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Jun 12, 2001
Case Study

HTML vs Rich Media Test Results from B-to-B Broadcast Email Campaign

SUMMARY: This April, RioLabs' Marketing Manager Katie Connaughty needed to create a sales lead generation campaign that would really make a big "bang" in the marketplace ... and quickly! In this Case Study she reveals the response rates she got from HTML vs. rich media email campaigns, as well as listing the three things she'd change the next time she rolls out a campaign like this. This Case Study includes a link to a live sample of the Rich Media creative she used, plus links to three other rich media-related Case Studies -- so, definitely check it out!

RioLabs is a two-year old ecommerce transaction software company. Marketing Manager Katie Connaughty explains in layman's terms, "You know those widgets you always hear about? Our software helps people like widget manufacturers and buyers transact online."

In March, as the Company neared the end of its first fiscal 2001 quarter, Connaughty's CEO asked her to find ways to "jumpstart the lead pipeline and sales cycle." Previously the company had primarily gathered sales leads by attending trade shows and industry events; but Connaughty says, "You can't reach everyone who is potentially a client at trade shows."

She decided against traditional direct mail because of the time involved to print packages, mail them and wait for responses. Connaughty also decided against a text-based email campaign because the Company had had low response rates from one they tested in 2000. Instead, she wanted to create an email campaign that would really make a big "bang" in the marketplace ... and quickly to boot.


Connaughty decided to test an email marketing campaign featuring creative that would really stand out in the recipient's in-box. Working with email marketing vendor Dynamics Direct, she created a bold campaign to test an HTML broadcast email vs. a rich media broadcast email.

Creative was "based on our marketplace's pain." Both campaigns used the exact same, personalized subject line, "Katie, achieve your B-to-B e-commerce goals now" and both used similar selections from opt-in lists rented from Cahners Business Lists.

However, rich media click throughs first saw a static HTML page inviting them to click the "Play" button to view a message from Tony Knight, VP Business Development at RioLabs. Next they saw a quick Flash presentation with a compelling voiceover, which was also personalized with the recipient's name. (See below for the actual script and a link to a sample of the rich media campaign.)

After this, recipients' screens offered them three response options:

1. Contact Me -- this button lead to a brief form that visitors could fill out to get more information from a RioLabs rep. Visitors were only asked for name, company, preferred contact method (email vs. phone call) and were given the option of adding a note about their particular ecommerce needs.

2. Tell Me More -- this button lead directly to a Web page where they could download an 11-page PDF white paper about B-to-B transaction integration. Following best practices in white paper distribution, RioLabs did not force visitors to fill out a form prior to receiving the white paper.

3. Forward -- this button allowed people to forward the email message to others, thus encouraging some viral activity.

The HTML version of this campaign featured a static version of this same campaign with similar graphics and identical response options.

Instead of generating a form letter in response to the "Contact Me" responses, Connaughty coordinated closely with the sales department to make sure every single contact received a truly personalized answer that spoke to their needs. She says, "In a lot of cases they would recognize a company name and they knew the type of projects that company had, so they could get them related info. Then I got the sales team the correct support materials and site links for each response." Even with this extra work, the team pulled together to make sure responses went out within 24 hours.


Because both the HTML and rich media campaigns used the same lists and subject lines, their open rates were about the same -- averaging about 24%. However once opened, the rich media creative came into its own! 16% of recipients who opened the rich media email then continued on to click through to the response button of their choice. 10% of recipients who opened the HTML emails then continued on to click again.

Although HTML button click throughs were not tracked, Connaughty provided the following numbers for button clicks for rich media openers:

% of openers who then clicked on Contact Me = 3%
% of openers who then clicked on Tell Me More = 10%
% of openers who then clicked on Forward = 1%

(It's worth noting, almost 50% of the people who received these forwards then passed the message on again!)

In addition to providing her sales team with a "really great" set of new sales leads, Connaughty says she also learned several valuable lessons about email marketing. Here are the three changes she plans to make the next time she rolls out a campaign:

1. Lists: Connaughty plans to expand her list buy to include more tests (such as Thomas Register) and also to try to narrow down title and job function selections further to produce even more qualified leads.

2. Offer: While Connaughty feels her initial offer was a good one to start with, she's planning on testing alternatives and "stronger" offers in the future.

3. PDF White Paper: Connaughty also plans to change her white paper format to HTML so it can be viewed on-screen without downloading. She says, "You never know how someone's coming to your site. They might be downloading on a laptop with a horrible dial-up connection!"

VOICEOVER SCRIPT: Here's the script for the Rich Media version voice-over. Anywhere you see the word "name" indicates the voice actually said the recipient's first name. To hear the script in action, click on our link to a sample of this campaign below.:

( voices asking questions one on top of another)
- Not yet fully integrated?
- Concerned about budget constraints?
- Spending too much time learning new technologies?
- Difficulty integrating new trade partners?
- Which marketplaces should you join?
- Public?
- Private?
- Can you support them all?

(voices stop)
Name, stop losing sleep.

Capitalize on the potential of B2B e-commerce now!

Our breakthrough product, RioTrade, integrates into your existing enterprise systems, allowing you to perform e-commerce transactions in days -at a fraction of the time and cost of other approaches.

Name, achieve your ROI goals faster.

Click “Contact Me” and we’ll show you how.

It's time to get some rest.

Sample of the rich media campaign -- including introductory email and the first rich media click through:

RioLabs --

Dynamics Direct --

Also recommended -- if you are interested in learning a lot more about technologies and vendors behind rich media, check out this educational Web site at

MORE CASE STUDIES: Here are two of the most useful Case Studies MarketingSherpa's done on different types of rich media campaigns:

1. Ford Explorer Rich Media Ad Gets Half a Million Clicks by Dominating Yahoo!'s Home Page for 24 Hours

2. IBM's Rich Media Campaign Results Are "About Six Times Better than Traditional Direct Mail"
See Also:

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