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Case Study: How an Established Dot-Com Used Interactive Email to Increase Its Click-Through Rate and Cut Unsubscribe Requests

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Company: Monster Worldwide (Nasdaq: MNST)
Contact: Graeme Noseworthy, Marketing Manager, Staffing
Location: New York
Industry: Employment, B2B
Annual revenue: $987,000,000
Number of employees: 4600

Quick Read:

Monster.com, an established online staffing firm, needed new ways to reach its core audience of busy corporate human resources professionals. In the third quarter of 2006, Monster revamped its main email marketing campaign to make it more interactive and personal. Monster representatives now send their contacts a short text email that includes a click-to-view link to an interactive presentation about Monster's services.

Once the two-minute presentation starts, it can be run automatically or paused on any screen, based on user preference. The presentation is read out loud by the system, enabling the recipient to relax while it runs or perform other tasks if necessary. The last slide is customized with the recipient's Monster.com sales contact and other personal information.

Monster credits the new approach with generating greater sales from existing customers, more leads from potential customers, and a higher click-through rate than ever before: 15%.


The Challenge:

Monster Worldwide is one of the best-known staffing companies, and its online division, Monster.com, helped set the standard for Web-based job searches. Since Monster went public in 1996, more than 75 million of its visitors have established personalized job search accounts, and tens of thousands have received jobs through the site.

The company operates in 36 countries, including developing markets such as India, China, and the Middle East. Its global sales force focuses both on large enterprises and small to medium-sized businesses.

Until recently, Monster's early market presence and reputation served the company well. But now there are plenty of ways for HR departments to fill job openings, from search firms to interactive ads on You Tube to the simple and popular Craigslist Web sites. Graeme Noseworthy, Monster.com's marketing manager for staffing, realized he had to make Monster more distinctive without ramping up his marketing budget.

The Campaign:

Under the system in place through mid-2006, Monster representatives would send email blasts and other standard email campaigns to current prospective clients. The email blasts "weren't distinctive, and some of them were loaded with graphics and content, making it hard to find our interactive link," Noseworthy recalled.

He turned to Brainshark, Inc., a Boston-based provider of interactive email campaigns, to design an email marketing program aimed at distinguishing Monster from its competitors. Brainshark developed a dynamic email campaign that can be tested on a real-time basis.

"We recently sent one interactive email to a test group and everyone stopped watching on the third slide—that told us to go back in and retool that slide, which we can do very quickly," Noseworthy said.

Once one of Monster's "Online Messaging Series" emails goes to a customer, the company receives many details about how well-received the email is and can stop midway and change the series if necessary. The company knows who received the email, whether the person opened it or forwarded it, which slides were opened and for how long, which were skipped, etc.

Monster now uses this interactivity to personalize campaigns like never before. "By knowing how long (the recipient) spent on each slide, we can tell if he or she manually clicked through quickly or let the presentation run its course. That helps us change our strategy for that particular client on the fly," said Noseworthy. "Instead of our marketing being like a cannon shooting in the air, we can target like a sniper."

Noseworthy also likes that his clients, who are busy and hard to catch on the phone, can watch the presentation on their own schedule. "This says to our audience, We know you are busy, so when you are ready, sit back and relax and check out our presentation. We aren't pushing the product in their face, yet they will feel (through the presentation's voiceover) as though someone is speaking directly to them."

The Brainshark software allows Monster to download daily lists of clients who watched the email presentation. Noseworthy's sales reps receive lists of customers and prospects in their territory who watched the email slide show, and the reps are expected to call those clients the next day to see whether they have any questions. This makes the process more effective, Noseworthy said, because the prospect can ask questions about a presentation still fresh in the client's mind.

Results:

Monster began the new interactive emails in third quarter of last year, sending current and potential customers monthly personalized email presentations. The company saw an immediate jump in sales leads and interactivity with its customers.

"It was virtually an overnight effect," said Noseworthy. "We have had a regular cadence of communications between customers and prospects. They know around the middle of the month they will get an email from Monster, and they read it."

He estimates the monthly emails have a 90% delivery rate and a 15% click-through rate, "which for us is extraordinary." The emails have a 0.15% unsubscribe rate, which Noseworthy said is much lower than before, although he declined to be more specific.

The investment in Brainshark software to keep the monthly email campaigns going was relatively modest. Noseworthy said his ROI on each email message has increased by at least 250%, with some messages showing a 2000% increase.

Lessons Learned:

  • Tailor your message as much as possible. Whether through interactive software, an internal database or other resources, personalize your presentation in order to grab the recipient's attention. Don't be afraid to change your message in midstream.

  • Keep an interactive message short. All of Monster's email presentations are 2-3 minutes long. "You want your audience to view this presentation as a break, and to do that you have to keep it short and easy to absorb. They won't stop to view a 10-minute presentation," said Noseworthy.

  • Recognize the hidden value in campaigns. "Some of our monthly emails we view more as a way of educating our clients, free training for them. We don't expect them to buy (Monster's services) every time," Noseworthy said.

Related Links:

Note: Annual revenue figure is for 2005; number of employees refers to Monster Worldwide.


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