May 6, 2004, 12:00 AM

To really know what works, track e-mail results to the end, retailer says

A test of different subject lines by Flax Art & Design created varied responses, but the end result turned the top level results upside down.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Tracking of e-mail response rates all the way through purchase is key to determine what works and what doesn’t, Craig Flax, managing director at Flax Art & Design, told the Annual Catalog Conference. Flax tested two subject lines on an e-mail. The open rate for each was about the same and the click-through rate was only slightly higher for one than for the other. The one with the higher click-through rate generated 50 sales, the other one, 30 sales. But the telling information was in total sales: the segment with the lower click-through rate had an average purchase of $99.55 while the segment with the higher click-through had an average ticket of $47.67. Total sales were $2,986 for the lower click through and $2,383 for the higher.

Flax spoke at the This Worked, That Didn’t session, which was hosted by direct marketing consultant Herschell Gordon Lewis. Lewis noted that while spam filters are reputed to knock out e-mails with “free” in the subject line, his experience has been that “free” still pulls strongly. And in fact, Flax said his company’s experience was similar. “We made a mistake and sent out an e-mail with “Free” in our offer,” he said. “We didn’t have the deliverability problems that we thought we’d have.”



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