Marketer Cancels Direct Mail After E-Mail Response Rates Soar

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Technology provider Global Risk Exchange is generating a 24 percent response rate for its first e-mail campaign since it scrapped direct mail contact with customers in April.


"People today in general are bombarded with mailers and direct letters sent, and it takes a really heavy creative to overcome [that]," said Erik Dorsey, marketing manager at Providence, RI-based GRX. "At least with the e-mail, perhaps because it was easy enough for [recipients] to look at, people were willing to click just from a curiosity perspective."


The switch to e-mail exclusively came after a multichannel campaign in April that targeted GRX's audience of risk managers, brokers and underwriters in the insurance industry. The goal of the campaign was to attract prospects to attend an online or in-person demonstration of GRX's software.


The company contacted 565 prospects through each of three channels: personalized letters, a 6-inch-by-9-inch mailer and HTML e-mails.


The letters generated just three responses and no sales, while the mailer netted 16 responses and also no sales. The e-mails, however, generated more than 165 responses for a 30 percent response rate. Sixty-three percent of respondents were converted into customers.


The latest e-mail campaign went out last month to 1,014 insurance industry executives. It has drawn 242 requests to view product demonstrations, and the company has closed 14 sales as a result. Ultimately, the company hopes to convert 75 percent of respondents into buyers.


Dorsey attributes much of GRX's e-mail success to an agreement in January with Cambridge, MA-based MarketSoft Corp., in which GRX switched from Microsoft Outlook to MarketSoft's e-mail software to manage its campaigns.


MarketSoft's software allowed GRX to automate e-mail campaigns better and used a rules-based program that permitted improved targeting, Dorsey said.


"We're able to tailor our e-mails so that each party is receiving information that's important to them within a single blast," Dorsey said. "We don't have to sit there and set it up for 20 different e-mail blasts individually. The system does it for us."


Prior to the switch, he said, "We were literally flying blind, if you will, with our electronic marketing campaigns. Outlook didn't give us any tools to tell who's getting our message, how they're receiving it, where they went from there. It just didn't give us enough tools to be effective in our direct e-mail campaigns."


GRX also distributes monthly, informational e-mail newsletters to its online database of 4,000 insurance professionals. Dorsey said traffic to Global's Web site, www.grx.com, increases from 200 or so daily visitors to approximately 1,000 visitors on days when the newsletter is distributed.


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