Eureka! Tonbo Biosciences Discovers Key Customer Insights With Email Marketing


Founded in 2011, Tonbo Biosciences is a leading developer of high-performance, cost-effective products for scientific and laboratory research. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., it has 15 employees and maintains a sales and support staff to service U.S.-based customers, which include researchers, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Tonbo Biosciences also maintains a large network of global distributors, from Europe to South America.


As a growing company, Tonbo Biosciences needed to stay in touch with their customers on a regular basis and keep up brand awareness. “Our customers are primarily researchers involved in cell analysis – many in academic institutions – and email tends to still be a primary communication channel for them,” says Christopher Clarke, chief information officer.

A large portion of Tonbo Biosciences’ customer base reads text-only emails, so the company needed an email service provider that can seamlessly send both graphic and text-only emails, without any extra time or work. “Another big challenge for us is that often times the customer who receives the email is not the same person who places the order,” says Chris. “Most academic institutions and large pharmaceutical companies have centralized purchasing, so the person who often places the order isn’t the end user. We typically have a relationship with the end user and not the purchasing agent.”


Chris had been involved with managing email marketing campaigns for years at other companies, and had been interested in trying out VerticalResponse since working at his last startup. He was looking for a platform with a friendly user interface and seamless email creation process. VerticalResponse provided just that.

“I like the suite of functionality – list management, campaign management and the reporting tools,” Chris says. “The interface is simple and clean, and helps support our marketing effort without a lot of time and energy invested in learning how to use the platform.”


VerticalResponse automatically generates a text-only version of every email campaign created, solving one of Chris’s key problems. Additionally, the low cost of using the tool allows Tonbo Biosciences to reach out to its customers more often, so that even if the recipient isn’t the one making the actual purchase order, the company and its promotions will stay top of mind.

New product announcements, special promotions and upcoming events drive the content of the company’s emails. Exercising a very simple aesthetic to their campaigns has generated an excellent response rate from their customers. Chris values VerticalResponse’s detailed email reporting tools to understand the results of the email campaigns sent and develop more targeted messages for future campaigns.

In addition to excellent email delivery rates, Chris also appreciates the advanced tools that VerticalResponse provides, such as the ability to test emails with A/B split test functionality.

Recently, the company conducted an A/B test where they offered two promotions – one for a free product and one that offered three products at a discounted price. As suspected, the free product offer was largely redeemed by the end user soon after the email was launched, while the discounted offer was redeemed primarily by purchasing agents who “converted” later in time. This suggested that many end user customers forwarded the email promotion to their purchasing departments to act on, resulting in a slightly longer amount of time for them to redeem. These types of insights are incredibly valuable to the marketing team, who can then refine their campaigns to better align with their customers’ preferences and habits.

“We’ve found email marketing to have a substantial benefit relative to the cost to operate other marketing campaigns,” says Chris. “Email consistently drives traffic to our site and is starting to drive conversions as well. Web traffic spikes 10 to 100 times daily as a result of our email campaigns.”

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