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Jan 07, 2009
Case Study

Get 1,400% ROI: 7 Steps to Integrate Unusual Theme, Gifts, Personalized Emails

SUMMARY: Personalizing your marketing messages can create a direct connection between prospects and your company.

See how a marketer encouraged prospects to arrange 15-minute phone briefings with a top company executive who pitched the company’s tools as ways to make the most of 2009 budgets. The integrated direct mail and email campaign used a creative theme, attention-getting gifts, and personalized email messages to deliver a 1,400% ROI.

The end of 2008 was approaching. Robin Simkins, EVP Client Services, AdGooroo, envisioned a campaign to capitalize on her team’s lead-generation efforts during the year.

Their goal was to connect with previously engaged prospects and existing customers and encourage them to set aside part of their 2009 budget for AdGooroo’s applications for search advertising management. “We wanted to make sure our products were included in their search marketing spend,” says Simkins.

Then, the economy took a dive right into a recession. The team needed to retool their message.

Their new goal: Address prospects’ concerns about their financial situations while positioning the company’s products as tools to help manage marketing resources in uncertain times.


Simkins and her team developed an integrated direct mail and email campaign that invited each prospect and customer to schedule a 15-minute phone briefing with one of the company’s top sales, client services or management executives.

The campaign theme acknowledged the ongoing economic turmoil, as well as distractions, such as the presidential campaign and The World Series, by promoting the idea of “marketing Zen.” Campaign’s creative elements and an unusual gift emphasized the notion that the company’s tools could help clients streamline their campaigns.

The seven steps they took to create and launch the campaign:

Step #1. Choose client-focused campaign theme

In Q3, the team brainstormed and settled on a campaign theme that would encourage prospects to set up telephone briefings. It emphasized the value of the company’s search management tools. The focus of the campaign became the trademarked phrase: “I’m a tool. Use me.”

They combined the notion of tools with the concept of ‘marketing Zen’ in times of uncertainty. They identified gifts for the direct-mail portion of the campaign that met that theme, including:
o Bonsai tree and trimming shears
o Copy of company president Richard Stokes’ book, ‘Mastering Search Advertising’

Step #2. Mail bonsai trees to top prospects

The first direct mail piece was a package containing:
- Live bonsai tree
- Postcard with text that reiterated the Zen theme by positioning the company’s products as tools to help make decisions about search spending

The front image on the postcard featured mock newspaper headlines that reiterated the notion of external distractions and turmoil in early Q4:
o $700 Billion Question (Wall Street bailout package)
o Major Leaguers Set Sights on Series
o Road to November: Election Nears

Simkins and her team worked with the sales staff to identify 30 C-level executives in the following categories:
o Top prospects who had been in discussion with the sales staff but had not signed contracts
o Clients who were good candidates for an upgrade

Step #3. Send first email promotion

Ten days after shipping the packages, the team followed up with an email message. The recipient list was expanded to include names of lower-level marketing professionals that had opted-in to receive previous marketing materials. (See creative samples link for a copy of the email)

- The email subject line read: “AdGooroo - Delivering enlightenment for you and your clients”.

- The message featured an image of the bonsai tree and a header that repeated the mock newspaper headlines from the postcard.

- The body copy reiterated the Zen theme. Key phrases included:
o “We thought you may need a little Zen”
o “Our competitive analysis tools deliver enlightenment to you and your clients…”

- The call-to-action was a link inviting prospects to schedule a 15-minute briefing with Tom O’Grady, EVP of Sales and Operations.

Rather than taking prospects to a landing page, the link opened a new email message in the prospect’s Outlook program addressed to O’Grady. The subject line and body of the message were pre-filled, with a space for the prospect to enter their direct phone number. “We wanted to create direct connection between two people,” Simkins says.

Step #4. Send second email highlighting services

Two weeks after the first email invitation, the team emailed a second promotion to the list.

- The team tested three subject lines for the second email message:
o Use AdGooroo, the right tool for marketers
o AdGooroo in 2009: Maintain your Marketing Zen
o Give Digital Marketing more attention in 2009

- The message featured a large header of the campaign tagline: “I’m a tool. Use me.” Other graphics included an image of the bonsai tree and trimming shears.

- Body copy featured language that reflected a tree-trimming theme, noting that the company’s tools can help shape campaign planning.

- The call-to-action highlighted the availability of an experienced client services team to help customers make the most of the company’s applications.

It, too, linked directly to a pre-filled outlook email message. But this time, the message was addressed to Simkins.

Step #5. Send follow-up direct mail package

Three weeks after shipping the bonsai trees, the team sent a second package to the same list. This package contained:
o Bonsai trimming shears
o Book about bonsai care
o Postcard that reiterated the theme of tools to help shape campaign decisions.

Step #6. Send final direct mail package

Three weeks after shipping the second package (the long break was necessary because of the Thanksgiving holiday), the team sent the original bonsai recipients a final gift package that contained:
o Branded T-shirt with the phrase “I’m a tool” on the front and “Use me” on the back
o Copy of Stokes’ book
o Postcard that reiterated the product’s value as a tool to make informed decisions about search marketing

Step #7. Send final email

A final email was sent to the list the same week as the final package.

- The subject line: “See what your competitors are doing in search.”

- The header image repeated the graphic used on the final postcard, with the tag line, “I’m a tool, use me.”

- Rather than sending the emails from AdGooroo, the team sent these emails from one of three company executives:
o Robin Simkins, EVP Client Services
o Tom O’Grady, EVP Sales and Operations
o Richard Stokes, President

- The call-to-action invited prospects to email questions about AdGooroo’s products to the executive who had sent the message.

As with the other emails, the link opened a new Outlook message with the recipient line and subject line pre-filled. The subject line read, “Tell me more about AdGooroo Search Marketing Tools.”


“My boss is thrilled beyond thrilled with the results,” says Simkins. The campaign delivered a 1,430% ROI based on deals closed after the phone briefings and the campaign triggering prospects in the pipeline to contact sales reps to complete a contract.

Up to six more deals were expected to close, Simkins says, which will send the ROI even higher.

Some prospects chose to use the automated Outlook response contained in the promotional emails; some chose to contact account representatives with whom they’d been engaged in previous discussions. Others responded to offline packages (some by sending thank-you notes by postal mail).

Because of the different replies, Simkins hasn’t picked a metric to use to calculate response rate. But she is confident the personalized approach is a tactic worth adopting for future email campaigns. “People have a fear of spam, and the built-in reply mechanism takes down some of those concerns.”

An error setting up the tracking on the email response system did not allow them to track open rates for the first email. But for the second one, the team got the following results per subject line:
o Use AdGooroo, the right tool for marketers – 13.3% open rate
o AdGooroo in 2009: Maintain your Marketing Zen – 12% open rate
o Give Digital Marketing more attention in 2009 – 11% open rate

The final email message achieved the highest open rates. The results by sender’s name:
o From Robin Simkins = 18.4%
o From Richard Stokes = 16.3%
o From Tom O’Grady = 14.9%

“My boss said, ‘You’ve won the right to send all our email in the future’”.

Useful links related to this article:

Creative Samples from AdGooroo’s marketing Zen campaign:

Vis-à-vis Creative Concepts helped develop the campaign


See Also:

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