Case Study: How We Tackle A 50,000 Lead Auto Responder Step-By-Step

Dec 10, 2015


We should never discount the power of ‘The Hunch’. Acting on something because it just feels right can often take us great places! But when you want to make consistently smart marketing decisions, nothing comes close to collecting relevant, real-time facts about your data, and then acting on them. Repeatable, scalable data-driven decisions are basically just ‘hunch’ decisions, but without the uncertainty – after all, the correct ‘hunch’ is always hiding in the data anyway, you just need to know how to find it. Let’s apply this theory to one of the most effective forms of marketing: The Auto Responder.

The Auto Responder

Whether you send them via SMS or Email, auto responders are one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. They are a cost-effective and scalable way for you to open up a direct line of communication with each individual prospect, and providing you’ve acquired the right kind of leads, they can give you huge bang for your buck. Here, we take a look at the process of generating 50,000 net leads, sending out responders to those leads, and analysing the results of those responders. We’ve split the process into three stages, to help you see how each part works in greater detail:

  1. The Lead Generation Stage
  2. The Sending Stage
  3. The Reporting Stage

The Lead Generation Stage

The following data comes from work we did for a well-known brand with a high CPA. To begin with, we collected 74,083 gross leads. The first mistake many marketers make is using this raw data ‘as is’ – after all, the more numbers, the more chances, right? Not quite. We validated, de-duped and enhanced the leads with financial profiling based on our client’s targeting criteria, which left us with a net lead count of 51,387. We rejected the rest.

Overall campaign totals

Why remove 20,000 Leads?

By removing these leads, you are enhancing the data in three ways:

  1. The leads cost less to acquire – in this case, it added up to a large five-digit sum.
  2. You are protecting your server against being blacklisted from databases
  3. You are improving response accuracy by removing untargeted prospects

The days of ‘spray and pray’ marketing are over – modern technology lets us be as picky as we like with our leads, which delivers better conversion at a lower cost.

The Sending Stage

We sent the first run of this campaign to just over 50,000 recipients. Personalisation is so important in marketing. And it goes beyond simply having a “Dear [FIRST NAME]” slapped onto the top of your emails. The more information you can use to improve your marketing messages, the better – location, financial demographic, the device the email will be read on, etc… it all plays a part in how you tailor your communication, and it all helps you build the most accurate picture of who you are talking to. Having a hyper level of personalisation brings your data to life, and lets you tell real, relevant stories to your prospects. It lets you touch on the things they care about most, and it’s how we approach creating the messages we will send. Tapping into a prospect’s narrative like this is the key ingredient to standing out from the rest of the mundane junk they receive daily, and becoming a welcomed guest. With this in mind, we sent our first wave of emails, and noticed the following:

  • Low bounce rate or SPAM delivery, indicating the server and leads used were of high quality
  • Open rates were above average for the industry, with click-through rates more than double – this showed the emails were grabbing attention and driving action
  • Spam complaints were low – this meant the content was relevant, and the recipients likely had a genuine interest in the product we were offering

Email responder opens

If you track an email campaign on a heat map, you’ll notice that the highest percentage of bounces happen within the first couple of seconds, while a prospect is reading the headline and sub-heading or initial body copy. If there is no draw and pull, there is no response. When a person opens an email, it is absolutely vital that the initial ‘thing’ that caught their attention is congruent and consistent throughout the rest of the communication. In other words, it means the leading copy at the beginning of the email should follow on from the subject that enticed them to open the email in the first place. In our case, the emails were targeting people in the UK. Some of them were opened abroad – presumably by people away either on holiday or business, but at this stage we can’t rule out bots, so we would normally apply further fraud detectors to eliminate any remaining bot traffic.

The Reporting Stage

If you have access to the correct metrics, then you can dig deep in to what the ‘heartbeat’ of each campaign is, and act on this to improve the quality of further campaigns. However, if you don’t act on the data you collect, reporting is virtually useless. So, what you need is a system that lets you create “conditional auto responders”. These let you act on the results in real-time for the purpose of lead nurturing. In other words, you can do more than just gather data for future reference – you can set automatic responses that are based on how each prospect responds to your communications. For example, if you notice emails being opened consistently in the US rather than the UK, you might want to switch to sending offers more relevant to their geographical location.

Email countries Email device types, OS and browser

One great way to make data-driven decisions, is to look at which lead sources are supplying the most valuable customers, and looking at which are causing the most problems. This lets us scale up the leads we acquire from good sources, and kill any source that is causing issues.

Email device types, OS and browser Email responder summary

The better your system, the better your data-driven decisions will be. If you have a super level of granular personalisation, you can create bespoke, conditional auto responders that can formulate specific offers based on user habits, actions, demographics and interests. This lets you create a contact strategy that never sits still – a strategy that constantly evolves as the patterns made by your target market shift. It lets you communicate with your prospects using the information they want, and the information that is relevant to them. This is the contact strategy that will grab the attention of a prospect who would otherwise remain as a non-responsive piece of data within some dusty old CRM… and turn them into a happy, loyal, paying customer.


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