August 30, 2007
Case Study

How Email Series + Personalized Landing Page Lifted Webinar's ROI by 2000%

SUMMARY: Webinars are a dime a dozen, so marketers need to rely on other tactics to get registrants who might actually convert into a client. Anecdotal evidence shows that a way to improve response rates is to use personalized landing pages with prefilled forms.

A lead generation software firm tested PURLs along with a seven-part email series that nurtured prospects in the days before the webinar. The effort worked: They brought in 64% more leads than their goal and ended up with 2000% ROI.
“When addressing a campaign, one of my biggest obstacles can be summed up with the question, ‘How do I reach out to prospects that are not even thinking about a company like ours?’ We don’t have the brand recognition that the big companies have. Some of our targets will not even know what our technology does,” says Shawn De Souza, Sr. Manager Online Marketing, Eloqua Corp.

De Souza and his team knew they wanted to conduct a webinar to find prospects for their automated demand generation software and to build the topic around “Marketing Metrics: Learn from the Leaders,” which was based on the book “Marketing Metrics: 50+ Metrics Every Executive Should Master.”

But they also wanted to test a lengthier, seven-part email series that would nurture the leads who registered, including asking about their pain points beforehand. And because they had a house list with prospects’ contact information, they wanted to see how a personalized landing page with prepopulated registration information would perform against a rented list with nothing filled in.

With the webinar topic set, De Souza asked two of the three business-professors-turned-authors, Paul Farris and Phil Pfeiffer, to headline the 60-minute webinar. "They were a good fit because their book has become the bible for any senior-level marketer who wants to start benchmarking and measuring things.”

Next, they turned to the promotion efforts. Here are the nine steps they followed:

-> Step #1. Compile target list

The first thing the team did was put together an email list of executive-level prospects, such as CEOs, VPs and Marketing Directors. They targeted leaders from companies with more than $50 million in annual revenue:
o 23.17% of the names were from their house list
o 73.8% were from a list rental

-> Step #2. First email - invitation

Four weeks before the event, they sent the initial invitation. This email involved a two-column, letter-styled format that was duplicated for most of the campaign (see link to creative samples below). Midway down, they included a “Register” button and listed the key values of the webinar under that.

The right-hand column included brief bios of the authors, as well as the event time and date.

-> Step #3. Subject line test

Also with the first email, they divided the list in half and tested two subject lines. They kept the first subject line shorter and included a strong call to action. For the second, they made the subject line longer, left out the call to action but featured the word “webinar”:
o Test A: Register Today: Marketing Metrics, Learn from the Leaders
o Test B: Learn About Marketing Metrics from the Leaders, a complimentary Webinar

-> Step #4. Personalized landing page

De Souza wanted to personalize the experience as much as possible for the prospects and make it easier for them to sign up for the webinar.

Because their house list contained recipients’ names, titles, companies, phone and email, they were able to use PURL landing pages, which ended with the prospect’s name -- “.com/johndoe” -- and prepopulate the registration page with that information so a recipient needed to only hit the “Submit” button. They also personalized the copy on the page and greeted him or her by name. In addition, a simply designed postcard was mailed to the in-house list at the same time as the first email, including all of the basic event information and directing the recipients’ to their PURLs.

With the names from the rented list, they directed prospects to a single landing page with similar copy. To the right were the usual fields to enter name, title, company, email and business phone.

Recipients from either landing page group who submitted their contact information were encouraged to forward a message to up to three colleagues or friends.

-> Step #5. Second email - confirmation

Those who signed up for the webinar immediately received an automated confirmation email reminding recipients of the event date, speakers and topic. It also included a forward-to-a-friend link.

-> Step #6. Third email - ask a question

Two weeks before the webinar, they emailed what De Souza called a “sales activation letter,” which was intended to act as a reminder about the webinar and ask recipients to respond with their biggest challenges and what they hoped to learn from the event. With each email, they included the recipient’s name and company name.

The subject line again reminded about the date of the webinar: “Thanks for Registering for Our March 14 Event.”

-> Step #7. Fourth, fifth and six emails: reminder

Next, they set up three reminders emails:
o One week before the event
o Two days before the event (same email as one week before)
o The morning of the event

The email that went out the morning of the event included how to log on or access it via telephone (subject line: “Follow These Easy Steps to Join the Event”).

-> Step #8. Seventh email - thank you to attendees

Attendees were sent a message thanking them for taking part in the webinar and offered a chance to view it again.

-> Step #9. Seventh email - follow-up email to no-shows

The next day, they sent an email to registrants who signed up but didn’t attend, letting them know that they could still listen to the webinar at their convenience and included a link to it in their archive.
Without question, persistency paid off. The decision to use seven emails and a personalized landing page approach brought in 64% more leads than their goal, and they exceeded their “sales opportunity” goal by 61%. From that, they converted 14.6% into sales for a 2000% ROI.

Using personalized landing pages and prepopulating the registration fields worked very well: 66% of their actual sales were from recipients who received a PURL. The invitation email drew an overall 2.13% response rate, with 76.4% of registrations coming from the PURL recipients.

“The people getting the personalized landing pages are from our database, so it’s somewhat natural for them to respond better because they are more likely to recognize our brand,” De Souza says. “But we believe that personalization drove registration and attendance.”

Other data:
- In the subject line test for the first invitation email, the longer version mentioning the webinar beat the open rate for the shorter version using "Register Today" by 34.25%.
- 14.5% of the registrants responded to the two-week-prior email and submitted questions or ideas ahead of time.
- Of those who registered, 32% attended the webinar while 15.02% accepted the invitation to listen to the archived webinar after receiving the reminder email the next day.

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from Eloqua’s email and PURL campaign:

Bulldog Solutions Inc. - aided with list management, creative and execution of the campaign:

Eloqua Corp.:

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