Three-step email program reaps high response rates

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Three-step email program reaps high response rates
Three-step email program reaps high response rates

Vendor: e-Dialog
Objective: Leverage the response rates among new customers for multiproduct purchases through a first-time buyer program.

Founded in 1999,, a magazine subscription service, sells more than 2,000 publications. The company has used email to communicate with customers for nearly a decade, but most of those email communications were "general broadcast," says Nikki Getman, email marketing director at Getman and Joyce Shirer, the company's VP of marketing, decided that it was time to begin targeting those messages for better relevance and results. Two years ago, initiated tests to examine how timeliness impacted customers' interest in subscribing to 
another magazine. 

The company found that customers were more responsive to subsequent email communications within 60 days of their initial purchase. Based on that research, "we wanted to turn them into multiproduct buyers, because we knew that they were so much more responsive," says Getman.

STRATEGY: To leverage that responsiveness, worked with email marketing firm e-Dialog to create a first-time buyer program. The program, launched in September 2010, delivered a sequence of up to three emails to new customers within seven days after that customer made their first purchase on 

The first email comprised a welcome message sent the day after the initial purchase that included a limited time discount for a second purchase. Another email followed three days 
after the initial purchase featuring a $5 gift card toward future purchases. According to e-Dialog, roughly 95% of the site's new customers did not complete online customer profiles, 
including the submission of birthday information. To close that gap, seven days after their initial purchase, new customers received a third email asking them to complete their profiles and therefore join birthday program, which delivers a $5 coupon to customers on their birthdays.

RESULTS: The first-time buyer program generated better results than's regular email program, which is delivered on average twice a week, says Nicole Eaton, account manager at e-Dialog. 

The first-time buyer program resulted in three times higher open rates, 11 times higher clicks and 15 times higher revenue per email among the 95% of customers who had not filled out their profile information. Among the 5% who had submitted that information, it resulted in nearly double the open rates of the regular program and five times the clicks and 17 times the revenue per email.

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