March 18, 2008
How To

How a Simple Text-Only Email Converted Dead Leads Into 36% More Customers

SUMMARY: Every marketer wishes they had a better conversion rate with prospects, but a few good leads always end up in a dead file.

See how a marketing team targeted their dead lead file with a simple text-only email campaign that signed up 36% more customers.
Good leads will always slip through the cracks and end up in your dead file. But those leads may not be as worthless as you think. It may take just the right promotion and incentive to revive them and lift your ROI.

Dr. Marvin Lagstein, Orthodontist and Author of ‘Brace Yourself for Success,’ and his marketing team found themselves with a pile of dead leads as they neared the end of 2007. The leads were gathered through a combination of radio, pay-per-click and print advertising. At one time, the prospects had expressed interest in a special six-month treatment, but then never signed up for the program.

These leads had already received Lagstein’s book, a promotional letter, follow-up telephone call and emails about the treatment. Some had been receiving an email every two weeks for as long as 12 months.

“The idea was to write a fun letter -- a little weird, a little crazy -- showing my personality and let’s give them a great offer for December only,” says Lagstein.

The text-only email was sent to those dead leads in December. It offered a 28.5% discount on the costly procedure if patients signed up within 20 days.

Here are the steps Lagstein and his team followed to convert the dead leads:

-> Step #1. Collect leads

Lagstein’s lead-generation process began much earlier in the year with prospects calling to request his free book. Their personal information was collected over the telephone.

Prospects were urged to come in for a free consultation through:
o Insert in the book’s packaging
o Follow-up call
o Email

“The free book is a vehicle to get people to walk into my door,” says Lagstein. “If you walk in the door and you have the right mouth and money in your pocket,” 70% to 90% of those people sign up.

Of course, not everyone who received a copy of the book came in the consultation. They dropped off in three ways:
o Received the book but never made an appointment
o Made an appointment but never showed up (between 30% and 50% of appointment setters are no-shows)
o Kept the appointment but decided they weren’t interested

These dead leads continued to receive an email from Lagstein every two weeks. It served to keep the treatment in prospects’ minds, even if they never came in for a consultation. By December, the email addresses had been piling up. Lagstein and his team really didn’t want to see all of those leads go to waste.

-> Step #2. Create email targeting dead leads

The idea for a holiday-season email came mostly on a whim from Lagstein’s team. “They said, ‘What do you have to lose? These are people that you’re never going to see anyway.’ So, we gave it a shot,” Lagstein says.

Here’s what they focused on:

- Copy
Lagstein, who is Jewish, offered a Christmas gift in an email. Here’s part of the email: “I've decided the world needs a Jewish Santa Claus. So, I've personally dubbed myself Santa Claustein. And as my first order of business for the Christmas season, I’m going to give you a very special gift!”

“I was really almost uncomfortable with the letter because it ... wasn’t a professional letter like I’m used to writing. It was a fun, silly letter. It didn’t resonate well with me, but I trust [his team] so we went with it.”

- Incentive
The 28.5% discount was a strong incentive and helped drive response. The “gift” translated into a $2,000 savings for each patient -- not exactly a drop in the bucket.

- Subject line
Next, they wrote a simple subject line that was nondenominational:
[First Name] Special Holiday Gift For You

- Timing
The email was sent during the first week of December -- around the beginning of Hanukkah and when most consumers are thinking about Christmas. By linking the two most popular holidays of the season, it connected well with readers. In fact, the email ended up generating the strongest response from readers all year.

- Keep email simple
The email was text-only -- with no coding, graphics or hyperlinks. The only call to action was a telephone number at the end of the email.

- Sense of urgency
The email explained that there were 8 days of Hanukkah and 12 days of Christmas, which gave recipients 20 days to respond to the offer and begin treatment.

Since the email was text-only, Lagstein and his team couldn’t track open rates, but 1.25% of the recipients called for more information, and of those, 26.7% became patients, lifting Lagstein’s total patients for the treatment 36.3% in December.

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from the promotion:

Gravitational Marketing - helped with campaign:

Dr. Marvin Lagstein’s website:

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