Case study: Practicon Inc.

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Practicon Inc.'s e-mail campaign was scheduled to begin in January, but the company was having difficulty merging data from four customer databases into one central database.

"That was our biggest challenge," said Sharon Crisman, interactive manager at Practicon. She said the company ended up hiring a vendor to tackle this project and also hired Grey eMMetrics, a unit of Grey Direct, to develop strategy and execute the e-mail campaign.

Practicon Inc.
Location: Greenville, N.C.
Target audience: 45,000 purchasers of dental products
E-mail campaign goal: Drive traffic and sales on
Results: Average 8% click-through rate
Grey helped the company divide customers into "recency, frequency and monetary" segments so it could better track and predict purchasing activity.

The campaign launched in February. Every two weeks, customers received an e-mail featuring select products or new items advertised in Practicon's upcoming catalog. The text, written by Practicon, occupied slightly more than a standard page. The subject lines were simple and direct, such as "Sneak preview of our new products" or "Innovative products now featured online."

Practicon sent three versions—HTML, text and AOL—because not all customers could receive e-mails in an HTML format.

"If users don't have the ability to read HTML, then we send them straight text," said Parijat Gandhi, senior account executive at Grey eMMetrics. Because the parameters for links are slightly different for customers with AOL e-mail addresses, he said, Grey's interface determines on the fly which version to send.

So far, click-through rates have ranged between 2% and 40%, depending on the customer segment. The average rate for all e-mails sent, regardless of format, is 8%. The average click-through rate for HTML e-mails is 14%. Likewise, the "open rate," or the number of recipients who open thee-mail, averages 27% overall but soars to 47% for HTML e-mails.

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