September 29, 2011, 11:32 AM tests e-mails to make its offers stand out

The Canadian daily-deal site runs subject line and timing tests with its e-mail service provider.

Lead Photo, a Canadian daily-deal site, has to compete for attention in the inboxes of its 1.2 million subscribers. It has four major competitors, including Groupon and LivingSocial, vying for click-throughs and sales in its home market of Toronto alone. To better compete, decided about a year ago to routinely test and refine its e-mail messaging strategy.

The decision to change up its e-mail strategy coincided with some major changes for the daily-deal seller. Torstar Corp., a media conglomerate whose holdings include the Toronto Star newspaper and, bought in June 2010. At the time, was selling deals in about 40 Canadian markets. Now it sells in more than 80. Torstar’s existing media properties in smaller metro areas helped make the rapid expansion possible, says Kory Jazbec, manager of e-mail marketing for Torstar Digital. decided to retire the e-mail services vendor it had used since its launch in 2009 and began using services from Bronto Software Inc., which says could handle its rapidly growing subscriber list and let it run more refined tests. The daily deal site now conducts a new test weekly, aiming to improve the open and click-through rates of its e-mails.  

“We found that there are specific things we can test to increase opens and click rates,” Jazbec says, noting some examples. “We run subject line tests and make different calls to action, and try different layouts within the template.”

One test, for example, revealed that open rates improved 5% when removed from the subject line the percent-off savings the lead deal offered. conducted the tests using Bronto’s testing platform and split the test so half the subscribers within the deal’s region saw the new language and half saw the percent-off message normally used. “Through testing, we realized our subscribers already knew they were getting a certain percentage or more off, so removing it from the subject line and replacing it with more intriguing language about what the offer was increased open rates,” Jazbec says. promotes new deals every day, but a deal is valid for purchase for seven days, unlike Groupon and LivingSocial whose deals normally are only available for 24 hours. With the longer sale period, is now testing how it can use reminder e-mails later in the sales week to spur consumers to make a last-minute buy. Jazbec says doesn’t want to send too many e-mails because that can cause consumers to pay less attention to them when they arrive in their inbox, so is using Bronto’s reporting system to identify which consumers expressed interest in the deal by clicking through from the original e-mail to view more information about it on It is then sending only those consumers a reminder e-mail nudging them to buy before the deal expires. In tests, the reminder e-mail has triggered sales to increase on the last day an offer is available by 10% to 15%.

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