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Aug 11, 2003
Case Study

Rollerblade's Email Test Results - Rich Media vs HTML Email Blasts

SUMMARY: Creative costs for rich media email campaigns are higher than HTML, plus you have to worry that some recipients won't be able to view the rich media properly.

So, the question is, is it worth taking the risk anyway because rich media results will be so outstanding? See this Case Study to find out what Rollerblade learned.
CHALLENGE

Rollerblade used to send out millions of direct postal
mail pieces to support new product launches.

Economic reality these days has slashed Rollerblade's
budget, so Marketing & PR Manager Nickolas Skally decided to test email instead.

Luckily he already had house list of email names generated from
offers on Rollerblade's Web site and past offline marketing
campaigns. However, no one had ever sent anything to the list.

Skally suspected the names were fairly high quality because they
were volunteered names from Rollerblade fans, and were not
generated by a widely promoted sweeps offer. (Promoted sweeps
are infamous for producing low-quality lists.)

Skally had three goals for his email campaigns:

1. Launch marketing: Get fans excited about new products and
then send them to dealers in their area.

2. Market research: Discover more about Rollerblade fans in
order to hone future advertising creative and media buying
for greater impact.

3. Email research: Test formats and offers in email to see
what worked best for this list.

CAMPAIGN

Luckily for Skally's tight budget, the Rollerblade Web
site already had a dealer locator section, and it had an ongoing
"Win These Skates" contest form which asked for 10 market
research data points including which magazines people read.
(Link to sample form below.)

Although he would have liked to have created special landing
pages to match his email campaigns creative more precisely, these
would do for his low-budget tests.

He also was not able to afford testing different creative
approaches for one campaign. However, he did his best by testing
very different creative for each of three product launch
campaigns over the course of a year.

All three were sent to the same list, and all had the same
selection of landing page links except for specific product
pages. (Link to samples below.)


Email campaign #1: Serious information; sent July 2002.

This HTML email featured lots of high-tech metallic grays and
blacks. The copy was serious-minded, for the in-line skating fan
seeking data. Some sample copy:

Research conducted by Rollerblade, Inc., in conjunction with
the Exercise Science Department at the University of
Massachusetts, has revealed that in-line skating offers a
muscular workout comparable to running or cycling.

Study Highlights
Why Run When You Can Roll? In-line skating can provide the
same fitness benefits as running.

Not So Shocking News In-line skating produces less than
half the impact shock to joints that running does.

Target Zones In-line skating has higher muscular activity
levels for some muscles of the hips, thighs and shins than
running or cycling.

Graphics included a hero shot of Rollerblade's new Lightning 05
Model together with a big, bold "Win These Skates" link. Other
links included dealer locator.


Email campaign #2: Holiday gift offer, sent late Oct 2002.


This time, the focus was a children's skate. The email
maintained much of the original lay-out as the first, but used
warmer colors, blues, oranges, and reds. Copy began:

The holiday gift that keeps on giving!

Kids' skates that grow with the push of a button. Like your
kid's feet, these can grow quickly too -- its push-button
extendibility accommodates four full sizes. It also features a
specially-padded boot to ensure maximum comfort for young
feet.

Three photo insets highlighted unusual features of the skate,
including the fact that it actually grows with a child's foot.
This time, the hero shot link read: "Click here to win these
skates."

Other links, to dealers, etc. remained the same.


Email campaign #3: Rich media excitement, sent May 2003.

Skally decided to test rich media including audio music and Flash
for this campaign touting the launch of Rollerblade's Aero 9
skate. Primary colors were red and metallic grey.

As music played, intro copy quickly appeared bit by bit on the
screen:

Introducing
the all-new
Rollerblade Aero 9
Innovation
Performance
Extreme comfort

Then after the intro ran its course, a line drawing of the skate
appeared with 4 numbered pulsing red circles. As viewers scrolled
over these pulses, various areas of the skate were highlighted in
green and text ran down the right side explaining the
technologies.

Skally tested this campaign at a variety of connection speeds
prior to launch to see how it would look. He admits at 26k it
was a bit slow, but hoped that because the list was a house list
of true fans, they would not mind.

Plus, he had a link added to the final creative that viewers
could click if they could not see the presentation.

Again, this campaign also featured the standard links to win
skates, find dealers, etc.



RESULTS

Although the third campaign, the rich media effort, got the lowest open rate at 30%, it achieved by far the highest
click through rate at 63%. Skally notes that this number is
"conservative" because it does not include click throughs from
emails forwarded to friends.

Campaign #1 "Serious info" 47% open, 36.6% of opens clicked
Campaign #2 "Holiday gifts" 32% open, 33.2% of opens clicked
Campaign #3 rich media 30% open, 63% of opens clicked

Please note: These numbers are a bit deceiving because while
they do not include data from forwarded emails (and fans are
famous for forwarding stuff to other fans) they do double-count
if one person clicked twice. There was no unique click count by
user.

The most popular link was always the contest. The link to find a
dealer was always the second-most popular link.

The least popular link was always whatever was in the lowest
right hand corner.

Rollerblade intends to continue sending Flash to house fan lists.
Skally is also planning a rebate campaign to see if he can track
related sales at the dealer-level. Someday he hopes to
match his landing pages to his email creative.

Useful links related to this article:

Samples of the three emails and contest landing page:
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/rb/ad.html


Annodyne Interactive, the agency Rollerblade used to create
these email campaigns: http://www.annodyne.com

Rollerblade home page http://www.rollerblade.com
See Also:

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