Inside the Harvard Business Review Content Comes First (1,872
Cohen says he's been cautious about renting third-party e-mail lists due to their lower ROI and pay-up rate. At the time of this interview, HBR was gearing up for its first e-mail campaign to be delivered to rented e-mail lists using an HTML format and rich media.
Another drawback to renting quality e-mail files, finds Cohen, is the inability to structure the files similar to a traditional direct mail list. "You don't quite have the merge/purge and list maintenance capabilities that you do with traditional direct mail," he points out.
The jury's still out, says Cohen, but he plans to move ahead with e-mail marketing. But, how quickly he moves will be determined by how high the pay-up rate is from the current campaign.
Regardless of the file to which HBR is marketing, Cohen is as mindful of the content of the e-mail message as he is of HBR's direct mail campaigns. He takes the best of its print campaigns and distills the essence of it for e-mail campaigns. Just as all elements of a direct mail package are tested, so too are the components of its e-mail campaigns, including content, length, subject line, HTML vs. text and premium vs. no premium.
It also is planning to test an electronic format of its premium. Prospects that place an order via e-mail will receive a reply with a link and instructions to download the premium. The test results so far show almost a 50-50 split, reveals Cohen, who plans to test a bit more before rolling out the electronic format in e-mail campaigns.
E-mail also is used to drive traffic to HBR's Web site. Each month, it sends subscribers, who have opted-in, an e-mail update that features abstracts and summaries from the current issue. Delivered in HTML format, the e-mail contains a URL that links back to its site.