Join thousands of weekly readers and receive practical marketing advice for FREE.
MarketingSherpa's Case Studies, New Research Data, How-tos, Interviews and Articles

Enter your email below to join thousands of marketers and get FREE weekly newsletters with practical Case Studies, research and training, as well as MarketingSherpa updates and promotions.


Please refer to our Privacy Policy and About Us page for contact details.

No thanks, take me to MarketingSherpa

First Name:
Last Name:
Oct 21, 2003
Case Study

Business Marketer Tests Sending Email Campaign with 800-Phone Number in Subject Line

SUMMARY: This Case Study is fun and quick. Hear the story of a company president who was bored of his marketers sending out the same-old, same-old HTML email promos every two weeks. On a whim he decided to test a text-only note asking customers to pick up the phone and call him. The results were both funny and positive. Includes samples.

Twice a month for the past few years, WebCards has
emailed out an HTML promotional offer to its house list of
customers and prospects who've asked to be emailed.

They vary the offer, highlighting a different product or special discount each time. And the creative (see link to sample below) is full of pep and fun graphics. The promotions usually work moderately well, but it's nothing extraordinary.

On September 26th, WebCards' design team were putting the
finishing touches on the latest HTML email promo when something inside President Brian Jenkins snapped.

"I was getting ready to say, 'Send it out', but I felt like it was deja vu. We've been doing it a long time, always a new offer, a new product or service, again and again and again. People get sick of it. People get rid of it."

He wanted to do something completely different….


Jenkins quickly thought to himself, "Who is my best
customer? How do I get my best customers?" The answer was through relationships -- either customer referrals
or co-marketing partnerships -- which generally take place over the phone. Suddenly Jenkins was inspired. "I'm just going to try to get someone to call me. I'm going to reach out via email and get them to phone."

He pushed the HTML guy out of his seat, sat down at the computer, and begin typing rapidly.

To make his letter as personal-feeling as possible, he decided it would be text-only. No graphics, no logo.

He started with the subject line: Please call us 1-800-352-2333. "Why not? Anyone with an 800-number bought it for customer convenience."

The two-paragraph letter began, "Dear WebCards Customers, I know this isn't our typical 'special offer' email, but I felt compelled to reach out and let you know we're a phone call away…" (See link below for complete text.)

He signed the letter by including his personal phone number and email, along with a inspirational quote under which he said, "I don't know who wrote this, it's on my coffee mug and I love to quote it."

He asked his staff to proofread the note quickly for typos and errors, "I don't type as well as I speak." And then he had the message sent to the 40% of WebCards house list who were active customers and not the prospects. "We already really had a relationship."


Initial responses made Jenkins laugh. "I immediately got about nine emails back saying 'I hear you loud and clear.
I know what you mean, I'm so tired of email.' They went into a few paragraphs about how tired of email they were. I had to email them back and say, 'Hey we're using email to complain about email!'"

In addition, he got a handful of email replies from people
saying, "Please call me" which Jenkins was happy to follow up on. (Funny huh? You give them an 800-number and they still reply via email asking for a call.)

But, Jenkins' phone didn't ring, and didn't ring. Finally hours later the first call came in, and a total of four more came in over the next two days.

By the end of two weeks, the campaign resulted in a total of two direct sales, and two new marketing partnerships with organizations that have Jenkins rubbing his hands together with glee. He knows, based on similar deals he's done in the past, that resulting sales could be substantial.

While his regular HTML promotions have re-started again, Jenkins is considering sending out a different text-only note instead of HTML every so often from now on, perhaps every few months.

Plus, he'll continue to make sure that phone number is
prominently placed on every piece of marketing collateral -
online and off - his team produces.

Useful links related to this article:

Samples of WebCards' typical HTML emails and the text-note
Jenkins sent:

See Also:

Post a Comment

Note: Comments are lightly moderated. We post all comments without editing as long as they
(a) relate to the topic at hand,
(b) do not contain offensive content, and
(c) are not overt sales pitches for your company's own products/services.

To help us prevent spam, please type the numbers
(including dashes) you see in the image below.*

Invalid entry - please re-enter

*Please Note: Your comment will not appear immediately --
article comments are approved by a moderator.

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly Case Study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions

Best of the Week:
Marketing case studies and research

Chart Of The Week

B2B Marketing

Consumer Marketing

Email marketing

Inbound Marketing

SherpaStore Alerts


We value your privacy and will not rent or sell your email address. Visit our About Us page for contact details.