ETunnels Unearths Popular E-Mail Format

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The fancier the e-mail, the better the response. That's what eTunnels Inc. found when it tested three formats of e-mails last month.


ETunnels, a Seattle-based provider of virtual private network solutions, sent e-mails to 45,000 of its business-to-business customers. One-third received a text e-mail, another one-third received a standard HTML e-mail, and the final third received a more complex HTML e-mail designed to work like a multimedia brochure.


The text e-mails recorded a 0.1 percent response rate, the standard HTML e-mails had a 1.4 percent response rate, and the more sophisticated HTML brought in a 2.1 percent response rate.


The subject line was the same in all three formats, the company said.


Prior to the campaign, eTunnels expected the response rate for all three e-mail types to range from 1.5 percent to 2 percent.


"There's so much noise and clutter out there that people just get bombarded with messages," said Brian Hodges, vice president of marketing at eTunnels. "So when sending out an e-mail, you have to figure out a way to make it stand out and pop. You have to turn it up a notch. I always like to put myself in the recipient's shoes and say, 'What's going to elevate this message so that it absolutely jumps out at me?' "


That's especially important given the Internet-savvy level of eTunnels' service provider customers. Though text e-mails may be effective for marketing to consumers, Hodges said, a more computer-literate, business customer base requires a more "aesthetically pleasing" look.


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