BY Heidi Anderson | December 11, 2003
Coupons are common in the offline world, at least here in the United States. They’re so popular, a journalism professor once told me the majority of daily newspapers sell the most papers on Wednesday, primarily because of the special coupons in that day’s paper.
But online, coupons aren’t as widespread. I began to wonder: Can a company entice customers to respond to e-mail coupons?
It can if the company is Orange Glo International. The makers of OxiClean have been experimenting with e-mail marketing campaigns focused around coupons, and the results are beginning to trickle in.
Orange Glo is a small, Colorado-based company that manufactures and distributes natural cleaning products. This relatively new business was using TV commercials and infomercials to get the word out about its alternative cleaners. Orange Glo does some sales business via its Web site, but the bulk is through retail stores such as Wal-Mart.
Orange Glo’s challenge was to not only educate users about its products but also drive them to the retail channels to make a purchase. For instance, several informational campaigns have featured cleaning celebrity Billy Mays, who sends out notices about new offerings. Each message is clean, simple, and branded — “I’m excited to tell you about our newest product, OxiClean Active Stain Remover,” says Billy — and each has one call to action. A “click here to buy now” link takes users to the company Web site.
Although these messages educated recipients, the company also wanted to drive users to offline stores. Offering coupons via e-mail messages was one way to do that.
Orange Glo worked with Customer Paradigm to create a coupon offer. The offer went out just before Thanksgiving to a house list of tens of thousands.
Let’s take a look at several of the campaign’s elements:
Graphics. Billy Mays’ popularity is used to brand the Orange Glo messages. As a consumer, I applaud this notion. I participate in a number of online survey panels. My favorite is the Lightspeed panel, and it’s all because of Lauren. For all I know, she’s a fictional character, but I’m happy to see her. I feel like my communications are being sent to someone, not off into the netherworld of the Internet. Billy Mays is well represented in the Orange Glo message, right down to his signature and e-mail address.
Text. The text draws the reader in and matches the tone of the overall campaign. Phrases such as “if you’re like me” and “cranberries and other holiday foods often are a big source of stains” get the point across.
Offer. The offer, four different $1 coupons, is nothing to sneeze at. It’s mentioned high in the communication and listed in a postscript after Billy’s sign-off. Though marketers tend to agree e-mail postscripts aren’t nearly as important as those in direct mail pieces, Customer Paradigm’s Jeff Finkelstein notes it generates a significant number of click-throughs.
Miscellaneous. The mailing includes a phone number for those who aren’t comfortable asking for the coupons online or for those who don’t have printers attached to their PCs. Plus, it includes various list management tools, such as an unsubscribe link and a method for subscribing if the e-mail message was forwarded from a friend.
Clicking on the coupon link within the message transports recipients to the coupon signup form. The form has pre-populated fields, a great tactic in general. The less work the user has to do, the better.
The form includes three optional quick-pick questions, such as “Do you have pets in household?” The questions allow Orange Glo to gather customer information to be used for future products or in future campaigns.
The recipient chooses the coupons he would like; the boxes are prechecked for each product: Kaboom Shower Tub & Tile Cleaner, OxiClean Active Stain Remover, OxiClean Multi-Purpose Stain Remover, and Orange Glo Wood Cleaner & Polish.
The coupons then print to the user’s printer. (Remember, if the user doesn’t have a printer, she can call to have the coupons shipped to her.) Each coupon includes a bar code that allows the company to track from whom and when the coupon was redeemed. And Orange Glo followed up the offer with thank-you messages for those who signed up for the coupons.
The message was opened by 11.2 percent of recipients and garnered a 1.7 percent overall CTR. The open rate and CTR are a bit low compared to past Orange Glo campaigns, which are usually in the 13-20 percent range. However, this campaign went out just before a major holiday, when it’s likely recipients weren’t checking e-mail as frequently as usual.
16 percent of those who opened the message clicked through to the form, which is higher than past Orange Glo campaigns. Past campaigns average between a 10 and 12.5 percent CTR on opens.
Of those who visited the Web site and landed on the form, 68.5 percent completed it. Most recipients opted to print all four coupons, for a total of approximately 7,600 coupons.
We won’t know the coupon redemption rate until about eight weeks after the campaign, but here are a couple follow-up thoughts. Orange Glo did a comparison check against coupons in newspapers in an earlier campaign, and that past campaign led to double the redemption rate of the newspaper coupons.
Also, Orange Glo knows placing coupons in newspapers works, but placing them in newspapers is generally much more expensive than placing them in e-mail. Coupon inserts into newspapers typically cost about $45 to $55 CPM, plus printing. Though I don’t have the exact cost of this e-mail marketing campaign, it’s a sure bet the numbers are nowhere near as high.
Please have someone contact me now: