4 Email Marketing Campaigns That Really Delivered In 2014

A few ways brands can suc­cess­ful­ly grow rev­enue, cus­tomer loy­al­ty.

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Four well-exe­cut­ed email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns in 2014 tar­get­ed read­ers when they were ready for con­ver­sion and over­whelmed read­ers with val­ue.


From an aban­doned cart cam­paign that aid­ed in 25 per­cent increased email rev­enue to rein­vent­ing email mar­ket­ing to old lists, these email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns hold lessons for all types of busi­ness­es. Get ready to be inspired.

1. Tim Ferriss Amasses 300K Email Addresses Before Sending a Single Email – Then Grows It 60K More

Tim Fer­riss, author of “The 4-Hour Work­week,” angel investor and high­ly praised busi­ness and lifestyle pod­cast­er and blog­ger, nev­er used email mar­ket­ing before this year. Fer­riss put up his book web­site and blog in 2006 and 2007, respec­tive­ly. Each had a stan­dard email cap­ture for vis­i­tors to enter their email address to get more from him. It wasn’t until August of this year that Fer­riss checked to see how many email address­es had accu­mu­lat­ed: 300,000.

He set out to use email as a test­ing envi­ron­ment, and a way to reach fans where oth­er chan­nels were becom­ing crowd­ed – like Facebook’s throt­tling of organ­ic reach for brand pages. Fer­riss sends emails once a week or so, and nev­er takes email best prac­tices on faith.

Up to this point in time, and I might test this, but every blog post that I sent out has been put in its entire­ty in the email. That vio­lates a lot of best prac­tices that I’ve been told I must fol­low, for click-through rate and seek­ing adver­tis­ing and blah, blah, blah,” Fer­riss told Mar­ket­ing­Sh­er­pa.

Before Fer­riss ever sent an email, he invit­ed feed­back from blog read­ers, the very audi­ence who would be receiv­ing emails. He wrote a post titled, “Tim Fer­riss Rethinks Email,” where he laid out the email pro­gram, promis­ing VIP sta­tus, access to live Q&As, free stuff, and no spam or b.s. Opt­ing out is also dead easy, with a promi­nent unsub­scribe.

We almost tempt­ed peo­ple. We prac­ti­cal­ly encour­aged peo­ple to unsub­scribe, to min­i­mize headache for every­one,” Fer­riss said. “It’s not about the size of your audi­ence, the size of your list. It’s about the size of your qual­i­fied, inter­est­ed audi­ence or list.”

The results: 60,000 new sub­scribers since Ferriss’s announce­ment blog posts, and emails that see a 35 per­cent aver­age open rate.

2. Product Hunt Grows Email List Into 2 Million Website Visits a Month

The prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions site, Prod­uct Hunt, curates apps, web­sites and tech gad­gets, where users can vote dis­cov­er­ies up in Red­dit style. Since its Jan­u­ary launch, the site’s traf­fic has grown by 50 per­cent every month. Prod­uct Hunt actu­al­ly start­ed as an email list by the site’s founder Ryan Hoover, who col­lect­ed prod­ucts and sites, and shared them with some friends.

As more peo­ple want­ed in on the habit-form­ing emails, it became clear to Hoover that he was on to some­thing. In an inter­view with First Round Review, Hoover explained that when he decid­ed to build a site, the email list was the most impor­tant asset he had, and would be the spring­board for dri­ving traf­fic. Notable mar­ket­ing tac­tics that make Prod­uct Hunt emails so addic­tive include upvotes of list­ed prod­ucts, pow­er­ful social proof, and deliv­er­ing on the promise of fresh dai­ly con­tent.

The results: In Novem­ber, Vero report­ed that Prod­uct Hunt had 70,000 email sub­scribers, and that emails were respon­si­ble for 2 mil­lion month­ly vis­its to the web­site.

3. Kentucky Derby Turns Mystery List Into Major Asset

The Ken­tucky Der­by is the longest con­sec­u­tive-run sport­ing event in the coun­try. 2015 will mark the 141st run. When Kate Ellis joined the lega­cy horse race as mar­ket­ing ana­lyst last year, she found they had a mys­tery email list. “I was kind of thrown … into man­ag­ing our email mar­ket­ing, and we had all these lists, just left­over lists,” Ellis told Mar­ket­ing­Sh­er­pa. “Not sure where they came from, who the peo­ple were or what they’re inter­est­ed in.”

By divid­ing con­tent into buck­ets and pay­ing close atten­tion to which sub­scribers were inter­est­ed in what fea­tures, she was able to learn more about the peo­ple behind the email address­es, and give them the kind of con­tent they were look­ing for.

For a three-month peri­od run­ning up to the 2014 Ken­tucky Der­by in May, every issue of The Der­by Insid­er week­ly emails fea­tured three types of con­tent: equine-focused con­tent about the hors­es in the event, lifestyle-focused con­tent cov­er­ing the fash­ion and par­ty scene of the Ken­tucky Der­by, and wager­ing-relat­ed con­tent like expert picks for the top horse geared for the bet­ters.

Seg­ment­ing the list and tar­get­ing the con­tent for each, Ellis and her team learned lessons like, “that might be true of this seg­ment, but what we’re learn­ing over here is that there’s anoth­er seg­ment that’s inter­est­ed in some­thing else, or we’re learn­ing that that seg­ment might actu­al­ly be a lot larg­er than we think it is,” Ellis said.

The Kentucky Derby's plan your hat email

The results: An aver­age read rate of 37.35 per­cent, an aver­age click-through rate of 19.44 per­cent, and a reduced opt-out rate of 64 per­cent. On top of the email per­for­mance, wager­ing on the Ken­tucky Der­by grew 1 per­cent, and the web­site saw 19 per­cent more vis­its.

Derek Hard­ing, founder and CEO of Innovyx, says this cam­paign “is reflec­tive of the sit­u­a­tion in which so many mar­keters find them­selves.”

Refer­ring to the sit­u­a­tion that Ellis found her­self in, Hard­ing says he believed it end­ed well because Ellis was “method­i­cal in her approach and strate­gic in her exe­cu­tion. She start­ed by tak­ing stock of what she had; know­ing what you have to work with and mak­ing the best use of those assets is vital – and she set about learn­ing what she didn’t yet know. She also tack­led the basics first.”

Hard­ing adds that while the “con­tent is king” state­ment has been uttered so often that it’s now a cliché, “it’s also very true,” and that Ellis start­ed with the con­tent.

Rather than going straight to a com­plex behav­ioral approach, she start­ed with good con­tent and a cal­en­dar, then added in small amounts of seg­men­ta­tion based on behav­ior as the learn­ing accrued.”

Hard­ing men­tions that the one thing he may have done dif­fer­ent­ly is the cre­ative side. “The cre­ative is nev­er men­tioned in the case, and with good rea­son, it’s not strong. But even that goes to show: you don’t have to do every­thing per­fect­ly in order to be suc­cess­ful.”

4. Office Supply Company Grows Revenue 25% with Abandoned Cart, Time to Reorder and Coupon Campaigns

JAM Paper & Enve­lope had real­ly neglect­ed the email chan­nel since jump­ing into ecom­merce with a web­site in 2007. Until this year, the company’s email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns con­sist­ed of week­ly to month­ly batch-blast emails to every­one on its list. In 2014 the com­pa­ny launched a series of strate­gic cam­paigns to tar­get seg­ments, and moved from man­u­al­ly upload­ing emails to an auto­mat­ic email signup process on its web­site.

Accord­ing to Andrew Jacobs, JAM Paper Direc­tor of Ecom­merce, in an inter­view with Mar­ket­ing­Sh­er­pa, the company’s email pro­gram went from one email a week in 2013 to 40 to 60 emails in any giv­en week today, includ­ing aban­doned cart emails sent out an hour-and-a-half after aban­don­ment, and time to reorder emails that see up to 50 per­cent con­ver­sion rate.

JAM Paper abandoned cart email 1

The results: JAM Paper’s email rev­enue is up 25 per­cent from last year. The aban­doned cart series had an aver­age open rate of 31 per­cent, 12 per­cent click-through rate and 23 per­cent con­ver­sion rate. Since the “time to reorder” email series began, it’s had an aver­age of 45 per­cent con­ver­sion rate.


What email mar­ket­ing cam­paigns do you think real­ly deliv­ered in 2014?

Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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