Waste company e-mail campaign drives trade show success

Publication: BtoB
December 6, 2007
By Karen J. Bannan

The waste water management and treatment industry is huge. Every municipality in the U.S. has to treat waste water, so each is a potential customer for In-Pipe Technology Co., a Wheaton, Ill.-based waste water treatment technology company. In-Pipe Technology has a small marketing budget, however, so it relies on trade shows as a way to get in front of prospects.

For example, last year it sent postcards by mail to 4,000 attendees of WEFTEC.07, the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, asking them to stop by the company’s booth and enter a drawing. The company paid $290 for the postcard design, $776 for postage and $2,900 for printing. Of the 4,000 attendees who received the postcards, 120 people dropped the cards off at the booth, and 76 people got their badges scanned.

“Even though we got 120 back, there was no way to know if they read the card, and we have no idea if the other cards we sent were even received,” said Nikki Clay, the company’s sales and marketing coordinator.

After taking a careful look at the success of the direct mail campaign—and its cost, which worked out to be about $4,000, or $1 per piece mailed—In-Pipe Technology decided to make a change. The company started working with e-mail service provider SubscriberMail, creating a campaign around this year’s WEFTEC conference.

The company used a list of 1,091 people—a mix of customers and prospects, some of whom had attended the conference and signed up for e-mail in years past. The message, which included a bulleted list of what the company’s product and service does with links to landing pages and a request to stop by the booth, was e-mailed efore the show. It received an incredible open rate of 22.46%.

“In other words, 245 people actually opened and read our message,” Clay said. “Compared to the direct mail campaign, that’s a 104% increase using a list that is a quarter of the size.”

Almost 9% of people who opened the e-mail clicked through. In addition to the 245 unique opens, In-Pipe saw 491 total opens, which was really significant, Clay said. The company scanned 92 badges at the booth, an increase of 21% at a much lower cost.

“We were able to see what people were most interested in. Because we have an innovative technology, we’re not always sure how the market perceives our product and what they find interesting,” she said. “This gave us an idea of what points people wanted to learn more about.”

The e-mail program worked so well that In-Pipe Technology has abandoned its direct mail campaigns completely. In addition, because of the undisclosed cost savings, the company now has the money to advertise in print publications.

“My CEO said this was the best ROI marketing program that we’ve ever done—the best marketing dollars he’s ever spent,” Clay said.

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