The Bottom Line

If you ever had any doubts about the importance of e-mail as a traffic driver, please take a look at the following chart:


This graph shows the e-mail sends and the site traffic data for a well-known marketer in the catalog space. In this chart, the red line represents their e-mail sends over the last 30 days. As you can see they send out an e-mail once a week like clockwork. The blue line shows their site traffic in Web reach per million numbers as supplied by Alexa.

What this chart illustrates is that there is a dramatic jump in traffic on the days that they send an e-mail out. And for the most part there is a noticeable trough between the days the e-mail goes out. Obviously there are other marketing efforts that this catalog company is using to drive people to their Web site, including search marketing.

But by being able to overlay the traffic numbers with the e-mail sends, it is very clear that their e-mail newsletters are the major drivers of traffic to their site. On most days the e-mail goes out, there is over a 100 percent increase in site traffic. On one day, there was over a 220 percent increase in site traffic.



Of course I don't know what the sales numbers or actual traffic numbers are for this company, but let's do some back of the envelope guessing. Let's imagine that one in 10 people make a purchase on the site. We can assume that since this is a catalog company most people are not going to it unless they want to make a purchase, so our one in 10 number is probably on the low side, but lets be conservative. Based on that, this company increased their sales by 12 percent over the last 30 days simply by sending out a weekly e-mail.

Now I just did a Web search and found that this catalog company did $501 million in sales in December of 2000 of which 15.5 percent was attributed to Web sales. Remember, these are 2000 numbers. We can assume that the current percentage of Web sales is much higher, but let's be conservative.

If we stick with these conservative numbers, it means that these four e-mails sent out over the last 30 days resulted in a $9,018,000 increase in sales for the company, or $2,224,500 per e-mail. Not too bad.

Now let's take another look at the third big spike in the chart. The spike actually occurred the day after the e-mail went out and it was the largest spike of the month. Why? By taking a closer look at the time stamp we can get a clue.

The e-mail on September 21 went out later than usual. Usually, their e-mails are sent out in the late morning or early afternoon. This one went out after 5 p.m. that day.

What this indicates is that most of the people clicking-through on the e-mail are only seeing the e-mail before 5 p.m., indicating that people are reading it at work. It also indicates that people may be much more likely to click-through early in the morning when they get to work (assuming that this is when they finally saw the e-mail that came through).

It would be interesting if this company shifted their e-mail sends to early in the morning to see if that provided a significant boost in sales as a result. The creative itself might also have an effect. The e-mail on Sept. 21 offered free gift boxes in a banner at the top of the e-mail page, which previous e-mails had not. However, the same offer was made on Sept. 28 but did not generate the spike. The e-mail on Sept. 21 also offered turtlenecks. Maybe the turtlenecks did the trick.

As always, all data comes from the Emerging Interest's e-mail intelligence tool, CETS (which is about to be re-branded with a much better, more pronounceable, less geeky name. Stay tune.)

I'm off to the DMA show the week of the Oct. 18. If readers are also going to be there and would like to meet the E-mail Insider himself, drop me a line at

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