Here at HubSpot, when we decide we really like something, we go all-in. That includes things like email personalization, a global presence, and seasonality in our marketing.
So when it came time for the Latin America Marketing team -- or LatAm -- to strategize an email marketing experiment, we wondered if there was a way to combine all three.
It started out simply enough -- we wanted to find out if an email sent directly from a sales rep that included a link to book a meeting could convert better than one of our popular offers. But then we thought, “We can do better. Let’s kick the personalization up a notch.”And so, we did -- and here’s what happened.
How a Single Email Send Led to 200+ Meetings Booked
Within our LatAm partner marketing efforts, our inbound funnel often involves directing prospective agency partners to the Spanish version of our Inbound Marketing Assessment (IMA). But when Semana Santa, the celebrated week before Easter in Latin America and Spain, was approaching, we knew that many of our email recipients would be taking several days off prior to the holiday.
That meant we’d have to alter the content and tone of our message. Since these recipients were likely days away from several consecutive days off, we didn’t want to ask them to complete an assessment. Sure, we needed to provide a call to action (CTA). Otherwise, what was the point of sending an email? But it had to be something that took this timing into account -- something that still provided value, but acknowledged the upcoming holiday.
That created a foundation for our hypothesis:
By reaching out to people right before a major holiday in their region with messaging that is conversational and tailored, we will see a higher level of engagement in terms of meetings booked.”
Our goal was to find out if an email from a sales representative that included a direct link to book a meeting with them would lead to more conversions than our traditional one -- the email from a marketer with a CTA to complete the IMA form.
What We Did
To test our hypothesis, instead of directing the reader to our traditional IMA form, we included a link to book a meeting with a sales rep directly. But with the holiday coming up, the way we framed that option to book a meeting would have to be modified.
That allowed us to set some parameters for an A/B test, in which we created two different versions of the same email -- one sent from Stefano Gasbarrino, who was a rep at the time, and one from Carlos Villalobos, the LatAm Partner Marketing Manager. Each version contained its own message accompanying a link to book a meeting with a rep:
Version 1: An email from Gasbarrino with the message, “Here's my calendar -- book time with me.”
Version 2: An email from Villalobos with the message, “If you want to learn more about the Program, I invite you to book time with my colleague, Stefano, whenever you're back in the office. Here is his meetings link.”
Of course, the message had to have some additional context other than booking a meeting. So as an alternative to investing time in completing the IMA, we offered the recipient something “nice to read” at their leisure over the holiday -- in this case, it was the Spanish version of our Partner Program Info Kit. This was included in both versions of the A/B test.
Truth time: The results surprised us a bit.
To start, Gasbarrino’s email showed an 8% higher open rate than the one from Villalobos. That could be due to a number of reasons -- perhaps recipients were a bit too accustomed to seeing emails from Villalobos, and were intrigued by the new name in their inboxes.
But on the other hand, Villalobos’ email resulted in 10% more meetings booked. Those results suggest that, when people did open the email, they appreciated the more flexible language of this version.
We also wanted to test how an email send of this nature performed against our traditional one, too. So to measure the success of the "book a meeting" CTA vs. the "complete an IMA form" CTA, we also compared the average open and clickthrough rate (CTR) of our typical IMA email sends, versus those of the emails sent as part of this experiment.
Simply put, the email sends associated with this experiment performed noticeably better than our traditional IMA emails. In addition to a 15% higher open rate as well as a 7.2% higher CTR, the email sends containing links to book a meeting resulted in 40X the conversion rate of IMA form submissions from traditional emails. We booked 200 sales meetings from this one email!
Where Do We Go From Here?
While the experiment was generally a success, moving forward, we recommend putting guardrails in place prior to conducting tests like these. While we were thrilled to have over 200 meetings booked as a result of a single email send, that was far too many for a single rep to handle. A good problem to have, but Stefano was overwhelmed nonetheless.
In the future, we’ll use more finely-targeted segmentation when planning these email sends, and will assign a lead owner who can send "book a meeting" links on behalf of multiple representatives.
Our #1 Takeaway
Our biggest takeaway from this experiment, however, was its strong reminder to marketers not to lose sight of their audiences. It’s all too easy to forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen -- and overall, humans want quicker, more personalized solutions. Filling out a form requires them to wait to be contacted -- booking a meeting, on the other hand, gets that person onto a rep’s calendar right away, at their convenience. Addressing that time sensitivity can make your audience feel valued and prioritized.
Moreover, the ability to book a meeting with a person who has a name, a face, and availability can humanize a brand much more than a form is capable of doing.
How have you used to email improve your conversion rates? Let us know about your best experiment in the comments -- and hey, we might even feature it on our blog.
Originally published Jul 31, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated May 10 2018