Magazine article CRM Magazine

So Hot It's Cool: Ice Energy Pumps Up Sales with the Heat of Email Marketing

Magazine article CRM Magazine

So Hot It's Cool: Ice Energy Pumps Up Sales with the Heat of Email Marketing

Article excerpt


Ice Energy, a provider of ground-source heat pumps in the United Kingdom, aims to deliver its products for the best value. Still, heat pumps aren't exactly an impulse buy, ranging from the equivalent of $10,000 to $30,000 per unit. According to David Hutchinson, the firm's marketing manager, it can take up to 18 months of attention before customers--homeowners, developers, housing associations--make a purchase.

The firm's marketing efforts include Google AdWords, magazine ads, and direct mail. Email, usually the most convenient channel, turned out to be the biggest burden. In April 2006, Hutchinson began using Mailloop on his desktop to manage 6,000 subscribers. Each campaign took 10 hours--and stalled the entire office network. Worse, he adds, updates--opt-ins and opt-outs, for example--had to be handled manually. By 2007, Hutchinson says, Ice Energy realized it might be better off cutting its email efforts entirely.

Instead, Hutchinson set out to find better resources. By September 2007, Ohio-based email marketing provider JangoMail had come out the winner. "Maybe it didn't have the best graphics," he says, "but when you actually looked under the hood, the engine ... was incredibly powerful."

He sent a message asking the original subscribers about their heat-pump needs and if they were still interested in receiving emails. Out of 6,000 customers, 750 said they were either interested or ready to buy immediately; only 250 requested removal. The response, he says, was "phenomenal"--enough sales within the first 24 hours to cover 10 years of JangoMail's cost.

Ice Energy's list now has more than 15,000 people, and Hutchinson says the database grows by 10 percent each month, with only 50 or 60 opt-outs. On average, 20 percent to 30 percent of recipients access the Web site; some response rates reach as high as 80 percent. Once the recipient clicks a link in the email, Ice Energy tracks her behavior through Google Analytics, incorporating that information into future, more-targeted campaigns.

The emails are simple, addressed individually, and sent personally from Hutchinson. "I go to exhibitions and people come up and shake my hand as though I'm a long-lost friend," he says. "They've been communicating with me for such a long time. …

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