This Just Tested: How 1:1 marketing achieved 21% more clicks and 60% less unsubscribes


Over the past couple of weeks, our content and production team has been mulling through research from multiple companies, trying to find the best experiments for today’s web clinic. It’s always exciting trying to find the right illustrative research that will serve our audience. In the midst of this, a very interesting case study came across my desk that I just had to share with our blog community.

The experiment came from the research library of ThinData 1:1 and was with a large airline that had a strong online presence. They had the goal of improving the level of user engagement (through higher click-through rates and lower unsubscribes) for their customer newsletters. They wanted to test a 1:1 marketing approach and see how much impact a personalized conversation with customers would have.

The Original Newsletter (click-to-enlarge)

Original Email DesignFirst, it will be helpful to see what the original newsletter looked like. There are a few key things to note:

1) The goal of the email was to create enough interest on the part of the recipient to get them to click through to a specific flight offer.

2)  Every element on this email was sent generically to large subscriber segments and included offers without any reference to a recipient’s personal preferences.

3) The only (and it’s debatable) 1:1 marketing technique that the original email design included was the name of the recipient.

The 1:1 Marketing Strategy

One-to-one marketing conversation requires a couple of key ingredients, one of which is insight about your customers. So, to understand their customers better, this company created a “customer preference tool.” This tool took previous behavioral/purchase data and mapped out preferences in five key areas (destinations, airports, hotels, etc.). It also gave customers the ability to update their preferences for each of these areas.

So once they had some solid insight about the preferences of their newsletter recipients, they were ready to start a better conversation.

The New Design (click-to-enlarge)

New Email DesignA new email template was created to customize content according to the five key preference categories of the customers. In fact, the tool was inserted at the top of the email and functioned as a table of contents for the email. It also gave recipients a portal to their own preference center to make any changes.

The rest of the email was organized by an algorithm that gave higher placement to offers with higher preference status to the email recipients.

Instead of displaying all possible offers for a category, offers were filtered according to the preferences of the recipient.

Overall, the new email design created a 1:1 marketing conversation that matched the specific motivations of the recipients.

The Results

As mentioned in the title of the blog post, the results were impressive. For a large company that no doubt had already spent time improving these newsletters, they were able to increase the click-through rate generated from the emails by 21%. And this came by subtracting, not adding more links within the email. The new design also decreased unsubscribes by 60%, which the marketers interpreted as a big thumbs-up from their subscriber base.

Overall, the results of this test underscore the value and potential impact of striving to have a 1:1 conversation in our marketing campaigns.

What does this mean to you?

Ideally, you would have as much information as this company had about their customers, and if it were a perfect world, you would have unlimited technical development capabilities at your fingertips. Well, most of us don’t live in that perfect scenario and creating a true 1:1 marketing campaign like this company might seem a bit out of grasp.

Here’s the good news, 1:1 marketing has a path leading to it and everyone is somewhere on that path. And every marketer, regardless of company size, can improve the conversation they are having with their customers. Today on our web clinic, we will look at the strategic things that marketers of any level can do to improve their 1:1 marketing campaigns. So join us today as we talk about this case study and more during our free web clinic: 1-to-1 Marketing at Four Levels: Strategic ways every marketer can enter into an online conversation with customers

Note: To give credit where it is due, I’d like to point out again that the case study mentioned in this post came from the research library of of Thindata 1:1. Thindata 1:1 is a training partner of ours that provides one-to-one marketing automation solutions. They have done some interesting research in the area of one-to-one marketing and I would encourage you to check them out at

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  1. Philippe says

    Very good post.
    I’m having the exactly same issue where I work. We are not applying enough 1:1 marketing strategy in our e-mails, and we’re totally missing out opportunities of revenue.
    Shame I won’t be able to do seminar, I’m based in London and don’t feel like doing the seminar from 9 to 10pm. Any chance you could get a recorded version?

  2. Austin McCraw says


    Thanks for the feedback.

    Sorry to hear you won’t be able to attend the clinic today, but the good news is that we post all our web clinic replays in our research directory online. Here is the link:

    It takes our team about a week to edit and produce the replay, and you can get a notification when it is live by signing up for the newsletter (in blog navigation above).

    Hope that helps!

  3. BusinessCast Co-Host says

    Very nice post. As one of North America’s leading business podcasts, we have interviewed Chris Carder, President of Thindata 1:1, several times. After having spoken to him, I can tell you that this particular client also achieved significant process efficiencies/hard dollar savings — which is something that many marketers strive to achieve.

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