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The key to successful direct email marketing: A case study

One of the most refreshing things about direct email marketing is that there are few eternal truths. If you come up with a good idea and think it worth running with, there’s nothing to stop you giving it a go. Even if it wasn’t successful in the past, there’s no reason not to try it again if circumstances have changed. There are no sacred cows.

Many people will warn you that certain things are risky, but even in those circumstances all you have to do is bear the risk in mind. Many people, including this writer, have warned you about campaigns where you cannot predict the maximum it will cost you.

The Teaser Email

You can imagine my interest when receiving a marketing email for downloading a free product which, if you chose so to do, a certain amount of money would be given to charity. Almost the definition of unqualified risk. What made this promotion more remarkable was that the company, Softmaker, which produces software, is well established. I’ve bought a number of their products.

Their Marketing and Sales Manager, Klaus Richter, agreed to an interview regarding the promotion. In essence, it involved offering a free download of their current Office Suite. Remarkably, for every download Softmaker would contribute 10 cents to charity.

The Interview

I asked him for the logic behind the promotion.  Klaus explained that they had had a number of similar promotions in the past that had been successful, the difference being they had offered a full version of an outdated one. The current promotion was for the current Suite with certain features blocked although all the essentials were there.

My next question was why he had decided on the change.  His reply was the classic direct email marketing one. More customers were likely to download the newer version, and in order to unlock the features, they would have to pay money. On top of that, and probably just as importantly, the returns would show whether the change had been worthwhile.

Customers had to register before downloading the product, and when considering the cost of a campaign to gain subscribers, this one was likely to be cost-effective.

I felt I had to mention the riskiest aspect: the 10 cents donated to a charity for every download. How did he know the costs would be manageable?  Klaus said that a charity program had been a fairly regular feature in their promotions in the past. This one was of limited time and this restricted the possibilities of the offer going viral. Further, the charity was worthwhile and one he wished to support. The charity aspect increased the likelihood of people downloading the software.

Whilst we would not expect Klaus to give away any secrets with regards to direct email marketing, I asked him if he would be repeating the promotion. He said that no conclusions had yet been drawn from the returns, but they’re considering an offer for their simple Android version of the Office Suite.

My thanks to Klaus for being candid and taking the time to answer my questions.

Aaron Bond is a network marketing researcher with a keen interest in email marketing.  His articles aim to provide valuable tips for online business entrepreneurs; helping to create strategies and take action to increase leads and cash flow.

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