September 27, 2007, 12:00 AM

How two retailers’ one-on-one campaigns boosted e-mail response rates

Marketers have long known that open, click-through and conversion rates all increase when they segment lists and include personalized offers in e-mails. Now, VistaPrint and Philosophy.com have found that they more specific a marketer can get, the better the return.

Marketers have long known that open, click-through and conversion rates all increase when they segment lists and include personalized offers in e-mails. Now, a couple of retailers have found that the more specific a marketer can get, the better the return.

VistaPrint, an online supplier of graphic design services and customized printed products, increased e-mail-driven revenue by 20% in a recent campaign to existing customers. And cosmetics retailer Philosophy.com generated an average of more than $3 on each e-mail delivered to reactivate former customers.

Trynka Shineman, senior vice president of North American marketing at VistaPrint, says most of the improvement in e-mail campaigns has been tied to higher average order values resulting from offers for higher-priced products to customers known to have an interest in them, as demonstrated by purchase history or analytic modeling.

Because VistaPrint provides custom-printed products, e-mail content can be highly customized. “If a customer has ordered a business card, we can show them their business card in an e-mail with a re-order call-to-action,” Shineman says.

In one campaign, showing a customer a previously ordered business card in an e-mail increased the click-through rate by 40%. “When we improved the process by landing those customers on a page that allowed them to edit and then order the same business card in just a few clicks, it improved the campaign conversion rate by 15%,” she says.

At Philosophy.com, a recent e-mail campaign designed to reactivate former customers into purchasing did just that. Though the company did not disclose what it spent on the initiative, it says it achieved payback on its implementation costs within two months and generated an average $3.34 in sales for each e-mail delivered.

The initial campaign, designed and conducted with the support of e-mail services vendor Responsys Inc., was a multi-stage program targeting special offers to Philosophy customers who hadn’t made a purchase in three months. Non-responders received a second, more attractive offer within a few weeks. The e-mails produced an average open rate of 67% and an average click-through rate of 54%, Philosophy says.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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