Britannica sees revenue boost from targeted e-mails

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Looking for a way to boost sales from its online store, Encyclopaedia Britannica was one of five companies that tested a new feature from Silverpop, which enabled them to target e-mails to the day and time the intended recipient is likely to be perusing their inbox.

Encyclopaedia Britannica typically sends out one to two e-mails a week to its list of 120,000 subscribers who have opted-in to receive news on specials, products or other offerings from the Britannica store. The company also occasionally sends newsletter e-mails tied into the content of the encyclopedia.

The e-mails usually were sent between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., and the company could track the open and click-thru rates as well as the net revenue per 1,000 e-mails sent, said Kassie Stephenson Adams, director of consumer marketing and campaign management for the Chicago-based company.

Silverpop's Send Time Optimization feature, part of the company's Engage online marketing suite, analyzes recipient behavior on a rolling basis to help predict the optimum delivery time for their e-mail recipients. The e-mails are then sent out, targeted to an individual's time that they are most like to be viewing their inboxes.

Getting an e-mail in an inbox precisely when someone is in it was a “huge advantage,” said Adams of what interested Britannica in the Send Time Optimization feature.

“If I can get to these people when they want to hear from me, that made a lot of sense to me,” she said. “It gave me a competitive advantage.”

The company first tested the optimization feature in an April 7 mailing alerting its 120,000 subscribers to the company's Spring Sale. Half of the list was sent the e-mail in the morning, while the remainder of the list was sent using the optimization feature.

As a result, the company saw a 40% lift in revenue from those who received the targeted e-mails, Adams said. The company tested the feature a couple more times and saw similar results, she said, and now have made it a standard in their e-mail campaigns.

“We did not see any effect on open or click rate, but what we did see was when they clicked through, they purchased,” Adams said. Targeting the e-mail to the customer's specific window was “getting it to them at a time they are ready to make a purchase,” she said.

“Silverpop was pretty innovative in coming up with solutions to help us in this economy.”

Results among the test clients as a whole found a 20-46% increase in open rates, a 30-50% increase in click rates and a 30% increase in total number of orders per campaign, Silverpop said.

The company formally launched its new optimization feature last week, and it will be available to Silverpop's entire Engage client base by the end of May. Silverpop also announced expansion into Germany this week, with the opening of an office in Munich with financial backing from venture capital firm European Founders Fund.

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