Boosting conversions thanks to multistep email campaigns

Double-digit conversion rate thanks to multistep email campaign

When products and services require detailed explanations, it’s best to communicate via email and more specifically, via a multi-step email approach. For the purpose of the campaign’s development, it was decided that one single email send would not be enough to achieve the desired conversion rates.

Conceptional considerations

For the purpose of the campaign’s development, it was considered that a high conversion rate could not be attained from just a single email. On the one hand, opening rates of 40% or more are seldom achieved with private consumers, and on the other, high conversion rates arising from an initial contact for a service requiring explanation are simply difficult to attain.

To obtain the highest possible opening rate, a preliminary split-test for the subject line was developed. In addition, each recipient not opening the email was to receive a subsequent email with a new subject line.

An incentive was also offered to ensure a maximum conversion rate. Each registering recipient was to receive a SmartHome pack, which allows the control of household electrical devices. Recipients clicking on the offer but not successfully registering were to be sent a special reminder email prompting them to complete the process.

The goal of the conversion campaign was that a total of 3% of all recipients register for the “Online Customer Account”.

About RWE

RWE is the second largest electricity producer in Germany, supplying electricity and gas to more than 30 million customers. One branch of the company, RWE Vertrieb AG, focuses primarily on giving its private customers the opportunity to easily manage their accounts online. This includes entering their meter values to make consumption projections as well as managing their payment installments.

To encourage more customers to register for the “Online Customer Account”, RWE conducted a targeted conversion campaign to target all customers that weren’t already registered. To do so, they enlisted the help of the Episerver Campaign consulting team.


  • An offer that requires explanation
  • Multistep conversion campaign
  • Subject line test as a key campaign component
  • Renewed dispatch for non-openers
  • Reminders to email openers not registering
  • An incentive as a special inducement to register
  • 11% conversion rate

4 phase implementation

The RWE campaign was executed in conjunction with Episerver consulting. The dispatch was conducted in a full service mode by Episerver customer service.

Phase 1: Split-test of the subject lines

To achieve maximum results in the mailing, a split-test of the subject line was conducted prior to sending to the entire distribution list. For each of the two different subject lines, 3,000 recipients were selected from the main distribution list to be sent the first campaign email.

  • Subject line A: Complete control of costs with your Online Customer Account
  • Subject line B: RWE SmartHome – test the future for free

While subject line “A” placed the spotlight on the key benefits of the “Online Customer Account” and thereby aimed squarely at the cost awareness of recipients, the focus of subject line “B” was on the incentive as the campaign “door opener”.

The split-test results were evaluated after 24 hours. The analysis showed that subject line “A” possessed a 21% higher opening rate compared to subject line “B” and also received 36% more clicks.

Phase 2: Main dispatch in 3 steps

All remaining recipients, i.e. those not addressed during the split test, were sent the first mailing on the following day with subject line A. The response was well above the expectations, with an open rate of 49% and a click through rate of 17%.

To help increase the conversion rate further, all non-opening recipients were sent another campaign email 4 days later. The content was identical but the subject line was new. The changed subject line was intended to create interest and curiosity among recipients:

  • Subject line C:„Do you want to save electricity, time and hard cash?“ 

With this second main dispatch, the campaign opening rate could be increased to 60%.

Recipients who also failed to open this second email received a third email 4 days later. The subject line was altered once again while the content remained unchanged. With a strong call-to-action, the new subject line created pressure to take action:

  • Subject line D: „The Online Customer Account: Secure your welcome gift now!“

Phase 3: First reminder in 3 steps

The third campaign phase involved sending a new email to those who, while opening an email in the main dispatch, did not register for the “Online Customer Account”. The corres-ponding campaign email was sent 4 days after the opened email from the main dispatch.

The contents of the reminder corresponded with those in the main email, yet were presented in another order. Here, the advantages of the “Online Customer Account” were made more pronounced while the incentive was given secondary importance. The reasoning behind this was that if the SmartHome package was an insufficient incentive, only a more detailed communication of the benefits could lead to a registration.

The subject line of the reminder email was: “Do you want to avoid a back payment? Register now for the Online Customer Account!” placing the focus squarely on the financial aspect, which had already shown the best results in the split-test for the first main dispatch.

Depending on which of the three main dispatches the recipient opened, these mailings were also sent in three steps. After completion of all three steps of the reminder mailing, the conversion rate was 7%.

Phase 4: Second reminder

All recipients that did not open the reminder email were sent a further reminder 7 days later. This included the same contents as in the first reminder. The subject line was, however, once again fine-tuned in order to increase the pressure to act: “You still have the chance to register for the Online Customer Account for free!”

The campaign concluded with the dispatch of the second reminder. In total, the RWE campaign achieved an impressive overall conversion rate of 11%.

Positive Results

More than every tenth recipient registered for the RWE “Online Customer Account”. As such, the originally envisaged 3% conversion rate was significantly surpassed. After its conclusion, the campaign had achieved almost four times this amount.

While the opening and click rates were already very high following the initial email, the conversions didn’t really take off until the campaign process was in full swing. The RWE campaign shows that multistep measures ensure considerably better results for products or services that require detailed explanations. This not least holds true for campaign goals that involve some kind effort on the part of the recipient, such as in the case at RWE where a registration form needed to be completed. This is so because multiple impulses compel recipients to look at the offers in question more intensively.

We faced the challenge of having to communicate an offer that required explanation to our recipients. Upon recommendation from the Episerver Campaign consulting team, we decided to implement a multistep approach. Paired with a high value incentive,the converssion campaign considerably exceeded our expectations.

Jennifer Tamblyn, Sales Manager at RWE Vertrieb AG

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