CNET lead nurturing case study: 26 % higher clickthrough rate

Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services at the US media site CNET describes how she increased the clickthrough rate by 26 %, the opening rate of the welcome e-mail by 12 % and that of subsequent e-mails by 10 %.

Primeau cites these figures in an article on MarketingSherpa, in which she also reveals a number of details of the programme she used to achieve these successes. At the heart of this was a lead nurturing campaign.


The opening rates for welcome and lead nurturing e-mails are now between 40 % and 80% – a remarkable figure. Primeau emphasises that the customers in the newsletter distribution list are among the most loyal customers a brand can have. Accordingly, it is worthwhile making sure that they are well looked after.

Customers are most likely to interact right at the beginning, when they have just joined the mailing list. She thus focused on the first few e-mails she sent to new subscribers.

1: Search for an e-mail newsletter provider

The first step of the CNET campaign to increase quality was to find a new e-mail provider. The main requirement was that welcome and lead nurturing campaigns could be easily implemented.

2: Create a welcome e-mail

The CNET site and all sub-pages provide a huge amount of information. The welcome campaign should introduce the most important areas and make it clear to the audience which topics are available to them. The user should not be overwhelmed by the selection, however – the sheer volume of information can be quite formidable. The key was therefore not to list too many details in the welcome e-mail, but to quickly send the recipient to the website and allow them to browse there.

3: Lead nurturing

Users receive further e-mails in the coming days based on how they open the welcome e-mail and whether they click on the links contained within.

These might include the following content:

  • Suggestion to connect with the social media channels of CNET (follow on Twitter, like on Facebook, etc.)
  • Download mobile app
  • Watch videos (best of)

4: Testing and optimisation

Primeau describes the testing process as elaborate, but absolutely necessary.

“This allows us to make sure that recipients get what they are interested in.” She also recommends that the results of the tests be published internally in order to benefit all stakeholders.

She explains:

“If we take the time to start a special campaign, then we test it. If we cannot test a campaign, then we do not launch it.”

The issues subjected to testing include:

  • Subject lines
  • Calls to action (CTAs)
  • Content (scope and design)
  • Advertising
  • The order in which the e-mails were sent

Interestingly, the order has a clear effect: in testing, the e-mail linking to the mobile app was sent first. This resulted in a reduction in the opening rate of 1.3 %, and reduced the clickthrough rate by 4.6 %.

Primeau’s conclusion on the respectable rates of increase that she achieved with this program? “We will definitely continue to test. Further testing will allow us to continue to improve our lead nurturing and better serve our new subscribers.”

The full article is available at MarketingSherpa: E-mail marketing: 26 % average increase in clickthrough rate for CNET’s welcome and nurturing program