E-mail Newsletter Case Study: Direct-sell E-mails

The mission of the Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP) is to improve the practice of management and its impact on a changing world. The company seeks out and publishes ideas it believes will have a significant impact on business for a decade or more.

The company has been successful with its Harvard Business Review and Harvard Management Update products, but wanted to expand into non-traditional media such as CD ROMs and video. However, the company’s target audience, high-level executives like CEOs or COOs, are strapped for time and difficult to reach.

The company felt that traditional a direct mail campaign wouldn’t work because busy executives rarely go through their own mail. In addition to the problem of reaching their target audience was the problem of enticing them to buy.

The HBSP needed to develop a process that was so simple that even a busy executive would have the time and interest to complete the transaction. The HBSP turned to E-dialog, a company that advocates the use of e-mail and database-driven Web applications to develop and sustain responsible two-way electronic dialog relationships with customers and prospects of leading companies.

To assist the HBSP, E-dialog developed [email protected] Interactive, a newsletter that features articles, reader polls, and surveys, all delivered via text e-mail. The HBSP uses the newsletter to offer special promotions and exclusive content on HBSP material. HBSP also sends the people on its newsletter subscriber list direct-sell e-mails.

To streamline the efficiency of this process, the HBSP uses E-dialog’s QuickReply technology. QuickReply allows recipients to purchase products simply and easily by typing a natural-language response in a reply e-mail message. E-Dialog’s QuickReply processing engine sorts and routes the reply e-mails, reads the information from within the e-mail, and feeds order information back to the HBSP database. QuickReply also allows recipients to easily verify and update their physical address information.

The [email protected] Interactive subscriber list has grown seven-fold since its inception in the fall of 1997. In a split test of E-Dialog’s QuickReply e-mail against fax and direct postal mail, QuickReply e-mail generated an impressive 5,000 percent return on investment while significantly beating fax and postal mail response rates.