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Jul 15, 2004
Case Study

How a 10-Year-Old Newsletter Generates Half a Mill in Sales With Every Issue

SUMMARY: This is a must-read for every b-to-b marketer doing an email newsletter. Issue after issue, Lewis A Weiss' newsletter promoting his company in the metals industry gets an average 85% *unique* open rate. (That's not including people who open it twice.)

Plus, the average issue results in 250-300 phone calls to his in-house sales team, equaling more than half a mill in revenues.

How does he do it? (And without any heavy-handed promotions.)

Find out in our exclusive Case Study:

When Lewis Weiss, President All Metals & Forge, sends out his email newsletter every 60 days, his sales team brace themselves to receive 250-300 inbound calls from the 30,000 prospects and customers receiving the issue.

End result? More than half a million dollars worth of business in just a few days. And even more trickles in over the next two months until the following issue comes out.

If you send out an insanely good promo to your best customers, you might be able to duplicate these results a few times. But, then your list will wear out, and people will stop responding.

Thing is, Weiss has been getting similar results for a decade now -- without changing his content-style, and without any special sales offers.

How can you create a newsletter that prospects will respond to for the long haul? It's an especially critical challenge for business-to-business marketers with limited prospect and customer universes. You don't dare wear your list out.

Here's how Weiss keeps subscribers opening, reading, clicking, and calling...


Weiss founded his newsletter 10 years ago on one basic premise: he considers himself the "Publisher." So he deliberately takes off his presidential hat, his marketing hat, his sales hat.

Instead, just like an actor, he's role playing the part of a high-quality trade magazine publisher. And doing it with enormous passion, strength, and sincerity.

Just as an editor should, he keeps a strict church and state divide between content and advertising. The fact that every issue's sponsor just happens to be All Metals & Forge is almost incidental to him.

Issues contain four key elements:

#1. Intro from passionate publisher (not pontificating president)

Weiss dashes off a quick intro at the top of every issue. It's typeset in bold font to make it appear personal, and to set it aside from the more formal editorial below; and, it's signed with his title "Publisher" instead of President.

He's careful not to talk about his company, but rather about the industry. And his passion shines through completely with liberal use of exclamation points.

Frankly, it's a big relief after the plethora of company president columns we see in stodgy corporate speak.

#2. Red-hot data charts to boost immediate open rate

People love charts. Information presented in chart format just feels more valuable and appealing than prose you have to read.

So Weiss found some regularly updated industry data (a manufacturing index from the Institute of Supply Management) and created a chart from it to send to readers. Plus, data is more exciting if it's brand new, so Weiss built his entire newsletter publishing schedule around the chart date.

He has each issue already completed and standing by waiting for the chart. Then the instant the Institute publishes their new figures, he slams them into the chart and presses "Send" on the broadcast button.

Plus, he notes the exact time of day "Index issued today Thursday at 10:00 AM" in the copy to draw everyone's attention to the timeliness.

#3. Credibility & heft-value to maintain shelf life

This newsletter is a bimonthly (meaning it comes out every other month), and Weiss wanted to make sure it would live on in recipient's inboxes beyond the initial open-click. How do you make an issue perform for 60-days or longer? Heft value.

- The posted version of each average issue prints out to
eight-nine pages. (A slightly shorter summary version
with click links is sent in email.)

- Famous-name metals trade journalist Tom Studza contributes a
commentary column, "cover story," and "focus story" for every
issue. (Weiss worked a deal to get this content, much of
which is repurposed with tweaks, for free from the magazine
Studza works for. How? He's a regular advertiser. Link to
more info on getting pro content below.)

#4. Repeated low-key ads with multiple contacts to boost response

Because the newsletter is so infrequent, Weiss didn't want to put special promo offers in it because respond-by deadlines lose impact when they are 60-days away. Plus, he wanted to keep that high-value editorial feel instead of appearing to be a marketing vehicle.

So, instead he simply placed his contact information in text near the top and bottom of the issue. Plus, he placed his company logo in three places throughout the body of the issue, in between stories.

To maximize responses, he added three text click-lines under the logo:

- To speak to a live representative regarding our company, our
product line, or request for quotes... click here.
- To receive a 2004 catalog click here.
- To send a request for a quote click here.

The top link lands at a "Call me now!" page that instructs the visitor to type in their phone number and when they'd like to be called by a rep. The form then zaps a message to a rep, and voila, they call the customer or prospect precisely when requested.

(Note: We've heard from other marketers, including IBM, that prospects love this because it relieves them from having to fight their way through your voicemail system or play phone tag with a rep.)

The bottom two links land in forms the prospect can fill out for service, but both forms prominently display a Call me Now! offer as well to promote calls.


On average 65% of newsletter recipients open their issue within the first week (and often within minutes) of receiving it. (Note - this 65% is a unique number, if you open twice, it's not counted as two opens.)

Plus, an additional average 25% open the issue sometime after the first week.

Weiss' already healthy Web site traffic jumps by 30-35% in the first week of publication. Live quote requests, which are also promoted on the site, jump by 15%.

The average phone call from a newsletter reader can result in a $2,500-$8,000 sale, or even higher if the call comes in from overseas. (Roughly 10% of calls do now.)

Useful links related to this article:

Creative samples from Weiss' newsletter and landing pages:

MarketingSherpa Blog item on how to get editorial pros to write for your house newsletter:

ICG Link - the broadcast vendor Weiss uses to send his newsletter

MarketingSherpa's Best Practices in Marketing with Email Newsletters (For fee)

All Metals & Forge
See Also:

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