Case Studies

Email marketing case studies

The Many Benefits of Engaging People’s Curiosity in Your Emails

By Justin Premick

BennyThis is a guest post by Benny Lewis of Fluent In 3 Months. We were talking about how he builds his list and keeps subscribers’ attention from email to email, and he offered to share some of his email marketing methods with you.

Take it away, Benny! -Justin Premick

My name is Benny Lewis, and I don’t have much experience in Internet marketing. I actually blog about rapid language learning.

But a year ago I started an email newsletter for my blog and have been getting an excellent return out of it.

How do I do it? I inject some personality into it, and I use people’s curiosity to get them on my list and keep them reading!

Satisfying People’s Curiosity as a List-Building Technique

For example, every couple of months I get a surge of sign-ups (usually about five times my normal rate) when I offer something much more valuable than a free e-book (which I do anyway); satisfying their curiosity!

BennyYou see, every few months I move to a new country and learn a new language. But the thing is, I keep the next language and destination a secret and only reveal it in advance to those in the email list. When I state on Twitter, Facebook and on the blog that I’m about to announce my new mission in the email list, so many new people jump on board!

The best thing is that the announcement is part of the email itself (not an attachment, or link) so this gets them used to the idea of appreciating opening and reading the email itself. This means that I have an incredibly low unsubscribe rate; especially as I make sure each weekly email is worthwhile content.

Ensuring Long Term Higher Open Rates

The problem with this of course is that it was only giving me the >higher open rates in bursts every few months, and then they would start going down again. While people constantly give me feedback that they love the content of the emails (which are unique and not simple links to blog posts), I still wanted to engage their curiosity over several emails, making sure those already in the list would be motivated to read some more.

So I found a fun way to do that! Instead of giving them the answer at once, I dropped clues in each email. This helped not only with open rates, but with engagement. I got more replies from readers than I knew what to do with!

For example, here’s the dramatic change of almost 11% in open-rates when I revealed just the destination of a recent language learning “mission”:

Here are the contents of that email above with the big clue:

But of course, this didn’t actually reveal the answer of which language it was! (In a previous clue, I said that I needed to go to this destination in particular, so it wasn’t about distant-learning). People were emailing me with guesses all over the place, especially building on previous confusing but interesting clues.

Monetizing That Curiosity Without Unsubscribes or Spam Complaints

I put a lot of work into my emails; almost as much as into the blog itself! And there aren’t any sales pitches at all in my typical weekly broadcasts. But I do of course need to make this worth my while financially, so I take advantage of the peak open rate, and since the sales pitch is so rare, I actually get no complaints about it.

When I finally revealed the answer, I knew that a lot of people would be reading that email so it was a perfect time to announce an update to my Language Hacking Guide and a temporary price reduction:

… I continued to describe some other additions to the guide and details about how to take advantage of the temporary discount. And then of course, I followed it up with what they had all been waiting for!

and I went on to describe my objectives with this language.

Even though the email started with a sales pitch, the replies were immensely positive as I had given them the final answer that had been worth waiting for. It was quite a surprise of course, after my usual preference for spoken languages!

But here is the best part: Because this was all part of a long-term strategy, the results of this email, which started with a detailed sales pitch, were 0% complaints (nobody marked it as spam) and 0.3% unsubscribes, which is actually what it tends to be for any typical email I send! Even though I gave them the answer they had been waiting for, they still stuck around. ;)

And of course I got a huge surge of sales that week as I ran the special offer, the vast majority of which were coming from my email list.

While I can only engage in the curiosity of what my next language will be every few months, what I do now is give weekly mission updates that I never mention on the blog, to share my progress and struggles so that readers can relate to it in their own language learning challenge. I always follow it up with a weekly tip or a link to a very helpful website for language learners to make sure they get some real quality out of the email.

In this way I feel my personality is getting through and I am constantly satisfying readers’ curiosity about what is happening in my language learning mission. Because of this, readers know that they can always get something worthwhile when they open my emails.

How Can I Do This on My Email List?

I am subscribed to quite a lot of email lists, and I have to say that as a reader I don’t feel so much personal engagement in a lot of them. Competitions seem to be run on things you can win rather than simply testing people’s intelligence in a less superficial way. Sometimes “winning” doesn’t mean getting a free e-book, but satisfying their curiosity.

  • If you run a competition, try to make it one that plays with their curiosity and make sure to say that the answer is within the email! Sending an email that simply links to an ebook or blog post makes the email itself less valuable. People should be opening an email for the content within the email if ever possible.
  • If your company has any public announcements that readers would be curious about then tell them that subscribers to the email list will find out first! It makes them feel like part of a special club. I go as far as to call my newsletter a “league” (more precisely “The Language Hacking League”) that people sign up to, since I’m sharing things with them they wouldn’t be able to find out anywhere else.

This very week I have reached the climax of another announcement and price reduction promotion, which you’ll see a part of on my blog. Of course, if you are curious about what my next language will be in advance of it starting, you can still find out by joining the e-mail list and reading the welcome e-mail this week, and hearing about it in advance in upcoming missions. :)

Benny Lewis teaches people to learn languages quickly at Fluent in 3 Months.

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Grow Your Email List 99% Faster: How One Site Did It

By Crystal Gouldey

What would you do to increase your subscriber growth by 99%? What if it just required a quick addition to your website?

Michael McCarthy’s investor relations site QualityStocks has a large subscriber base with consistent growth, but Michael wanted to find ways to continue increasing those numbers. We talked with him about strategies aimed at increasing his subscriber growth, and after some testing and review, found just a small change can yield huge results.

This lesson can be applied to all email marketing campaigns. If you’re looking for an easy way to bring in more subscribers, read on to learn what Michael did and why.

 

How QualityStocks Built Its List

QualityStocks connects their email subscribers with companies that they evaluate and determine have huge potential to succeed in the short and long-term future. There is a form on the site where people can sign up to get daily updates:

They also have other pages on their site that talk about the mailing list and invite visitors to subscribe. The forms he’s using are called inline forms, as they are on the page itself. Michael does a great job explaining his mailing lists and what subscribers can expect, and this has created a great foundation for his campaign.

The Change That Increased Subscriber Growth

When you have a successful campaign with consistent growth, it makes it difficult to justify implementing any changes. However, some changes rarely disappoint, and can even lift a campaign to a higher level of success. Adding a pop-over or lightbox form is one of those changes, as other AWeber customers have discovered in the past.

Michael added a lightbox form on his site. His home page has a good section dedicated to information about the mailing list, so it was decided it would perform best on the “About Us” page, which gets a lot of visitors.

The “About Us” page contains important information about the company and what’s offered, but their invitation to join the mailing list is not as prominent as it is on some of their other pages. The lightbox now allows that invitation to stick out on the page, bringing in more subscribers:

Adding the form on that page was a good move; it caused a 158% increase in subscriber growth compared to the previous month without the lightobox:

This monthly new subscribers chart shows the six months before and after when the lightbox form was introduced. There is a temporary drop in new subscribers during the holiday months before rapid growth resumes.

In the six months since the lightbox form was added, Quality Stocks has seen a 99% increase in subscriber growth compared to the prior six months.

Other Changes to Increase Subscriber Growth

Already have a pop-over on your site? Make sure you’re utilizing these tips so you aren’t losing potential subscribers:

  • Make sure your form is accessible- You can place your form “above the fold” which means that it will be in the upper half of your page. Your subscribers will be able to see it upon landing on your page, so they won’t need to scroll through your page to reach the sign up form.
  • Put an inline form on every page- Visitors may click through to different pages on your website. You want to make sure that a form in on every page so that no matter where they are, they have the option to sign up to your mailing list.
  • Utilize social media- Facebook has become a very popular social media platform and a great source for collecting subscribers. You can add a link to your web form on your Facebook page so visitors can become subscribers.

Add a Pop-over On Your Site

You can easily see what results you get by adding a pop-over form to your site, and you can always remove it if it’s not something you want to keep up on your site. Most find a pop-over is a great addition to their web site.

What have you done to increase subscriber growth? Do you think pop-up forms are effective on your site? Have you tried putting your pop-ups on different pages?

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What would you do to increase your subscriber growth by 99%? What if it just required a quick addition to your website?

Michael McCarthy’s investor relations site QualityStocks has a large subscriber base with consistent growth, but Michael wanted to find ways to continue increasing those numbers. We talked with him about strategies aimed at increasing his subscriber growth, and after some testing and review, found just a small change can yield huge results.

This lesson can be applied to all email marketing campaigns. If you’re looking for an easy way to bring in more subscribers, read on to learn what Michael did and why.

 

How QualityStocks Built Its List

QualityStocks connects their email subscribers with companies that they evaluate and determine have huge potential to succeed in the short and long-term future. There is a form on the site where people can sign up to get daily updates:

They also have other pages on their site that talk about the mailing list and invite visitors to subscribe. The forms he’s using are called inline forms, as they are on the page itself. Michael does a great job explaining his mailing lists and what subscribers can expect, and this has created a great foundation for his campaign.

The Change That Increased Subscriber Growth

When you have a successful campaign with consistent growth, it makes it difficult to justify implementing any changes. However, some changes rarely disappoint, and can even lift a campaign to a higher level of success. Adding a pop-over or lightbox form is one of those changes, as other AWeber customers have discovered in the past.

Michael added a lightbox form on his site. His home page has a good section dedicated to information about the mailing list, so it was decided it would perform best on the “About Us” page, which gets a lot of visitors.

The “About Us” page contains important information about the company and what’s offered, but their invitation to join the mailing list is not as prominent as it is on some of their other pages. The lightbox now allows that invitation to stick out on the page, bringing in more subscribers:

Adding the form on that page was a good move; it caused a 158% increase in subscriber growth compared to the previous month without the lightobox:

This monthly new subscribers chart shows the six months before and after when the lightbox form was introduced. There is a temporary drop in new subscribers during the holiday months before rapid growth resumes.

In the six months since the lightbox form was added, Quality Stocks has seen a 99% increase in subscriber growth compared to the prior six months.

Other Changes to Increase Subscriber Growth

Already have a pop-over on your site? Make sure you’re utilizing these tips so you aren’t losing potential subscribers:

  • Make sure your form is accessible- You can place your form “above the fold” which means that it will be in the upper half of your page. Your subscribers will be able to see it upon landing on your page, so they won’t need to scroll through your page to reach the sign up form.
  • Put an inline form on every page- Visitors may click through to different pages on your website. You want to make sure that a form in on every page so that no matter where they are, they have the option to sign up to your mailing list.
  • Utilize social media- Facebook has become a very popular social media platform and a great source for collecting subscribers. You can add a link to your web form on your Facebook page so visitors can become subscribers.

Add a Pop-over On Your Site

You can easily see what results you get by adding a pop-over form to your site, and you can always remove it if it’s not something you want to keep up on your site. Most find a pop-over is a great addition to their web site.

What have you done to increase subscriber growth? Do you think pop-up forms are effective on your site? Have you tried putting your pop-ups on different pages?

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When Should a Popover Form Appear?

By Crystal Gouldey


Question: Would you ask a visitor to do something right away, or after they’ve had some time to get to know you?

Pop-up type forms make this something you need to consider. These forms can greatly increase your subscribers for your email marketing campaign. You can set how much time elapses before the form comes up, but the question is: how much time should that be?

Split testing allows you to set up a controlled experiment within your account to test and see when you should have your form come up. We had a couple volunteers try out this experiment, and we’ll be discussing their results and why it may or may not work for you.

Time to set up some tests

SA logo

Karen Baker runs the email campaign for this South Africa travel company. She has a pop-over form set up on the site to come up immediately:

She decided to set up a split test to see if this was optimal, so she also set up a form that would appear after a delay of 30 seconds.

After several weeks, we took a look at the results. The form that came up immediately had a 45% higher subscription rate than the other form, making it the winner. Satisfied with these results, this is the form that is on her site now.

ministry logo

Tony Kummer runs the email campaign for this site that has online resources for teaching kids about Christianity. He set up a pop-over form on Ministry-To-Children.com:

His pop-over comes up within 10 seconds of landing on the page. Like Karen, he decided to test how a form that comes up after a delay would perform in comparison, and he set up a form to come up after 40 seconds.

Again, we let the test run for several weeks before looking at the results. Tony ended up having similar results in that the form that comes up shortly after landing on the page was the winner with a 50% higher subscription rate.

What does this mean?

Having a shorter delay definitely brings in more subscribers for these examples. This may be because people don’t stay on a particular page that long, as they’ve found and clicked on a link they’re interested in before they’ve even seen the form. Another reason could be they are more likely to close out a form that comes up after they’re already looking at content, and don’t want to be taken away from that page.

It may also just be the visitors are prepared to fill out something that pops up shortly after they land on a page, especially if they’re already familiar with the company and know they want to be on the mailing list.

This is why it’s good to have an inline form as well. The inline form should be immediately visible upon landing on the page, and if possible, on all pages of your website.

When might this not work as well?

While having the form come up immediately works well for our examples, there are some situations it wouldn’t works as well.

  1. The page doesn’t have a lot of information. If the web page doesn’t have a lot of content on it, people aren’t going to be staying on the page long. They’ll be finished reading through the site before the form is scheduled to pop up.
  2. You’ve got some convincing to do. If you’re marketing a new idea or a new product, you may want to let visitors read over your information a bit asking them to commit to your mailing list.
  3. Required reading is your goal. Some businesses only want subscribers that have stayed on the site for a certain amount of time and read all the good stuff that’s up there. After enough time has elapsed, then they get the mailing list offer.

Do a split test to find what works for you!

Does your pop-up come up immediately or do you have a delay? Have you tested delays for your pop-ups? Why do you think your pop-up timing is important?

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4 Tips For Using Frequent Email Deals To Sell More

By Crystal Gouldey

Online retailers rejoiced at the news their email marketing campaigns are eagerly read by consumers. This report showed that nearly half of those surveyed said they look forward to finding the latest deals in their inbox.

The question is: are you creating compelling messages that make subscribers keep coming back for more?

Roller Warehouse has their aggressive skating crowd interacting with them regularly, thanks to their email campaign. Their biweekly deal approach has brought them a great return on investment, customers are interacting with their business like never before, and they were eager to share their results and strategies with fellow online marketers. Here they are…

The Biweekly Deals from Roller Warehouse

Roller Warehouse sends out their deals on skating equipment and apparel every Tuesday and Friday.

The Tuesday email usually looks like this:

Tuesday’s email requires a phone call to order the sale item:

Roller Warehouse explains that the reason the deal can’t be done online is because their price is too low to publish. This is a great way to get customers on the phone and talking to you. That offer also gives a sense of urgency, since the deal has an expiration date.

The Friday deal the subscriber can order online:

This approach can appeal to subscribers that are interested in getting deals, but maybe don’t want to call in to order. Another consideration is that subscribers may have more time on the weekend to think about their hobby.

There is also the advantage that online orders can come in while offices are closed for the weekend.

This deal also has a sense of urgency, since it expires once the weekend is over.

Results from the Biweekly Deal Approach

Roller Warehouse is proud of the campaign’s performance so far. Since implementing this method they’ve had:

  • 8-10% increase in sales after each email deal is sent out
  • Facebook fans increase 32%
  • 30-35% increase in blog traffic

Why This Works and How To Apply it to Your Campaign

1. Consider the Audience

Roller Warehouse’s target market consists of kids and young adults. Roller Warehouse looked at reports of when subscribers were opening the messages, and that’s how they found Tuesday would be a good send day. Friday was picked as the second day because most of their audience doesn’t have school on the weekends.

Are you looking at when your subscribers are reading? Use your reports to find out what day your subscribers open messages, and send your emails keeping that information in mind.

2. Utilize Social Media

Roller Warehouse promotes sharing their deals with others by including a link to share with Facebook friends:

With one click the deal can be shared with friends, allowing even more people to interact with Roller Warehouse. You can do this by uploading the Facebook logo as an image in your email, then hyperlink that image using this:

http://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=<url>

Just replace the <url> with the link you want to share.

With social media becoming an increasingly more valuable tool for marketing, you want to make sure you’re using sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote your business

3. Build a relationship with subscribers

Roller Warehouse does not just go for the hard sell in their deals. They use a friendly tone and even create cool videos for the products they’re promoting:

You can click to view one of their videos below:

Roller Warehouse also keeps in mind that not everyone will be attracted to the featured deal, so they include other products that are on sale as well:

Along with that, Roller Warehouse includes news from their blog so subscribers will still interact with the site even if they aren’t interested in the current deals:

Take a look at your last email and make sure you’re working on building a relationship. Are you having a conversation with your subscribers or is it an advertisement? Are you asking for feedback? Do you provide materials your subscribers will find interesting?

Have a friend look over your messages and let you know if your personality comes out in it, or if it sounds like a salesperson.

4. Stay Consistent

If you don’t set expectations for valuable messages, subscribers won’t be reading. Roller Warehouse has set a consistent schedule for their campaign, which means subscribers know when to expect getting the deals. All their messages include either the phone deal for Tuesday or online deal for Friday, and they make sure to include product demos in all their messages.

Make sure you have set expectations for your campaign early on, and stick to the schedule and material you promised!

Have You Tried Frequent Email Deals With Your Campaign?

Roller Warehouse likes how their biweekly deals are performing, while companies like Groupon and LivingSocial have found daily email deals work great for them.

What results have you seen from email deals? What other tactics have you tried to increase sales?

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Email Segmentation Lifts Sales Over $31,000

By Justin Premick

Segmentation PathsOver the past week or so, we’ve talked about email segmentation a few times.

While the three posts did show you how to segment your subscribers, they didn’t talk much about why you should do so, or what to say to different groups. Some of you asked about this.

Well, just the other day, AWeber user Yaro Starak talked about those very things on his blog.

Thoughts On His Experience And Results:

(If you haven’t done so already, go read Yaro’s post before continuing – it’ll put my comments below in much better context!)

  1. He started by communicating with all subscribers evenly – in other words, not segmenting.

    While it might seem counterintuitive, often sending a few emails without segmenting is the start of a good segmentation campaign.

    If you’re going to segment based on what different people are responding to… you have to give them a chance to respond first!

  2. Rather than just re-email the same message to non-openers, he tried different message content.

    In reading/listening to some marketers, I get the impression some people think the only or “best” segmenting tactic is to resend the same message to people who didn’t open it the first time.

    I’m all for exposing potential customers to a product multiple times, but this isn’t the only way to use segmentation (it’s one possible way, but you need to test it against different original content too!).

    Good on ya for testing, Yaro.

  3. He merged previously segmented groups back together, based on later actions.

    Segmentation doesn’t have to be complicated (though you can make it that way if you like… ;) ).

    Yaro sent the third message to people who clicked through on either of the first 2 messages.

    While this won’t always apply to your campaigns, if 2 different groups that you previously segmented start to show similarities, it may make sense to again treat them as one more uniform group.

Your Thoughts On Email Segmentation?

My notes certainly aren’t the only ideas you might take away from Yaro’s experience.

What approaches to email segmentation do you think you can take for your business?

Are there other ways you might have segmented in his example?

Share your thoughts!


Know someone who could benefit from segmenting subscribers?

Share this article with them on StumbleUpon, Delicious or Twitter – or just send them this link!

Social Proof Tool Boosts Landing Page Conversion 32.4%

By Justin Premick

The recent release of a new subscriber count chicklet met a mixed response.

We’ve read plenty of positive comments on the blogs who covered this feature.

But there were definitely others (both in the release post’s comments and on other blogs) who doubted the usefulness of such a feature.

Of course, this is one of those cases where you should apply the best lesson in marketing — Test!

Personal trainer and AWeber user Carl Juneau did just that, setting up a split test on his landing page to see if the presence of the subscriber count chicklet affected opt-in rates.

He swung by our blog the other day to share his results.

Adding The Chicklet Increased His Opt-In Rate By 32.4%

In a comment, Carl shared his results:

Justin, Mark, other readers:

I implemented the the readers widget on my landing page the day it came out in an A/B split using Google Optimizer (services.google.com/websiteoptimizer).

Here are the results:

OVERALL
Visitors: 552
Conversions: 140
Conversion rate: 25.36%

PAGE A: NO WIDGET
59 conversions / 271 visitors
21.8% ± 3.5% conversion rate

PAGE B: WITH WIDGET
81 conversions / 281 visitors
28.8% ± 3.7% conversion rate

Page B chance to beat Page A: 97.2%
Improvement: 32.4%

Results impressed me and are significant at the a=5% level. I only have 2300 readers, so even (relatively) low numbers benefit conversion.

Key Takeaways

  • You don’t have to have a huge list for this to work.

I think a lot of people believe social proof is only effective when you’re talking about huge numbers of people, like the McDonald’s “Billions and Billions Served” signs.

Carl doesn’t have billions of subscribers. He has just over two thousand. And yet, the chicklet still made a big impact on his landing page conversions. Why?

Here’s what I think: the more homogeneous your audience is, the more powerful social proof is.

If McDonald’s said “2300 Served,” well… who cares? There are millions (billions?) of people who eat hamburgers. 2300 isn’t that many in the grand scheme of things.

But narrow your audience down to people actively interested in getting six-pack abs, and suddenly 2300 readers is a helpful cue that Carl knows what he’s talking about.1

  • Test. Then, test some more.

Carl’s not haphazardly adding and removing stuff from his page.

He’s using Google’s Website Optimizer to test and track, and he’s making sure to get statistically significant results.

As we’ve discussed before, split testing is a crucial element of a successful marketing campaign.

So start today! To help, here are some split test ideas you can use for your email campaigns.

More Split Test Results To Come Soon

I’m in touch with Carl directly to discuss some other possible tests we can do to raise his opt-in rates further (and share the results with you, of course!).

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1. For more on social proof, I strongly recommend Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and his newer book Yes! 50 Scientifically Ways to Be Persuasive. Both give numerous examples of how social proof affects decision-making.