Less Is More

I've written in the past about just how powerful e-mail can be for driving traffic to catalog companies such as L.L. Bean, Land's End, and Eddie Bauer. Week after week, we track spikes in Web site traffic that correspond with the regular weekly e-mails that these companies send out.

It is interesting, therefore, to examine how slight changes in creative and/or e-mail delivery can radically alter the typical Web site traffic patterns generated by these e-mail sends.

Take Eddie Bauer for instance. Week after week they send out nicely designed e-mails, usually touting some sale or promotion. Below you can see a typical example:

Here we have a promotion on men's and women's shorts offering $10 off.

Below is a chart that shows their typical e-mail drop (the blue line represents an e-mail sent) during the month of May. The red line shows the Web reach per million numbers as recorded by Alexa.



As you can see, there is a regular weekly pattern to the e-mail drop with one notable exception. You can also see that this exception, which was not dropped on the usual schedule, generated a tremendous spike in the Alexa Web reach number. Not only does it generate a spike, but the lingering effects of that spike are felt over the next week. Below is the e-mail that went out just before the spike:

As you can see, it is from their outlet store and has a completely different look and feel from the standard weekly mailings -- the most notable element being the lack of pictures and the placement of the giant 30 percent off text in the direct middle. Not only did the Eddie Bauer audience apparently respond in spades, the increase in site traffic lingered for days. The e-mails normally went out on Tuesday. This one went out on Wednesday.

Interestingly, other Eddie Bauer e-mails offered similar types of savings without spiking the Alexa data. But the simplicity of the creative and the irregular e-mail drop seems to have worked. Sometimes, less is more.

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