Tweaking creative to get to the point—and not offend customers—has helped dietary supplement marketer Uni Key Health boost sales and Facebook fans via email.
Uni Key sends out email blasts twice weekly to its customer base. These are promotional in nature, but try to educate users about a health issue or product. “We used to do longer, newsier emails, but realized that we weren’t getting high readership because people are too busy to engage with something line that,” says Carol Templeton, marketing director.
This led to a design change, focusing more on bulleted lists and bold text, to get reader attention. But the focus remains on having an educational component.
“Over time, just emailing discounts and offers will devalue your product—people will just wait until it goes on sale again to buy,” notes Templeton.
Seventy percent of Uni Key’s business is online, with a lot of business generated via word by word of mouth and via PR from a paid spokesperson, nutritionist Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman. The company has been using email for at least a decade, but didn’t feel it was using the medium as effectively as it could. It contracted with iContact to set up an easier to use email system.
Uni Key has an email house file of about 50,000 names; another 40,000 are also regularly reached through co-promotions to Dr. Gittleman’s email list of blog followers. “She talks about different issues in the news, and links to products.”
Visuals are also being constantly tested. With some of Uni Key’s products—such as weight loss supplements—the company has to be cautious, because people are sensitive about those issues.
This means you can’t just put a picture of a skinny girl in a bikini out there with an “Are you ready?” tagline. But, they found that a clean, modern image of a weight loss smoothie drink got a lot of clicks but didn’t translate into sales. A better approach was photos of a thin woman and an overweight woman, both tastefully dressed, with the images cropped to hid their faces.
“You have to create a message,” she notes. “If you don’t, people won’t click through.”
As for the ROI of Uni Key’s email efforts, open rates usually fall in the 13-14% range, while clickthroughs average 2% to 3%. Still, a higher open rate doesn’t necessarily always mean a successful email, says Templeton. Some messages that had a lower open rate actually were more profitable, because the people who clicked through were more committed to making a purchase.
Segmented messages go out to members of the preferred customer discount program. First-time purchasers are also targeted, as are customers who have purchased regularly in the past but haven’t bought recently. “Every so often if someone was an ‘A’ level customer in the past, we’ll send an offer to try and bring them back,” she says.
Facebook has also become a significant part of the company’s marketing efforts, with three separate pages for the brand, the Shakedown diet products and Dr. Gittleman. A recent email effort encouraging people to fan them on Facebook resulted in over 600 new fans in a few hours.
Uni Key’s customer base is primarily women, age 35-65. UniKey was founded in 1992 by Carol’s father James Templeton, a cancer survivor and proponent of alternative medicine. The company markets its own line of health food products directly to consumers online and via a print catalog, and has no real retail presence.