BtoB uses subject line drop-down ads to increase response

By Published on . sells insurance to consumers on behalf of HSBC Insurance Agency, but it’s also a b-to-b company in that it hires co-marketing partners to help it find leads and make sales.

The company is always looking for tools to make its co-marketing partners’ job easier, and earlier this year, one of its partners introduced a technology that does just that. Advenix, an e-mail technology company that also facilitates co-marketing programs, developed a product called VisualSubject, a graphical “billboard” that drops a small banner ad down from an e-mail subject line.

The software works like this: When an e-mail recipient moves his or her cursor over a small magnifying glass that sits to the left of the sender’s name and subject line, a graphical ad drops down—much like a small banner ad—explaining what the offer is and where it originated. Of course, there is one drawback to the technology: Advenix must partner with Webmail companies and ISPs to enable VisualSubject. Without this, the magnifying glass won’t be visible, and neither will the ad.

Still, even with the limited number of people viewing the enhanced ads, it is a huge benefit, said Debi Rabin,’s senior business development specialist, because it circumvents image blocking.

“They get a graphic even if they have the images turned off,” she said. “It also gives them a good glimpse at the offer. They can see much more information about the offer and the company than they ever could in the subject line or the preview pane. And the more enticing the offer seems, the more likely they will be to open the e-mail.” only pays for the service if someone clicks on the magnifying glass and then clicks through via the e-mail to the company’s offer. is paying out, though, because e-mails sent with VisualSubject enabled are seeing a conversion rate that is between 10% and 15% higher than similar campaigns, Rabin said. Those numbers may go higher as the company starts creating custom ads to place in the drop-down banners, she said.

“We started out just placing banners that came out of our overall creative group. Now we’re trying to work better with this format, making them prettier and easier to read,” she said. “VisualSubject is already making an impact with branding and getting my message out there. Once we start adding better call to actions, we anticipate even better responses.”

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