For the last few years, prior to many of our research campaigns going live I’d get a request to send some emails to warm up the data before passing the campaigns over to our research teams for follow up.

For selfish reasons (it takes time to set up an email and get it live with approval) I wanted to find out whether there was any value in sending these emails, so I wanted to question:

Would individuals who had taken an action from our emails be more receptive to a call from our research team?

Marketers intuitively sense this should work which is why they ask for the email to be sent, yet anecdotal evidence from our reseachers has suggested that there wasn’t a great deal of difference between cold data and pre-emailed data.

I wanted to look at the actual numbers to see if these could tell us what's really going on. 

The test

We selected a research campaign for a security focussed client with the aim of generating audience profiles.

Within this campaign we had three separate data pots for our operators to call into:

  • Cold data that had not engaged with the client previously.
  • Data that had received an email before the call and either opened or clicked. (I often criticise opens as a metric, but decided to include these hoping to further disprove their value)
  • Data that had completed a form fill (e.g. to access a piece of content / a download) and therefore taken an affirmative action.

Each pot of data was similar in size with around 500 contacts and the operators were moved between the data sets randomly.

Sides notes

Even clicking on a link within an email is no longer necessarily an accurate metric in my opinion; "click bots" have become an ever-present nuisance in our email campaigns over the past year so it’s becoming harder and harder to see whether a click is a real action taken by the recipient or otherwise.

Form fills require someone to actively populate their data and then confirm they want to take an action e.g. download some content. This action should be harder to forget then simply clicking on one of the hundreds of emails you likely receive daily.

The results

Below shows the response rate from a telephone-based research campaign that utilised three separate pots of data: cold data, engaged email data and form fill data

What can I see from this?

So it seems that when conducting research warming-up prospects up with an email delivers a marginal gain, as the pot of data that opened or clicked on the email responded slightly better than those called-cold. 

The biggest difference comes when researching contacts that have already actively engaged with your brand e.g. downloaded content. They're three times more likely to be contactable and tell you more.

How does engagement from a form fill drop off after two weeks?

Timing is important when following up contacts from form fills. 

From my further analysis on this campaign we saw that downloads that are followed up within seven days of download (when completing the form and consuming the content is fresh in the memory) have a 63% chance of converting vs 27% in the period after.

Mmm, so

For a more complete picture I'll need to keep analysing future campaigns. 

But from this initial research we can see there is a marginal improvement to be had from warming up contacts with an email. The biggest difference comes from calling in to contacts that have completed a form fill. 

For research campaigns to work (as with all telemarketing campaigns) you’ll need to set your team up for success and ensure the campaign is fed with relevant and engaged data, as here it was the highly engaged contacts that converted the best.