In-house E-Mail Campaign Yields Dollars, Knowledge

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A video services company's first e-mail campaign produced in-house was a twofold success, turning a profit and revealing the types of e-mail messages that work best.


321Cam.com, Arden Hills, MN, spent $2,995 on e-mail campaign software and $5,500 on two rented e-mail lists from Equifax. The overall effort to more than 65,000 names resulted in 64 software purchases totaling $12,000 and four hardware purchases totaling $2,000.


The company targeted several groups, testing different formats for each.


"I learned that text e-mail doesn't do as good as a picture, graphic or video," said Steve Cook, president of 321Cam.com, which provides real-time Web conferencing and video monitoring services. "People don't want to read a lot in an e-mail. They want to be entertained."


A single-image e-mail went Aug. 25 to 26,244 recipients within 70 miles of Minneapolis-St. Paul based on ZIP codes provided by the company to Equifax, along with 25,000 18- to 24-year-olds nationwide whose e-mail addresses were obtained in the past 90 days by Equifax.


The e-mail urged them to "shoot interactive web cam messages, dising your friends who aren't there." From the total of 51,244 e-mails sent in this part of the campaign, 7,102 clicked on the link. The e-mail produced 32 software purchases and one hardware purchase.


"I made the whole image clickable so they could click anything," Cook said. "People's attention spans are short, and they didn't have to read anything. They just saw a cool-looking graphic and said, 'Let's click it.' They went to the actual home page. Once you get people to your Web site, they could stick around and express an interest."


A text-based e-mail that told of a dog owner who used 321cam's products to check on his pet while he was away went Aug. 29-30 to the same recipients.


Of the e-mail to the 26,244 recipients, a little more than 8,000 were bounced back as invalid addresses or not accepted due to the use of a spam filter. From the group of 25,000, a little more than 11,000 were bounced back or not delivered.


The company didn't track bouncebacks on the Aug. 25 mailing, Cook said, "because I was new to the software."


For the text-based e-mail to the 26,244 recipients, 965 clicked one of its links, and nine software purchases were made. Of the 25,000 18- to 24-year-olds, 422 clicked on a link, generating three software purchases and one hardware buy.


"That was terrible," he said. "I only expected 5,000 to bounce back within each group. I was expecting more from the young adults since they have disposable income. I wanted to see how text e-mails would work."


Less successful was an e-mail sent to 14,082 names of pet lovers, 18- to 25-year-olds and IT support professionals obtained from software company IX Corp., which is involved in software development and e-mail marketing. This group received two newsletter-format e-mails sent Aug. 20 and 27.


The first one mentioned the opportunity to "lower your bandwidth video conferencing solution" since "bandwidth is expensive." The second e-mail described the features and benefits of 321Cam.com.


Only 287 recipients clicked on a link in the first, generating no purchases. The second newsletter e-mail produced 303 click-throughs for two software buys and one hardware purchase.


"A newsletter format for somebody who has never heard of our company didn't work since they don't want to read about a company they've never heard of," he said. "The newsletter format would work better for people who are current clients or who have expressed interest in us, or in order to provide a weekly or monthly update on service enhancements."


An "e-mercial video" sent Sept. 5-7 targeted everyone who had received e-mails previously in the campaign. A link directing recipients to the company's home page touted benefits such as chat rooms with instant messenger; live video; whiteboard, paint and draw; observe your home, children and pets while at work; check on your child's day care; and share special events with family who cannot attend.


From the more than 65,000 e-mails sent, 1,888 clicked to one of the links, producing 18 software purchases and one hardware purchase.


"It was a moving video short with sound, professionally made, with hired actors, and showed the capabilities of our software in use," Cook said.


The video showed scenes of a woman making a presentation, a warehouse worker stealing items from shelves and a child in day care.


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