Less is More: OptionsANIMAL Expands Reach and Revenue by Reducing File

Email acquisition program boosts customer engagement with Inbox Insight, new segmentation strategy

In 2013 online trading education platform OptionsANIMAL noticed a significant change in their inbox placement rates (IPR). After trying to combat the problem in a number of ways, including changing email service providers, OptionsANIMAL suspected that the source of the issue was their mailing list, which had grown dramatically in recent months. To find a solution, OptionsANIMAL decided to consult with a deliverability expert from Return Path, the global email intelligence company.

Return Path analyzed OptionsANIMAL’s email marketing program and recommended a list segmentation exercise to separate the least and the most engaged subscribers. Under Return Path’s direction OptionsANIMAL was able to identify its least active users and remove them from their primary sending file. Through this exercise, OptionsANIMAL’s core subscriber list was reduced by more than half, but its email performance more than compensated for the volume reduction: the number of messages reaching subscribers inbox tripled after slashing the file. Those gains held and today OptionsANIMAL’s inbox placement rates regularly approach 100%.

The more remarkable outcome of this change was the resulting revenue increase. OptionsANIMAL ended its best-ever quarter in December, and IT Director Colin Farmer directly credited part of that result to the improved performance of its email program.

Today OptionsANIMAL uses a number of Return Path tools to monitor the health of its program, including Inbox Insight to monitor its user engagement.  In fact Inbox Insight had already provided an early indicator of program performance improvements by tracking escalating read rates and declining spam rates in campaigns to OptionsANIMAL’s active segments. Inbox insight also helps the company evaluate subject lines, both for tactical marketing purposes and to find contextual trends in users’ interests. Additionally it allows OptionsANIMAL to evaluate others companies’ email engagement to identify potential partnerships for customer acquisition efforts. “We are trying to get to know our audience better and Inbox Insight is helping us do that,” Farmer said.

As its email program performance continues to feed list growth and business results, OptionsANIMAL sees the technology that helps optimize it revealing a simple guiding principle: engaging people, actively looking for ways to connect with them and communicate in a way that find valuable, is the only route to a successful email program. As Farmer said, “There are no ‘black hat’ ways to make email marketing work…you have to think of your subscriber as someone you want to engage with and not someone you just want to reach.”