Blog : Email marketing

Five strategies for a healthy marketing database

Five strategies for a healthy marketing database

If you want a healthy marketing database, don’t be shy

A healthy marketing database requires constant upkeep, or it will degrade fast. The causes of this degradation are many: Customers become inactive. Implied consents expire. People unsubscribe. As a result, your relationship marketing program falters, no longer delivering the sales growth needed to ensure the continued prosperity of the company.

On the other hand, this common challenge is not entirely inevitable. It is possible to ensure a steady growth in the number of customers that can be reached by email. Simply implement these five key strategies. As you put them into action, you will quickly see your database grow and your sales increase.

1 – Capture your website traffic

 Many brands are too timid when it comes to collecting email addresses from visitors on their website. More often than not, they simply add a sign-up field at the bottom of the footer. The call-to-action is simply “subscribe to our newsletter”. Yet, according to recent statistics, 95% of visitors will never come back to your site. Hence the importance of identifying them in order to convert them.

But the question is How? And the answer is simply by putting together a well-designed set of acquisition tools. Among these tools, a clear call to action on promotional pages: “sign up to receive our deals, promotions, information and news”. To this, you’ll add the ubiquitous pop-ups, slide-ins, and other effective tools to get people to register.

But beware! Make sure that the trigger rules for these tools allow time for the visitor to engage with your content before appearing. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time.

2 – Take advantage of implied consent

 To maintain a healthy marketing database, you should include all active customers. But many brands are reluctant to do so. The main cause: there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the application of the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). And yet it is very clear that you can communicate with your customers for 24 months following the last transaction. You do not need express consent or hard opt-in to do so.

That being said, you must document this implied consent by capturing the most recent transaction (date and time, consent source, etc.). You then need to put in place a process that manages consent expiry at the end of the 24 months.

3 – Convert to express consent

Express consent does not expire. You can communicate with customers who provided consent until they unsubscribe. You should set up a conversion series that starts shortly after the latest transaction and continues until the expiry date of the implied consent at the end of the 24-month period. Be sure to emphasize the benefits of subscribing to your emails. And don’t call them newsletters!

4 – Reactivate using other channels

When your customers become inactive, in other words, when they no longer engage with your emails, it’s time to take action. Remove them from your regular campaigns and add them to a reactivation program. Create an “audience” using their email addresses and reach out to them using social and digital media.

You can also offer them exclusive deals and incentives to convert them to express consent. Lastly, once or twice a year, try to reactivate them through email with a bonus offer – the best of the year, plus any bonus.

5 – Involve front-line employees

Employees in your stores, customer care centers and elsewhere are a great acquisition source for you. Offering to send your customers a copy of the invoice by email is an effective way to do this.

On the other hand, the best way – because it is very transparent and motivating – is to offer customers savings on their next purchases by receiving the best offers and promotions by email. Express verbal consent is valid but must be well documented. Be sure to send a confirmation email to anyone who subscribes this way. The purpose of this email is to confirm consent and to provide an opportunity to unsubscribe as required by law.

ABC – Always Be Converting

 Ultimately, the best way to ensure a healthy marketing database is to capture customer emails at every opportunity and with every interaction. After all, customers expect attentive and personalized service. So how can you provide such service if you treat them like strangers? Take the time to get to know your customers and watch your sales explode!

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CASL: Canadian anti-spam legislation – Are you truly ready?

A/B Testing – How to implement a winning strategy

A/B Testing – How to implement a winning strategy

Yes, we can learn to love statistics and A/B testing

I am a big fan of optimization and A/B testing. But that was not always the case. When I was studying for my MBA at HEC in the 1980s, the most challenging courses I enrolled in was Statistics and Probabilities. This course, loaded with obscure equations, was meaningless gibberish to me. And I couldn’t see how it could be useful in real life except maybe for surveys.

Ironically, a few years later, I found myself starting a career in direct marketing, an area where everything was based on statistical analysis, probabilities and confidence intervals.

I quickly learned the value of optimization testing, as well as some of the pitfalls that novices face. Here are some tips to help you better implement a testing strategy. Never fear, we’ll try not to bore you with statistical concepts and equations.

Foster an optimization culture

The most successful companies understand that small gains of a few percentage points can add up to big gains when compounded year after year.

They also understand that the marketer’s gut feel can only go so far.  And that our personal biases sometimes lead us to make the wrong decisions. After all, we are not representative of our customers. We must objectively validate our assumptions, through optimization testing. And to maximize our chances of success and growth, testing must become part of your DNA and your corporate culture.

Give yourself the right to make mistakes

The first step towards an optimization culture is to accept that some tests will give disappointing results. We must give ourselves the right to the error. We must also accept that our current practices may not be the best and that there is always room for improvement.

On the other hand, do not excess by multiplying frivolous tests, because each underperforming test means that your sales will be impacted.

Prioritize the A/B testing that will have the greatest impact

In this sense, we must test the hypotheses that are most likely to have a major impact on the commitment and sales. Among these, we can test:

  • Targeting a campaign to identify niche markets that are more receptive to the product / service
  • The elements of an offer (the price and the expression of this price, the incentives – deals, gifts, free delivery, contests, etc., the duration of the offer and the conditions of sale)
  • The structure of the emails, the type of content, the relative position of the elements – in particular the CTAs.
  • The graphic processing of emails including imagery and emotion emanating from it.

But do not overdo it, like testing one word vs. another, the color of a button, and so on. Use your good judgment.

Your optimization test must respect the rules of statistics

When performing optimization A/B tests, an estimate is made of the proportion of customers who will be likely to have a given purchasing behavior. If we repeat the test several times, we will observe a similar result, but different. The dispersion of these results around the mean is what is called the standard deviation.

What you need to know is that the larger the sample used in your tests, the smaller the standard deviation. So the more the result of your test is reliable. Make sure you are working with samples of sufficient size so that you can validate if the result of your test are actually different (better, or worse) from what you normally observe.

Also make sure you only change one variable at a time. You cannot change the target population, the product price and the creative concept and expect a statistically valid result.

Measure the profound impact of your tests

It is not enough to dwell on engagement rates (opening and clicking). You must also look at the conversion on the site (newsletter sign ups, potential leads, bid solicitations, purchases and customer retention) and the long-term impact on the health of the database.

It is an issue that is measured over several months, even years, and you have to be vigilant. We have already seen situations where a test before stimulated a very large increase in the recruitment of new clients, but poor quality clients whose loyalty was very low.

Create a results directory accessible to all

The knowledge that results from these optimization exercises is a competitive advantage and the result of these efforts must be preserved and made accessible to all stakeholders in the marketing team, or even senior management.

Create a secure directory that groups the results of each test. After just a few years, you will have accumulated valuable strategic information that will allow you to make better decisions. This will allow you to always go further, but also not to test the same hypotheses again. After all, repeating the same gestures while expecting a different result is the definition of madness.

Some statistical analysis resources

Confidence interval calculator

• Sample size calculator

Do you want to implement a successful optimization strategy? Contact us to discuss it.


Flèche d’or 2019 award nominees – check out our three campaigns

Flèche d’or 2019 award nominees – check out our three campaigns

Each year, the Quebec Marketing Association (formerly the AMR) holds a competition to select the top marketing campaigns created by prominent brands and their agencies. Year after year, Strategies does quite well in the standings. Last year, we were awarded Best omnichannel marketing campaign. The year before, we were honoured as the Agency of the year.

This year, we have three campaigns nominated for an award (out of three submissions) for three of our clients. Check out the videos below to learn more about the nominees.


In order to highlight Kent Nagano’s last season as artistic director, the OSM commissioned Strategies to design an email campaign to launch programming for the upcoming season and begin the season ticket renewal process.

This campaign was highly personalized according to the various client segments. It integrates many interactive content elements, including musical excerpts from featured concerts from the upcoming season that can be listened to directly in the email. The engagement rates for this campaign are truly exceptional, which probably explains part of the nomination of the campaign.


Renault Canada and Europ Auto turned to Strategies to help it better convey the value of “short-term lease” car rental format and in the process help to boost sales. Our agency redesigned  the brand experience and implemented a relationship marketing strategy centered on the freedom and rich travel experiences that a only a car can provide.

The “Discover Authentic Europe”, program showcases destinations that are off the beaten path throughout Europe. Including a welcome series, a renewed e-mail template, destination campaigns and conversational programs geared towards the joys of traveling, this program resulted in higher engagement, increased website traffic and a significant sales increase for Europ Auto.



Levenswater produces a range of small batch craft gins in the Niagara Valley, including Levenswater Spring 34. This unique gin recently won the Best Compound Gin Award at the World Gin Awards. When it secured its first order from the SAQ, Levenswater needed to create awareness for its product in Quebec and quickly sell out inventories in order to stimulate a new order from the corporation. Levenswater turned to Strategies to set up an Influencer Marketing program to reach out to the mixologist community and gin-lovers in Quebec.

Working closely with a group of influencers, online publications and mixologists, we deployed an outreach strategy that generated over 600,000 earned impressions over an eight-week period. Tasting events were held in Montreal’s Frank & Oak stores and recipes were developed and distributed in partnership with several popular bars including the Alt+ hotel’s Les Cousins bar.

These nominations in such a prestigious awards competition is already a great victory for us. We sincerely thank the Jury of the Flèche d’or competition, under the chairmanship of Mélanie Roth, Senior Director, Strategy and Marketing Execution, National Bank for having recognized the quality of our work. Will we be the winners of one or more awards? This is what we will soon find out at the 2019 Awards Gala on June 11, 2019 at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the Association Marketing Québec website.


Apology emails: How to turn an Oops! into an opportunity

Apology emails: How to turn an Oops! into an opportunity

Despite all your best efforts to avoid them, sometimes errors slit through your carefully-planned safety net. Maybe it’s “just” a typo. Or a small design flaw. In which case, you simply make a mental note to pay more attention in the future and move on to the next project. But when it’s a more serious issue, like a broken link, the wrong price, or an email sent to the wrong audience, you only have one option: send an apology email or “oops!” email to your customers.

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Email quality assurance – Flawless QA helps prevent campaign blunders

Email quality assurance – Flawless QA helps prevent campaign blunders

It’s easy to forget about quality assurance (QA) with all the time pressures to get your emails out the door. Easy despite the fact that it is one of the most important steps in the creative process. Easy to forget that after having invested tons of time, energy and dollars in designing the perfect campaign, the simplest of errors can trip you up.

Which is why we wrote this post on how to do effective email campaign QA:

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Email marketing defined – everything you need to know!

Email marketing defined – everything you need to know!

Email marketing is a powerful tool…if you know what you’re doing

Email marketing is sometimes equated with sending out newsletters. But it’s so much more! Simply put, Email Marketing is the systematic and structured use of email in order to initiate, build and consolidate a relationship between brands and people. Email is the most popular media for Relationship Marketing. This is largely because of its impact, its ROI and its ability to grow sales.

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Email marketing basics – What you need to know to get it right!

Email marketing basics – What you need to know to get it right!

Make sure you nail all the basics

If you want an email marketing program that really delivers results, you need to get the technical basics right. The most beautiful content won’t drive results if it doesn’t get delivered. According to ReturnPath, an average of 20% of all email messages never reach their audience. Generally because they’re blocked or diverted from the inbox.

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CASL: Canadian anti-spam legislation – Are you truly ready?

CASL: Canadian anti-spam legislation – Are you truly ready?

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL), also known as C-28, comes into full force on July 1 of this year. If you’re sending emails to Canada and haven’t already taken steps to prepare for CASL, you have a few short days to get ready to comply with what is considered to be the most stringent anti-spam legislation in the world. And there’s a major incentive to do so: fines of up to $10 million for a business, or $1 million for an individual.

CASL and the concept of consent

At the heart of CASL is the need to obtain consent – either explicit or implied – in order to be able to send Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs) to your customers, prospects or subscribers.

Explicit consent is consent which is given verbally or in writing by a contact, using various means including a web page that provides a check box (which cannot be pre-checked) or a subscribe button.

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