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2 Wins and a Fail: Real Email Marketing Experiences and Lessons from Bond Brand Loyalty

Our recent search for the latest in email marketing led us to Jessica Mirabelli, Digital Messaging Specialist at Bond Brand Loyalty—who served up three tales (two shareworthy, one cautionary) that put experience front and centre, both for consumers and for marketers.

Knowing her team currently designs, builds and/or deploys campaigns for 15+ brands – we’re glad Jess was able to narrow things down to a few examples that can resonate across the industry. Each of them showcases how optimizing lifecycle email can influence and extend the experience beyond transactional touchpoints, so let’s get to it!

Win #1: Redeeming for travel—and help along the way

Rewards programs and lifecycles go together like, well, pretty much anything that goes together, really. Any program, especially those based on redeeming points, can benefit from having well-mapped triggers going to work for them. In one brand’s case, a comprehensive communication strategy was already surpassing expectations. What led to the positive results? A focus on campaign engagements based on relevant customer journey touchpoints.

If you’re into specifics (we are, obviously), 1 of 5 members redeemed 5X more points than before the triggers were launched—and when it came to cardholders booking travel with their points, Jess and company saw an opportunity.

“Knowing we’d be reaching travellers when it matters was just the beginning,” she told us, “we had to pinpoint useful content, too, and unique ways to deliver it. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are always just as important as the ‘when’.”

First, handy travel tips, combined with calculated content designed to reinforce the program’s key feature and benefits, hit your inbox post-booking. Then, timely look-aheads – scheduled according to your travel dates – take over with dynamic real-time content to help the brand make the most of the moment and stay with you throughout your travel journey.

Closer to your trip, with the goal once again being to show that the brand’s thinking of you – and to amp up your excitement – you receive an email reminder that your flight is just two days away. What’s packed inside? A checklist of travel essentials, as well as a live weather forecast for your destination. And to cap it all off, a day before your return, you get another checklist, along with a live look at what the weather’s supposed to be like once you return home.

No matter what mother nature has in store, members are left feeling valued and recognized.

Key takeaways:

  • • Personalized and relevant email content, no matter the touchpoint, tells your audience your brand has value beyond any standard transaction.
  • • Real-time targeting shows your audience you care and strengthens their emotional connection to your brand.
  • • A carefully plotted lifecycle can turn a single transaction, like redeeming points, into a full-on experience.
Win #2: CTR (Convenience Through Registration) and beyond

Of course, you don’t have to have a full-blown program to be sending emails strategically. Say you have an event. And say email is one of your channels of choice for communicating with prospective guests/registered attendees. Now, step out of those hypotheticals and right into this real-life scenario that plays out for Bond every year.

See, every Spring marks a new launch event for The Loyalty Report, a Bond staple and the longest-standing and largest global study on customer engagement, loyalty attitudes, behaviour, drivers and disruption. 2019 marked the culmination of an annual effort to maximize the registration flow and keep one of the company’s calling cards top of mind.

In Jess’ words, “We’ve always sort of tinkered with how we should talk when it comes to events—and how often,” she noted, “this year we upped the cadence a bit, and thought a lot about how we could turn emails that are usually transactional, into key moments in the overall experience.”

That cadence makes up a lifecycle that’s built to expand the experience, while opening the door for engagement before and after the event.

Your Registration/Invitation arrives in your inbox complete with:

  • • A battle-tested and urgency-inducing Live Countdown.
  • • A conveniently placed Add to Calendar option.
  • • Segmentation rules to separate registered and non-registered recipients.

Your Weekly Reminders leading up to launch day build anticipation by featuring:

  • • Curiosity-piquing speaker profiles.
  • • Tantalizing event teasers.
  • • Thought-provoking prognostications from Bond experts.

And last but not least, your Post-Event Communications empower you to:

  • • Provide valued feedback through surveys.
  • • Pre-register for future opportunities.

In the end, Bond saw registrants confirm their attendance faster than any other year, and more surveys filled out than ever before.

Jess admitted the results have had a trickle-down effect within the company, since Bond engages an overall audience of more than a million through its email and campaign marketing. “It’s not just huge for us,” she asserted, “it gives us some tried and true best practices, and a solid foundation that allows us to confidently set up other brands for success, too.”

Key takeaways:

  • • Being proactive with your audience – especially with regard to registration emails – and engaging registered subscribers, sets an expectation that future interactions will be worth their time.
  • • Inserting an Add to Calendar type functionality not only enhances the email experience, it contributes to a positive reflection of the experience as a whole.
  • • Opting out invitees who’ve already declined ensures you’re speaking to a captive audience.
Myopic fail: Return to sender

Before we cast off here, we wanted to note: Subscribers may not have even realized these next events took place, so keep’em on the down low, ok? Kidding aside, Bond recently had to navigate some choppy waters after embarking on what’s usually an uneventful migration.

At first glance, everything seemed normal. It wasn’t until a few months after the migration that a deeper look into one campaign revealed a consistently large drop-off in opens for the entire lifecycle. Not just a couple of triggers, every email.

The problem turned out to be simple: A provider was blocking Bond’s domains and preventing the emails from being delivered. 

The solution? It ended up being fairly simple, too, but here’s what played out. Contact was immediately made with the provider to remove the block and correct the issue.

The issue itself served as a catalyst for the team to implement critical changes:

  • • The addition of Delivery stats to make reporting more effective.
  • • The introduction of throttling on the account to ensure the daily cap for each email provider was being met.
  • • A full review of internal practices and content overall, which led to improved segmentation that targets active members of the program.

“It’s led us to a more fine-tuned process, for sure,” Jess admitted, “it’s even shown us how we can get our Decision Sciences team involved early and often, so we can paint a really clear picture when it comes to the data that matters to our clients.”

Key takeaways:

  • • End-to-end reporting – that includes more than just open rates – along with daily tracking, can help issues be identified more clearly—and be spotted before they become more difficult to solve.
  • • More wholesome business reviews can be achieved through improved monitoring, reporting and collaboration.

It was a pleasure having Jess share these email insights with us. Thanks to her, and to Bond, for putting the time in. We posted the link earlier, but if you want to know more about what they’ve got going on, you can check out the Bond website anytime.

Huge thanks to Zach Cosby, Associate Creative Director/Copywriter at Bond Brand Loyalty, for his contributions on this piece!