draw: A Non-Artist Way to Think Visually
  • Flash: F Bomb or Da Bomb?
  • Big Ol’ Babies: Why Baby Boomers=Public Media FAIL
  • Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local

Powerful Email Subject Lines: Lead With a Number

Four session titles that use numbers. When we offer the reader a specific number of things, they know they are going to get a manageable set of tips or tricks that is easy to scan and digest.

  • 11 Reasons QR Codes Are Not Engaging Consumers
  • 3 Secrets to a Killer Elevator Pitch
  • 100 Things Designers Need to Know About People
  • Enterprise Social Media: Five Emerging Trends

Big Email Subject Lines Make Big Promises

If you’ve got the goods, big promises will make you rich in as little as three days. Big promises make the reader ask, “So, how can you do that?” even if they are skeptical. Of course, if you can’t deliver on the promise with sufficient proof in your email, all is lost – including your credibility.

  • Expanding Our Intelligence Without Limit
  • How to Live Forever
  • We Are Legion: Digital (R)Evolution
  • Change the Course of History with Greasemonkey
  • UCB Comedy presents: The Best Damn Stand-up

New This Year: Add an “i”

Turn your subject line into an iLine! All it takes is one little vowel.

  • iVision Africa: New Media’s Role in Reframing Africa
  • iPlant: Advanced Computing to Feed the World

Any Email Subject Line Will Do

There you have it. Over 100 titles to tantalize and titillate your email mind like a jolt of electricity from an unlicensed nuclear reactor, guaranteed to help you get lucky and make your ex jealous – if you’re not a total iDiot. Did I miss anything?

Hit us with your favorite subject lines in the comments.

Even the most abstract subject line can be used to make a point. Here’s how I would tie one from the list to an offer for my business:

From: Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist

Subject: OMG! My Pancreas Just Texted

OMG, my pancreas just texted.

My Liver just phoned.

My stomach just tweeted.

My brain is sending smoke signals.

Every cell of my body is dying to tell you about a new video I’ve just released.

Why am I (and all of my bodily parts) excited? Because online video marketing is rocking conversion rates.

Search engines love it.

Visitors love it.

Businesses like yours are getting more leads and sales from it.

And I think I’ve made it easy for anyone to understand how to use video on their Web site.

In just 11 minutes, I’m going to show you how to present a video on your site that will significantly increase the number of leads you’re getting from the traffic you already have.

Skeptical? Maybe I’m crazy.

I challenge you to take a look and see. If you don’t come away with a better understanding of how to increase conversion rates with video, I’ll get my spleen to cut down the chatter and leave you alone.

If you DO get it, I invite you to join a very special mailing list in which you’ll start to understand how to make all of your marketing convert visitors to leads and sales.

Watch Getting a Reaction from Online Video, and let me know what you think.

My heart will thank you for it.

Best regards,

Brian Massey

Are Bassett’s products as bad as their e-mail?

Six E-mail Mistakes that Bassett Furniture Used to Piss Me Off

Six E-mail Mistakes that Bassett Furniture Used to Piss Me Off

I’ve gotten three e-mails from Bassett Furniture this week. I did not opt-in for this communication. And, to top it off, the e-mail address they sent to is used in one place: my kids’ elementary school. It’s the address I expect to get information from my kids’ school. This sort of thing disgusts me enough to blog about it.

Will you vote for this on Digg and Sphinn? They need to get the message. You can do so at the bottom of this post by clicking on “Share.”

We Know How this Happened

This is probably more common in the tough market that retailers are currently facing. Some executive says, “We’ve got to get more sales. Use e-mail.” The underlings say, “But, we don’t have a database of e-mails because you didn’t approve that program last year.”

The execs don’t want to hear it. They’ve got a bonus to worry about. So, the underlings go out and buy a list from a list broker. This list was probably presented to them as a list of opt-in email addresses. List providers lie knowing that they can always hide behind the “we were told it was opt-in” excuse.

Bassett, this is not an opt-in list. It was scrapped from an elementary school Web site in Round Rock, Texas. You may get away with infringing on my privacy, but stay away from my kids.

Dear Bassett, in a down market, take market share away from your competitors, don’t give it away.

Poorly Executed to Boot

Once they’d found the list, the Bassett underlings asked, “what do we send?” Well, they didn’t spend much time on that question. They essentially scanned a print flyer and sent it on as one big image.

No introductory text

On my smart phone and in my email client, all you see is an email from Bassett Furniture and a URL.

This is what the email looks like in my e-mail preview pane.

This is what the email looks like in my e-mail preview pane.

With images turned off in my client, I got a big blank page. That’s their value proposition. “Big blank desperate spammer.”

There is no setup text to tell me why I would open it. Of course, I opened it because the address was scraped from the Web site of the school my elementary age kids attend.

No Value Proposition

Actually, “We’re Desperate” wouldn’t have been a bad value proposition. I would have responded to:

“We’re overstocked on the kind of furniture you’ve been wanting for your home, and we’re discounting to move it.”

No compelling call to action

If you allow your e-mail client to download the big stupid image, it says “Buy Online” at the top and bottom, and tells you when their sale ends. Most of the center is taken up with nine images of beds, tables and sofas with discounted prices. The never ask me to “Learn more” or “See more pictures.”

Not written in English

At the bottom of the page, below the big blank space you’ll find this lame — so lame — call to action: “Contact You Local Store for Details and other Special Offers. [sic]”

It makes you wonder what language this was translated from. “All your base are belong to us.”

The store finder is a nice feature and other retailers should steal this one shining feature of the site. Of course, Bassett fumbled the most important aspect of this effort: getting people to buy what they advertise.

Bad landing page

Given my horrid impression of Bassett from their e-mail, could they save themselves with an online experience that rocks? Nope.

The big graphic is a big link. No surprise. The page it takes me to has non of the products advertised in the email. In fact, it picks something at random  from their “CLEARANCE” tab. The featured item changes with each click.

So, the trail to a discounted item is lost within the first click, and I’m outta there.

The lawyers were consulted

To their credit, they did consult the lawyers. Their spam-mail is CAN SPAM compliant, with opt-out and mailing address.

What you should learn from this

  1. Don’t buy lists. It’s too easy to generate your own, pure, powerful opt-in house list from your own Web site. You just have to be willing to put in the time.
  2. Before you send an e-mail with a big image, consider plain text. It works better on phones and in e-mail clients where images are turned off (>50% by most accounts).
  3. Give me a reason to open and read. Each email has a value proposition that is part of your business’s value proposition. State it. Clearly.
  4. Take me to a page that has what you offer in your email. Whether it’s information or products, I have to see the same picture or the same text on the landing page. Never take me to your home page. Please.
  5. Have someone review your copy, someone who knows English.
  6. Follow the CAN SPAM rules. It’s the only reason I can’t report these idiots.

I’m not going to go into their subject line and From: address. It’s amazing that they even thought to include these.

I suspect Bassett’s marketing underlings will be fired for poor performance this Holiday Season. Maybe this post will save them.

For more rants and helpful tips on e-mail marketing, subscribe to The Conversion Optimization blog.