Email Marketing Case Study


Objective: To maximise profit through email marketing


  • ROI on email marketing activity must be maximised

Master of Malt ( is a refreshingly visionary client.  They recognised that we were experts in the field of email marketing, so they knew they had the best people for the job.  Accordingly, they let us go to work with only 1 objective “maximise total return on investment from email marketing”.

A pleasingly focused and simple objective such as this deserves a similarly pleasing cost structure.  We agreed a basis for a profit share on overall profit generated through email marketing so that we were both aligned in our objectives, and made maximum return if we,

  • Minimised cost of delivery (on building email templates, running data processes, broadcasting the email, measuring results, etc…)
  • Maximised long term income – recruited customer that purchased high margin products frequently whilst minimising unsubscribe rates.

We followed our tested and proven email marketing consultancy road map, details of which below.

To discuss your requirements and design your road map to optimised email marketing activity, please contact us.

  • Consult to understand the market, the products, the brand and the business

The whisky market have several segments that are immediately apparent; the connoisseur, the gift buyer and the casual Whisky buyer.  Our email marketing strategy had to cater for all of these people and target content and frequency to suit.  Products fall into similar segments, with products targeted at the gift market for £30-40, staple Whiskies in the £40-£hundreds ranges and rare and old Whiskies costing upwards of £10,000.

Master of Malt as a brand has a distinguished and authoritative look and feel, but is never austere and blends domain expertise which tongue in cheek light-hearted fun.  The email marketing needed to be entirely consistent with the look and feel of the brand.

  • Identify the most appropriate email marketing software or email marketing services

Email delivery rates are a huge factor on the success (or otherwise) of an email marketing campaign.  ISPs (internet service providers) maintain records of bounced emails, spam notifications and email volumes for sender IP ranges in order to detect spammers.  In order to appear on the “white list” (trustworthy and responsible email marketers) it is necessary to build up a history of responsible behaviour with the ISP.  This takes time, and a while that history is being accumulated, the emails sent as part of the campaigns have a higher chance of being blocked as spam.  As a result, fewer emails will be delivered, opened, read, clicked on, fewer products purchased, and less profit made.  Bad for all involved!

With this consideration in mind, it was decided that the best fit for Master of Malt was to use an online email service, rather than to broadcast the emails from their own servers.

There are many excellent services available, but after a detailed product evaluation, the service selected was Mail Chimp (  A summary of the reasons for selection was as follows,

  • Mail ChimpMost importantly, pride of place atop the ISPs’ white lists
  • API interface, so that data from the marketing data warehouse feeds email campaigns automatically
  • User friendly interface for campaign definition
  • Support for A/B testing
  • Browser compatibility testing
  • Powerful email performance reporting
  • And a whole load more…

Using Mail Chimp (or services like Mail Chimp) will provide rapid delivery of emails through ISP white listed servers.

  • Design a contact strategy

Given the segmentation in the market, a 2 tiered contact strategy was developed,

  1. Newsletter mailings.  These are focused on the customer segments with high engagement in the whisky industry and focused on editorial content (featured distillery, etc…), social marketing (latest twitter chatter, blog posts, etc…) and industry news.  To minimise opt-out rates, customers can set their frequency preferences (weekly, 2-weekly or monthly) and unsubscribe from the newsletter, without unsubscribing from other email communications.
  2. Promotional mailings.  These are focused on special offers and promotions (discounted prices, competitions, etc…).  These are controlled, such that promotional email are only ever sent if there is a compelling offer so as not to bombard customers and increase opt-out rates.  Customers are given the option to unsubscribe from these emails, while remaining subscribed to newsletter mailings.

Depending on the customer segment, customer preferences and likelihood that thy will unsubscribe, customers receive newsletters and/or promotional emails at a frequency, and with content, tailored to maximise return.

  • Create an email template

There is a fine line to be walked with email templates…  A single template will reduce the effort (hence cost) required to produce email campaigns, but how do you know that single template is the best possible template?  We implemented a rolling test cycle for our email template, moving text, images, links, logos, etc. around the page to find the best configuration for a given email campaign and customer segment.

Some examples,

N.B. these emails are the online version, emails sent to customers were personalised!

  • Build automated processes to fulfil the campaigns without intervention

Stored procedures where coded into Master of Malt’s production SQL Server database to interface directly with the Mail Chimp API.  This means that campaigns could be run, and mail preferences constantly kept up to date, without having to manually process any data.

  • deliver sophisticated analytic reporting so that we can track performance

Using a combination of inbuilt Mail Chimp reporting, web analytics data and Master of Malt transactional data, we were able to deliver reports on,

  • Open rates
  • Click rates
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Spam complaints
  • Email forward rates
  • Transactions
  • Average number of products per transaction
  • Average product price
  • Total revenue per order
  • Total lifetime profitability of customers
  • Etc…


  • Which link was clicked on the email
  • Geography
  • Customer profile
  • Time of day opened
  • Time of day broadcast
  • Recency/frequency
  • Etc…

These were organised into an MI portal (more details on our approach to M.I. delivery) so that the trends are available at a glance, and interactive drill-down reports provide the detail.

  • Advanced analytics for optimisation

Once the process is in place to efficiently broadcast, test and measure campaigns, we were able to embark on an on-going program of optimisation.  Using advanced marketing analytics, we are able to continually improve profitability by targeting content, optimising layout, changing email frequency, etc…

As an example, using logistic regression analysis, we are able to maintain models that identify the probability that a customer will unsubscribe from a given mailing.

The result:

Automated email marketing campaigns which are continually being tested to improve profitability.

Please contact us to discuss the email marketing requirements of your business.

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