E-mail List Testing: Tactics to Try
Developing an effective e-mail prospecting program, especially amid today’s heightened sensitivity to spam, can be a tough proposition, even for the most experienced direct marketing expert.
To be sure, the raw numbers needed to justify large-scale, opt-in e-mail testing just haven’t been that great. In fact, some catalogers have given up on e-mail prospecting. But there are some trends in e-mail marketing that could make the sales channel more productive for mainstream catalogers.
First, a quick background of the e-mail list industry: At the height of the e-mail craze three years ago, there were many compiled and category-driven lists (i.e., consumers who chose specific categories of interest) on the market. There were no merge/purge or direct-response files on the market.
At first glance it would appear that very little has changed since then. While compiled e-mail files have grown, very few direct response files have come to market. In fact, a recent informal review done by Marketing Information Network found there are now more than 1,900 e-mail lists and a total non-deduped universe of more than 4 billion names. But out of all these names, only 10 lists were true direct-response e-mail files such as Rodale or Time Inc. The rest were compiled or category-driven opt-in files.
That said, you can get e-mail prospecting to work. To help explain, I’ll examine one hypothetical case study:
Company A is an outdoor-apparel cataloger with a well-designed Web site and a great deal of Internet experience, mainly in affiliate programs and cost-per-click search engines. It has an average online order of $80, and it needs a break-even gross cost per customer to continue with a program.
Company executives decide to test opt-in e-mail to generate new sales. They initially test a category-driven list with an Outdoor Apparel interest selection. They rent 10,000 names at a $45 CPM.