BtoB sees success with e-mail campaign

By Published on ., an online resource for designers and architects, needed an integrated system to handle e-mail requests it was getting from customers.

The site lets designers and architects search through online catalogs for products they need, then request more information about those items directly from the manufacturers. The Web site acts as the conduit, sending e-mails between users and manufacturers. That is why deliverability is so important to the company.

“We needed to be able to track which suppliers were getting the e-mails, who is responding and who’s not so we could follow up with them and remind them that they had a customer request for information,” said Avi Flombaum, chief technology officer at

Until this January, that was nearly impossible. The company had its own e-mail server, which it used to handle every e-mail sent. But that wasn’t working, Flombaum said. “We’d get e-mails from customers who would say, ‘I requested more information a week ago and I haven’t heard anything back.’ We really needed an integrated system.”

So the company started working with e-mail service provider Sailthru, handing off all its transactional and campaign messages. As part of the service, also got advice on designing its templates and e-mails.

The results have been exciting, Flombaum said. During the month of January, the open rate on requests for information averaged 22%, while the overall open rate—a combination of all transactional and marketing messages—was 33%.

More recently, between March 15 and April 15, the request-for-information open rates have shot up to 60%, while general open rates are up to 47%. Flombaum attributed this to Sailthru’s relationships with major ISPs, as well as the following tips Sailthru provided to make e-mails more effective.

  • Solidify the call to action. When users sign up for the service, they receive an e-mail asking them to click through and confirm their opt-in. “Our welcome template didn’t make it clear that the people who signed up weren’t quite finished with the registration,” Flombaum said. “They really needed to click on that link, and we had to make that more obvious.”
  • Make links transparent. previously hid links on the site due to their long length. “Sailthru told us we should show the link in addition to the content that it was linked to,” Flombaum said. That way, people who had HTML disabled could copy and paste the link. They could also see that the link they were clicking on was actually on the site.
  • Don’t be stingy. had a tendency to keep e-mails light—both in content and quantity. However, too little content can often look like spam. “Sailthru told us that if we didn’t have enough in our e-mail, it could actually trigger spam filters,” Flombaum said.
  • Give the right people access to metrics. Making a potential customer wait even one day can mean the difference between a sale made and a sale lost. As a result, now gives salespeople access to the sales log. “Any supplier who hasn’t responded to an e-mail within three days—now we pick up the phone and call them,” Flombaum said. “The logs are helping us teach the suppliers how to deal with requests.”
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