May 20, 2014
Case Study

Email Marketing: Educating new subscribers drives 33% of total email revenue in welcome campaign

SUMMARY: Email can be an invaluable resource for educating consumers not only on a product, but on your brand and community. Gaming accessories company KontrolFreek designed an automated welcome campaign to sell products and inform consumers with a series of three emails focused on managing expectations, addressing common pain points and joining the online community.

Read on to learn how the company drove 33% of total email revenue using this welcome series alone.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content


The team at KontrolFreek, a video gaming accessories manufacturer and direct e-retailer, is small according to Matt Konigsmark, Vice President of Marketing, KontrolFreek.

"We're 10 people or so. We're really a sales and marketing company and so the marketing team is probably four people," he said.

The primary product for KontrolFreek is very niche, he said — thumb stick extenders for Xbox and PlayStation controllers.

"We have a very loyal and passionate audience," he added, saying the five-year-old Atlanta-based company primarily sells to men aged 13 to 34.

After changing the company's email service provider, KontrolFreek was offered new automation options and had to decide how to implement them into its current program. The team wanted to incentivize new prospects and drive sales while building up the email program.

Konigsmark said the challenge the team was facing was "on any given day, probably 60% to 70% of our traffic is new visitors. The objective was: how do we take all those new visitors and hook them in a way that we can bring them into the tent and market to them down the line and educate them?"


The KontrolFreek team developed a three-part triggered welcome series that targeted new website visitors. The program was one of the first automated campaigns for the team, and was developed for three reasons:
  • Increase email list

  • Educate new customers

  • Provide an incentive to purchase

KontrolFreek wanted to educate and nurture new subscribers in this campaign, and although selling was a priority, the welcome campaign was developed as a way to bring people into "FreekNation," the company’s fan base.

Step #1. Integrate email automation

Konigsmark comes from a B2B environment, "so the idea of marketing automation and group campaigns and nurturing campaigns is very familiar to me," Konigsmark said.

To begin this campaign, he looked at what other e-commerce retailers were doing with automation and found inspiration.

"The idea of a welcome series is very appealing and very familiar. It just made a lot of sense to me. I felt like in doing the research of all the different automations, we probably get the most bang for our buck initially out of a welcome series," he said.

However, KontrolFreek's current email platform didn't allow for automation, and the team needed to move on to a new platform in order to implement technology capable of launching an automated welcome series.

"That was one of the things we specifically looked for when we were looking for an email vendor … somebody that could provide triggered email, that had those capabilities and specifically could allow for a welcome series," he said.

Automation was important to KontrolFreek's email program for a few reasons, he said:
  • To put the brand on par with other e-commerce sites in the gaming sphere

  • To set up an automatic email address capture pop-up for website visitors

  • To set up a drip campaign

Adding the pop-up window with an email subscription offer of 10% off a first purchase drove 48% of list growth, and was a new addition to meet the team's goal of adding subscribers.

The way the KontrolFreek campaign is set up is with a three email series, he said. The series goes progressively into deeper information about the KontrolFreek brand and its products, as well as the community aspects of remaining engaged with the brands.

Step #2. Design a customer-centric campaign

If a customer filled in their information in the email capture pop-up, they went straight into the KontrolFreek email program, the first step of which is the three-part welcome series.

This was the first triggered email program KontrolFreek went with, aside from a small cart abandonment campaign.

"We felt we had three distinct and separate messages we could send. It was kind of a natural opening and a natural conclusion," Konigsmark said.

Konigsmark and his team wanted the welcome emails to not only have information about products and the email program, but gradually bring the customer into the KontrolFreek community. Because of the desire to fully indoctrinate subscribers, they receive all three and aren't opted out from the next two if they engage with the first.

"[The emails] progressively go into deeper information about what KontrolFreek is and how our products work and the science behind our products, who we are, and then into the community aspect," Konigsmark said.

First email

The first email is sent out immediately and includes an offer for "10% off your next purchase," with a coupon code, which is promised in the triggered email capture.

The email states, "Welcome to FreekNation!" and after the offer, it tells the new subscriber what they can expect to receive by subscribing:
Thanks for signing up. You've just taken the first step towards Gaming greatness! All of our performance gaming gear is designed to enhance your gaming experience and help you be a better player. As a member of FreekNation you'll be privy to everything KontrolFreek has to offer.

It then lists what can be expected, including: special offers and sales, exclusive events, exciting contests and giveaways and new product updates.

The email ends by displaying creative and links to four of KontrolFreek's best-selling products, as well as links to social media.

Second email

Two days later, the second email goes out, which includes the headline "About KontrolFreek" and proceeds to introduce the brand and its products to the email subscriber. It also reiterates the 10% off offer.

This email is "really about the product benefits and the science. If you're new to our products, there's a real science behind our stuff that is compelling, and we love to get that message out," Konigsmark said.

This email does what the headline promises and tells the subscriber about KontrolFreek and its goals as a brand, specifically that "we are a company made up of gamers, just like you. We are fueled by our desire to win, the constant need to improve and plenty of caffeine. Our full line of quality controller accessories has been engineered with those desires in mind."

The email also makes sure to address common customer pain points by highlighting the gaming systems KontrolFreek accessories are designed to fit, as well as the fact that they are "100% tournament legal and proudly made in the USA."

The email closes with a video where subscribers are able to "View the science behind KontrolFreek."

Third email

"Word of mouth is very important for us. We do a lot of business based on word of mouth and social sharing," Konigsmark said describing the objective of the third email.

Five days after signing up, the third email is sent. The headline reads "Better Gaming or Your Money Back," and it describes the company’s policy on returning gaming gear with no questions asked within 30 days.

Its main goal, however, is to encourage the new subscriber to interact as part of the "FreekNation" community online by following the brand on Twitter or Facebook.

Konigsmark said the team wants subscribers to "join the conversation" in other KontrolFreek channels, "knowing that we have this young, male audience, they're not [into] heavy sales. There is definitely the offer in there, but we try not to really beat people over the head with buy, buy, buy."

The email reiterates the 10% off coupon code, reminding them "Don’t forget!" but then offers a video focused on answering frequently asked questions. It then offers "What our fans are saying" and displays four fan videos.

Valuable content in the form of the "FPS Freek Comparison Guide," "Controller Compatibility Guide" and "Our Forums" are linked to last in this email.

The marketing team wanted to start building brand loyalty early, and the objective of this series was not solely to get the one welcome email sale out of a customer — it's to bring people into the community and "join the club, look at the science," he said.

Responsive design testing

Since this was the initial triggered campaign for KontrolFreek, the team decided against heavy testing.

However, since 50% of KontolFreek site traffic is mobile, the team wanted to test responsive versus non-responsive in the welcome series emails.

While initially, "interestingly, there was no compelling difference," he said, responsive design emails have ultimately provided an 11% lift in revenue per user over the non-responsive design, covering a test group of 100,000 emails.

Step #3. Separate social media

KontrolFreek is still in the process of growing its email list, beginning with the pop-up email capture on the main site, and it currently runs a number of list growing efforts.

The biggest driver of list growth is social promotions on Facebook. For instance, KontrolFreek's most recent was in celebration of the company's fifth birthday to win five (later a sixth was added) PlayStation 4 console bundles.

"Primarily, the biggest driver is social promotion using a Facebook tool. It allows visitors to come and enter the sweepstakes for really compelling prizes. In return, they're sharing their information with us so we can market to them," Konigsmark said.

Another method the team has utilized is to take a compelling prize and partner with outside content creators. Those partners can promote the contests and prizes to their own large audience that “we know is demographically right for us,” he said.

For example, in one contest, KontrolFreek is partnered with five YouTube content creators who have popular video gaming channels.

"One of the guys has 1.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel talking about 'Call of Duty.' We know that if he is driving people over to our contest that they're perfect for us. If we can get them in, if we can grab their email address and subscribe them to our different social channels, we can monetize them down the road," he said.

Once those qualified people are driven into the contest and begin subscribing to the email list in order to enter the contest, they are then automatically informed about future contests, because KontrolFreek is "sharing it back with them because it's engagement and community building," he said.


“That's it in a nutshell. What was interesting to us is that it had remarkable results,” Konigsmark said about the welcome campaign.
KontrolFreek was able to double its opt-in email list via all list building activities, growing 112% year over year, and 48% of the list was driven by adding the pop-up email subscription offer alone.

Along with growing the email list, the results from the welcome campaign were:
  • A 48% total list growth, acquiring 86,000 subscribers

  • A total of 33% email revenue

  • A total of 4.4% of company revenue

  • A 6.5% purchase percentage

  • The promo code was used 6,860 times

The welcome series had an overall open rate of 30%, and an overall clickthrough rate of 9.2%. Also, the on-site conversion rate for those coming from clicking through the email was 24%.

First email

  • 36% open rate

  • 14% clickthrough rate

Second email

  • 28% open rate

  • 7% clickthrough rate

Third email

  • 25% open rate

  • 6% clickthrough rate

On the 6.5% purchase percentage, Konigsmark remarked that it was "definitely high," and that number is more than twice what the team normally sees from a typical product email.

Currently, the goal is to drive frequency in return visits, so the team is looking at implementing higher touch campaigns like birthday, anniversary and win-back campaigns.

"It's education and it's list building and it's revenue growth. I think that it's been successful, from our point of view, to the point that we are now looking at what other triggered email programs we can put in place and have three or four in process right now," he said.

Creative Samples

  1. First welcome email

  2. Second welcome email

  3. Third welcome email



Related Resources

Email Marketing 2013: The top 10 MarketingSherpa articles for your New Year's marketing resolutions

Email Marketing: Online jewelry retailer grows total revenue by 51% with re-permission campaign

Email Deliverability: Publisher moves beyond double opt-in to avoid 1,000 hard bounces per day

Email Marketing: BustedTees' personalized send times increase email revenue 8%

Email Marketing: 7% repurchase rate for brick-and-mortar store welcome email

Email Marketing: Reactivation campaign for performing arts center sees 738% ROI

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