Strategy: The company started segmenting its list, breaking it into franchise type and location categories, while at the same time doing A/B testing and content refinement.
Results: The number of leads generated from e-mail campaigns increased by up to 75% year-over-year. The company has also cut its paid marketing expenses by about 15%.
Decade-old FranchiseOpportunities.com is an online directory that links up people looking to buy and to sell franchise businesses. Investors come to the site to find businesses opportunities and request further information.
The company, which uses e-mail marketing to drive visitors to its site, has a large database of more than 100,000 prospects, each of whom has expressed interest in becoming a franchise owner, said Garth Snider, president of FranchiseOpportunities.com. Once or twice a month, the company sends out an e-mail newsletter to all 100,000 prospects on its list; the e-mail contains profiles of six or seven companies that FranchiseOpportuni-ties.com selects from a database of its 350 customers who are looking to sell a franchise. Results of that process have been mixed, Snider said.
“It's hit or miss in terms of how well we will resonate with the [ e-mail recipient],” he said. Looking to change that, early this year the company started to segment its list of prospects, sending out smaller, more targeted, sponsored e-blasts that contain a single, specific franchise offer with a direct link to the franchise owner's landing page. FranchiseOpportunities chooses which prospects receive a particular offer based on industry, geographic location, available liquid capital and overall net investment capabilities.
FranchiseOpportunities.com is also testing its e-mails more, Snider said. “One of the things the recession has taught us is to pay a lot more attention to subject lines and copy,” he said. “In the past we had so many leads coming in from other sources, we didn't give the creation of our e-mail communications the priority it should have had.”
The company has moved away from sending out news-oriented copy and is focusing more on the actual business opportunities. “They don't need my little newsletter to tell them about [Small Business Administration] loans,” Snider said.
Copy in the e-blasts also is more action-oriented. For example, in one recent e-mail, Snider said, the company changed the phrase "Become a business expert' to "Become a business consultant.' “Most people don't consider themselves experts, but they could see themselves as consultants,” he said. “It's all about semantics—taking an active voice that uses language our prospects use.”
From a design standpoint, e-mails are cleaner, with few, if any, images.
Those changes coupled with more-targeted pitches have resulted in a significant increase in leads, Snider said. And the lessons the company has learned from the dedicated e-mails have also been applied to its monthly e-mail newsletters, boosting lead generation across the board, he said. “We always had a great database, but we weren't giving [recipients] what they wanted. Now we've improved, and it shows. From 2008 to 2009 we have increased the number of leads coming from e-mail campaigns by 50% to 75%,” he said. “We're getting prospective franchise owners and business owners together.”