MagnetsUSA revamps e-mail marketing strategy with Silverpop

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Before last year, MagnetsUSA, which sells marketing magnets to businesses, always used direct marketing with good results. Unfortunately, the techniques and best practices that worked for direct mail didn’t work as well when applied to e-mail marketing.

For one thing, some direct marketing messages read like spam when they hit an in-box. But that wasn’t MagnetsUSA’s only problem. When the company decided to do e-mail marketing, it signed on with a low-volume service provider, sharing e-mail servers with other marketers. The combination led to two separate but equally distressing problems: MagnetsUSA was placed on several black lists, and those messages that did get through weren’t well-received, said Robert Lusk, the Roanoke, Va.-based company’s marketing manager.

“We found ourselves suddenly blocked. We weren’t getting through, and we realized that we needed a different kind of service that allowed us to have our own unique server,” he said. “We also needed someone who knew how to do e-mail marketing.”

Lusk signed up with e-mail service provider Silverpop and things changed immediately.

One of the first things Silverpop did was work with the ISPs that had blocked the company, moving MagnetsUSA off every blacklist. Then the marketing work started.

Lusk had been sending out marketing messages on an ad-hoc basis, so Silverpop created and implemented a regular e-mail schedule, sending out at least one message per month to every customer and segment, and following up on that message via e-mail soon after. Follow-up efforts also extend to the company’s other marketing tactics. For example, the company e-mails prospects whose contact information it acquires through the 60 trade shows it attends each year, welcoming them to the list.

“We’re doing it as soon as we get back, so people who gave us business cards still remember us,” Lusk said. MagnetsUSA’s e-mail design has evolved, too. The old e-mail design was haphazard and random, Lusk said. The company didn’t know what placement worked best or even how to place links within the messages. Silverpop changed that, he said.

“Silverpop helped us pick the best number of images to use, where to use text versus images, where to place images, how to construct a subject line and how to organize our thoughts so readers could get the most out of them,” he said.

The e-mail service provider also helped Lusk create personalized offers that show prospects first-hand what a magnet with their name and logo on it might look like.

E-mail management has been improved, too. MagnetsUSA is finally able to separate its prospects from its customers, so it only e-mails people with information they want. If a customer who’s opted out makes a purchase, the company can send a transactional message but feel secure that the same customer won’t get any promotional e-mails—something that has happened in the past.

Today, the company receives a “tremendous sales boost” immediately following its e-mails that lasts for one to five days. Sales go up 50 to 100%, Lusk said. “It’s really like a little skyrocket that’s gone off,” he said.

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