Jeanne S. Jennings

How a 6 Email Series Increased Unique Key Clickthrough Reach by Nearly 400% Over a Single Email

March 18th, 2010

Why create a series of six related email messages when one will do? To increase your response and ROI, that’s why!

This is just one topic we cover in the MarketingSherpa Email Essentials 2010 Workshop Training, taking place in 10 locations around the United States; the next one is March 25th in New York City.

With average open rates in the 20% range and average clickthrough rates in the single digits, only a fraction of your list is likely to open, click on or convert from a single email message. If you send a series of messages over a period of time, you’ll increase your reach.

That was the logic behind a series of email messages I developed for a client last year; we sent six email messages over the course of about 12 weeks. But the magnitude of the increased reach amazed even us.

Open rates were pretty much consistent from send to send, but when we looked specifically at who was opening, we found that we picked up new people after each send:
– Our unique cumulative open reach increased an average of 11% with each send in the series
– The second send increased our unique open reach by 31%
– Even with diminishing returns, the sixth send increased our unique open reach by 6%

In the end, cumulative unique open reach was 95% higher than the open rate on the first email alone, meaning that the last five efforts nearly doubled the number of people that were exposed to the campaign.

The same was true for our unique clickthrough reach:
– Our unique clickthrough reach increased an average of 20% send-over-send
– The second send caused our unique clickthrough reach to grow by 63%
– Even the sixth send provided a 10% lift in unique clickthrough reach over the five earlier efforts

Our final cumulative unique clickthrough reach was 236% higher than the clickthrough rate on the first email; over the course of the campaign more than three times the number of people that clicked on the first email interacted with us.

But the real success story is about what happened to clickthrough on the key call-to-action link:
– Unique clickthrough reach increased an average of 25% send-over-send
– It more than doubled (a lift of 105%) after the second send
– The last email sent provided a 7% increase in our cumulative unique clickthrough reach on this key call-to-action link

When all was said and done, the cumulative unique clickthrough reach on this key link was nearly five times that of the clickthrough rate the link garnered in the first send, a lift of 392%.

Developing a Strategic Email Series

A strategic email series is different than a straight resend. Rather than send the same message over and over again, you craft a “message map” and use it to develop different content all focused on the same goal or offer.

Email series can be used effectively in a number of ways:
– Welcome Campaigns
– Reactivation Programs
– Lead Nurturing Initiatives
– Event, Product or Service Promotions
– Top of Mind Initiatives

Email series allow you to present much more information that you could in a single email. They give you the opportunity to build the case for your brand, product or service over time, while building a relationship with your readers.

The best part of many email series, especially welcome campaigns and lead nurturing initiatives, is that while they take some time and effort to create, they are evergreen. They can be used, without major changes, for years to come since they’ll be sent to different people on an ongoing basis.

Have you had success with an email series? If so, please share your experience in the comments of this blog and let’s get a discussion going!

Editor’s Note: Jeanne Jennings is teaching MarketingSherpa’s Email Essentials Workshop Training in 10 locations around the country this year; the next one takes place in New York City on March 25th. She’ll be blogging about the course material and her experiences during the tour. We’re excited to have her on board and contributing to the blog.

Jeanne S. Jennings

About Jeanne S. Jennings

Jeanne S. Jennings ( is an email marketing strategy consultant with over 20 years of experience in the online/Internet marketing realm. She will is leading the MarketingSherpa Email Essentials 2010 Training Workshops at locations around the United States and Canada. Jeanne works with medium- to enterprise-sized organizations, helping them become more effective and more profitable online. Her direct response focus gets results for her clients, which include Hasbro, The Mayo Clinic, The National Press Club, Network Solutions, Verizon Communications, and Weight Watchers International. Jeanne’s book, The Email Marketing Kit: The Ultimate Email Marketer’s Bible, was published by SitePoint. Since 2001 she has authored a twice-monthly column on email marketing for ClickZ Experts. Jeanne is a frequent contributor to marketing publications as well as a sought-after speaker on email marketing topics.

Categories: Email Marketing Tags: ,

  1. March 18th, 2010 at 16:19 | #1

    Nice post and thanks for sharing. Just curious, what was the time interval between mailings in your series?

  2. March 18th, 2010 at 22:24 | #2

    Hi Suresh,

    Thanks for your question! We mailed the efforts over a 12 week (3 month) period, with approximately two weeks in between each send.

  3. March 22nd, 2010 at 12:25 | #3

    Hi Jeanne-

    Thanks for sharing this approach and the results of your campaign. The data makes a clear case of the benefits of this longer-term approach to customer engagement, which in some client environments, may not be easily adopted due to a lack of patience or willingness to invest in longer-term outcomes. Was this used with a B2C or B2B effort and what was the nature of the offer?

  4. March 22nd, 2010 at 15:59 | #4

    Hi Jose,

    You are welcome — thanks for your comment!

    This particular campaign was technically G2G — government to government, but it was actually very similar to a B2B effort, not at all like something B2C.

    The sender was a government agency that provides products and services to internal government “clients” and “prospects” in other agencies.

    The goal of the campaign was to educate current and potential clients on the benefits of using the products and services offered by the sending agency. The key call to action was to get them to click-through to learn more.

    Hope this helps!


  5. March 22nd, 2010 at 17:09 | #5

    Intriguing idea. What sort of content did you provide during the 12 weeks? Was it generally useful business (government agency) information, or did it pertain directly to the services provided by the agency that sent the email messages?

  6. March 22nd, 2010 at 22:34 | #6

    Do you think it would also work well for B2C?

  7. March 23rd, 2010 at 14:32 | #7

    Hi Ruth,

    Thanks for your question!

    We developed a “message map” for the series, which touched on how the sender’s services would help relieve “pain points” the recipients might be feeling.

    1. We opened each email with a quote about the problem/pain point featured in that effort. It was a real but anonymous person; we just included her title, which resonated with the readers, since she was “one of them.”

    2. Then after the salutation, we included a quote from a higher up in government (named) supporting the need to do whatever was causing the pain point.

    3. Then we went into how the sending agency could help the reader accomplish the goals set forth by the higher up with less pain. This included 3 to 4 bullet points which were unique to each email message.

    4. We had a standard closing paragraph with a call to action that appeared in every email

    5. Also in every email — a left column with links to the key call to action page and supporting materials

    I hope this helps!

  8. March 23rd, 2010 at 14:33 | #8

    Hi Richard,

    I know that this type of campaign works for B2C — I’ve created many campaigns of this nature for consumer packaged goods clients, telecommunication clients and others serving consumers.

    Give it a try!

  9. April 8th, 2010 at 21:46 | #9

    Did you see any changes in typical mail-to-mail unsubscribe rates as you continued the campaign? We have seen our customers have more success with this approach if it’s at the B2B level, but at B2C, customers can be a lot more likely to unsubscribe if they feel the volume is too high.

    I’m also curious as to what your typical sales cycle is for the products you were marketing via the emails. I would assume the timing of the emails would be related to the typical sales cycle for the best chance of success.

    Thanks for a great article!

  10. April 12th, 2010 at 18:39 | #10

    Hi Jeanne:

    Did you actually give the target audience map of what to expect? Like, we are starting this series, and here is what you expect… and then with every e-mail reinforcement that this continuation of the series, and this 1 of 6, 2 of 6 …etc?

    What kind of web site content did you use to tie it all together? Did you have a blog series to back it all up?



  11. May 1st, 2010 at 03:31 | #11

    Thanks for sharing your idea with us.keep it up.

We no longer accept comments on the MarketingSherpa blog, but we'd love to hear what you've learned about customer-first marketing. Send us a Letter to the Editor to share your story.