If you want to boost email engagement, one of the best ways is also becoming one of the easiest: add video.
Video and email are a match made in marketing heaven. Everybody uses email, and more consumers are watching videos online with each passing day.
The relationship between email and video hasn’t always been a smooth or lovely experience. In the past, largely technical hurdles like incompatible email browsers and spotty bandwidth have kept these channels separated.
These tech limitations made video in email a hit-or-miss experience for many viewers. And that unreliability, coupled with a hazy ROI and lack of content and production time, also turned many email marketers off the video trend.
But today, technology is catching up with the public’s growing appetite for consuming video. And it’s doing so in a way that makes the value of video in email much more apparent and trackable. Now, all it takes is a few clicks to embed videos into email and analyze the results without a single line of code or concern about platform compatibility.
A few browser holdouts are keeping video from reaching its full email potential (we’re looking at you, Gmail), but every day more and more email environments are evolving to handle video. Apple’s native desktop and iOS email clients, for example, make embedded email videos possible in Outlook across every Mac device.
Especially if you’re trying to capture the attention of highly coveted Gen Z and Millennial buyers. A 2020 survey found 88% of this group watch videos for entertainment, giving the brands that take advantage of this trend a unique opportunity to engage audiences across a variety of digital and social media channels like never before.
The lesson here: If you want to increase engagement among your younger customers (or any follower, for that matter), add video. Besides expecting it, these active video consumers are much more likely to respond to interactive messages. So why not give them exactly what they want?
It’s not as pricey or complicated as you might think. Marketers spent less than $300 on average on video in 2020. Today, cost is no excuse. You can produce a high-quality video using just a smartphone and a good ring light. And that doesn’t include the dozens of free or low-cost video production tools you can use to edit emails like a pro.
Video can amplify other advanced personalization tactics. Video is most successful when used strategically. Your embedded email videos can draw eyes to dynamic factors such as real-time content targeting by location, time of day, and more. Ensuring your customers never open an outdated offer or out-of-stock sale alert again.
Add the human element: Room & Board features live video in many of its promotional emails. In the email example below, it brings a customer’s story to life with an on-demand interview that discusses their unique experiences and most helpful advice.
Set the tone: Videos got many homebound tourists through a year without travel in 2020. And now, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is capitalizing on both the longing to get away in luxury and the need to feel safe by including video in its emails that takes viewers on an up-close,-personal tour of its newest ships.
If you’re ready to add video into your email experience, check out our How to Embed Video in Email guide. You’ll learn the basics of DIY video embedding, different ways to use video, and how to effectively experiment with your emails to improve results.
This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BBIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.
This post is authored by Jada Harland, CEO + Talent Marketer.
From a consumer and recruiting perspective, diversity did not become important; it always has and will continue to be important to the structure of any long-term success of any business.
According to HR Digest, a McKinsey study acknowledges that “Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians and gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to do the same.” Trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of potential customers support a variety of industries with their cash.
But another currency that has become more and more valuable is engagement. Inclusivity in talent leads to new perspectives, accountability in better decision-making, and endless ideas for content. So, I pose the question, why shouldn’t the talent supporting the internal structure of a business reflect their customers?
Recruitment is a bittersweet necessity for all companies, big or small. The recruiting teams keep the wheels of stellar talent turning as businesses expand, roles change, and new opportunities emerge, giving the recruiter extraordinary power to shift the narrative of their respective company’s diversity agenda. Therefore, a good recruiter is to hire the best candidate for the role, regardless of what one’s name looks or sounds like on their resume, any assumptions of personal preferences, or skin color.
My take on talent is a little different as my role as a Talent Marketer has incorporated, if not focused, on diversity quite a bit. This job title has gained traction in recent years as more workplaces realize recruitment is more than just cold calls and looking over hundreds of resumes. A lot of the time, we are assigned unicorns that we must attract, entertain, and persuade to join our clients’ organizations or our own companies.
Hence the marketing aspect of recruitment is strategic in achieving the goal of encouraging the increase in engagement from a diverse and capable talent pool. And to top it off, I primarily focused on hiring marketing talent.
I should also mention that my role in Talent Marketing was even more unique as I am also a Black woman in Corporate America, where there are only a few others who look like me in most companies. For example, as a Talent Marketer, supporting recruiting efforts often puts me on a team that has only 1 or 2 black recruiters out of 30+ recruiters.
Leaning on my experience hiring project managers, copywriters, consultants, contractors, and even executives, you hear and see a lot on the backend of the hiring recruitment process that makes me hopeful about workplace diversity for our future. Some rhetoric makes me proud of the progress made in Corporate America with a genuine demand for great talent that will change the outlook of the office, while other times I find myself cringing at displaced and disgraceful commentary surrounding the conversation around diversity or inclusivity.
It’s general knowledge that after President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 in 1948 diversity in the armed forces would bring about change, but the corporate initiative has been painfully slow until recent years since the 1960s.
As a Talent Marketer, I have had the pleasure of focusing on marketing professionals who I consider to be the gateway for change. Marketing and Advertising teams are hired to manage half the business. Their half of the business is primarily focused on demand and ongoing engagement. The content produced by the marketing team guides the conversation around a brand and the interactions of the customer.
This past year, the Black Lives Matter Movement exposed uncomfortable issues in our private lives, but also in the workplace. Many companies scrambled to make the conscious decision to identify who their customers were and to address how they were being affected. This led to new campaigns being produced, companies rushing to hire more diverse talent so as to not be part of the problem, and even displaying their political views on social platforms.
These efforts were driven by marketing teams that suddenly had to face the struggles of their peers as well as consumers. In light of the BLM Movement, the lack of empathy from Corporate America became impossible to ignore and many companies acted swiftly, leading to the understanding that representation matters in and out of the office. That’s one reason why creating diverse marketing teams and marketing leadership is important. Witnessing the impacts of marketing on the social constructs of our world means the more people who look and think like us all, the more change we will see.
But while diverse marketing teams make big strides toward change, marketing teams that lack diversity can make big mistakes. We all saw the epic fail of H&M and their campaign around a new line of clothing with black kids wearing monkey shirts. This led to an uproar and H&M struggled to recover. The same goes for Dove under Unilever with their campaign with a black woman removing her brown shirt to be replaced by a white woman in a white shirt or skincare brand Nivea, and even Pepsi. All could have been avoided and saved millions of dollars on horrid content if they had a more diverse team to speak on these issues.
In my role, I deal with talent 70% of the time. I have been on the agency and client side. Unfortunately, the conversation about diversity is complex when dealing with hiring clients for several reasons.
First and foremost, the lack of access leads to lack of diversity. As a recruiter and as a marketer that attracts talent, the data shows that the talent is out there, but there are changes that must be made. Job descriptions should be descriptive of the role but leave room for individual experience.
For example, if a role requires a candidate to have experience with “creative assignments” and they have all the required tools to get the job done, who is to say that their experience working on other material outside of “White America” would not be helpful to broaden the scope of projects for your company? We are aware that there are what’s considered “Black brands” vs “pop culture.”
This divide exists because most brands exclude people of color. If I have a talented graphic designer who has primarily worked with “black brands” and their work reflects the hair textures or ideologies of black culture, their work should be valued just as much as their white counterparts.
Unfortunately, talent like this often gets overlooked and categorized as “too urban” or “not a cultural fit.” We recycle the same content instead of mirroring the reality of society. We all have a story, and we have the right to share it authentically. Placing value on one’s life experience over another is damaging.
But that’s not the only way that Corporate America is moving so slowly when it comes to creating more diverse teams. In the process of finding talent for a job posting, we do an intake call, starting off with one idea of “revolutionary talent,” but ultimately the search changes as the company goes back to seeking candidates that they’ve always had, white and male with the same perspectives.
Another point to make is that the wage gap still exists, and it is discouraging to speak to a talented marketer who is hired at a lower salary and takes a much longer time than their peers to reach a certain salary threshold. If we are moving forward to a more equitable future, companies must go back to the drawing board. The two previous problems prove that the search for more diverse candidates was an idea, not a plan of action for diversity or inclusivity.
As a black professional and as a recruiter, I have learned that doing your job well is not just based on your results, but equally on the vision of the client or hiring party. Internal conflicts around diversity and inclusion need to be addressed from the top down much like legislation.
We lead by example. Because the ideology behind talent marketing is to identify, create, and encourage top-tier talent to gravitate to the roles for the company, we have to set the tone. The resources we use in recruitment change depending on our search and in this case, we also need to change our perspective. The diversity we seek is not hidden. Choice is change. This responsibility leaves us all with a question, Corporate America, what are we working on, and are we really serious about it?
Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back in a week for our next guest post.
CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay.
Until recently, marketers have been able to reliably look at past holiday performance as a strong starting point to build their email strategy for the next. But this year? Not so much.
Retailers and researchers alike have scrutinized consumer behavior closely since March, looking for trends and changes in shopping patterns. This report title from WARC, based on panel data and insight from media firm Meredith, sums up the general direction of most of the research so far: “Meredith predicts consumers will use e-commerce to drive an earlier, quieter 2020 holiday season.”
The 10 statistics below show a combination of two big trends: Consumer behavior shifted significantly in the first seven months of 2020, but marketers can still base their planning on a few fundamentals.
1. 48% of holiday shoppers expect to spend less to “a lot less” than last year. Nonretail services like dining out will be affected most. (Coresight)
2. One-third of holiday shoppers expect to do their shopping on Amazon Prime Day, which is expected to be in October. Another 28% said they will start their holiday shopping earlier than usual, 18% said they would shop on Black Friday (Coresight)
3. The proportion of consumers avoiding any kind of public places, especially malls and shopping centers, spiked to 85% in late July, reversing a gradual decline (Coresight).
4. 73% of holiday shoppers will purchase primarily online this holiday (Netimperative/Rakuten).
5. More than 72% of consumers believe the 2020 holidays will be different from past years. (WARC/Meredith)
6. 50% of consumer families have someone concerned about a job. More than a third of them have already experienced some loss of income. (WARC/Meredith)
7. July, August and September have the highest rates of shopper interaction with customer reviews, photos, and questions and answers as they research gifts online. (NetImperative/BazaarVoice)
8. October is the month when shoppers are most likely to submit reviews and questions as they intensify their gift shopping. (NetImperative/BazaarVoice)
9. Retailers’ loyalty-program members generate 12% to 18% more revenue for retailers than non-member customers (Accenture Interactive).
10. 36.4% of consumers say they don’t consider themselves brand loyal until they’ve made five or more purchases from a brand, and 36.5% of shoppers said they will spend more on products if they’re loyal to a brand. (Yotpo).
Most of the evidence points toward an unpredictable, difficult holiday season for email marketers, right at a time they’re under more pressure than ever to drive results and make up for lost time. Creative, innovative measures will be needed to stand out in a crowded inbox, keep revenue flowing, and stay essential to your team.
Download the 2020 Holiday Email Lookbook for ideas and inspiration to update your email strategy for a new kind of holiday season. You’ll get actionable tips and examples to help you pursue revenue growth, engagement, and efficiency when it’s needed most.
In a normal year, many email marketers would be hard at work right now planning strategy and campaigns for the holiday shopping season. But these days it’s hard enough planning a campaign just a week or two out, let alone three to six months in the future.
And nothing’s more frustrating than scrambling to replace a campaign you had to scrap because something went wrong at the last minute—except, perhaps, scrambling in damage control mode as you realize a campaign you just sent has incorrect or outdated information.
This year, with so much riding on a successful holiday season, you must be able to plan campaigns knowing your hard work and creativity won’t be wasted if conditions change unexpectedly. But how can you do it without pulling your team off other projects to create and test hasty replacements?
Here’s the not-so-secret secret: Dynamic content that you can swap out as needed will keep your messages fresh and up to date no matter when your customers open them.
Dynamic content lets you update messaging and creative in emails at any time. It’s as easy as changing out a header image on your website, and updates can be automated or made manually depending on the situation.
You probably know about some tried-and-true uses of dynamic content, like a map that shows your customers where to find your nearest stores. These days, with businesses opening and closing at short notice according to government requirements, that feature is more essential than ever. But dynamic content can do so much more, keeping all your hard work and holiday planning as evergreen as the finest tannenbaum.
Need some holiday email marketing ideas? We just came out with a new guide, the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook, which is filled with ways to use dynamic content to boost revenue, help your team work smarter and build customer engagement that makes your brand your customers’ reliable source for easy holiday shopping.
Here are three tips from the Lookbook you can use right away to create campaigns that will stay relevant and usable months after you create them:
1. Give customers a gift they can open again and again
Keep your subscribers clicking on your emails with a multiple-day, multi-touch campaign that highlights different limited-time promotions (like a “Twelve Days of Christmas” campaign with last-minute gift ideas).
Dynamic content ensures that each subscriber sees only your current offer, no matter which email they open or when they open it. It ends the frustration customers feel at clicking on a tempting offer, only to find themselves shut out when they reach your website.
2. Make the moment unforgettable
Whenever you have a big event coming up, like your Black Friday kickoff or a VIP gathering at local stores, include an “Add to Calendar” function in your email invite.
With just a couple of taps, your customers can add your event to their calendars. They’ll even get a personalized reminder when it’s time to show up!
3. Reduce your follow-up workload
Expired offers and out-of-stocks are some of the hazards that go along with the harried holiday shopping season, but they don’t have to be business as usual in your email messages. And, in this year of disruption and uncertainty, you could be dealing with other issues like merchandise delays and regional business disruptions, too.
So, use dynamic content to update your outdated email automatically with correct information. Your customers will see only the updated content whenever they open the email – even after you send it! Your team won’t have to spend time on follow-up emails or even the dreaded “Oops!” apology email. This gives your subscribers a better experience with your brand, too.
Your copy of the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook is as close as a click. It’s free and filled with great tips to help you leverage the power of dynamic content and moment of open technology for more relevant and engaging email.
The Beauty industry has a long history of resilience and providing comfort in difficult times. As far back as the Great Depression, people who couldn’t afford expensive treatments could still often pop for Tangee or Max Factor lipsticks for a little help feeling special.
This “lipstick effect” holds true in 2020 as the $75 billion U.S. beauty industry scrambles to make up losses during the coronavirus pandemic. DIY and self-care purchases have helped push online beauty sales up 20% to 30% over 2019, according to McKinsey, after most retail outlets closed.
The digital surge alone won’t be enough to make up the losses from store shutdowns and lower traffic to essential businesses, McKinsey projects. However, the move to digital could signal a long-lasting change for the beauty industry, where up to 85% of beauty sales happened in stores previously.
That’s why marketers must be ready to use all the digital channels at their disposal to stay connected with customers, today and in the future when retail operations begin to ramp up again. In particular, email’s cost-effectiveness and flexibility makes it a prime medium to serve as the foundation for digital relationship building.
Beauty marketers looking for advice can turn to a new Liveclicker guide, Preparing for the New Normal in Beauty: Preparing and Scaling Digital Customer Communications, for quarter-by-quarter strategies, campaign guidance and a new set of best practices that will help them respond effectively when customers are ready to return.
Unlike the Depression or the 2008 recession, today’s “Great Cessation” is a double whammy: an economic crisis driven by a health crisis. “Business as usual” is a long way off, and we might not fully return to pre-pandemic conditions for some time, if ever.
“Be prepared to adapt your hard-earned brand voice. Beauty products have long enjoyed a status as a fun, accessible indulgence, but even as commerce picks up, customers will be watching their money much more closely,” the guide advises.
As a beauty marketer, you must be prepared to switch up messages as conditions warrant – especially in an environment that changes so fast. Email is ideal for this because you can get your messages in front of your customers quickly and tailor them by regions where conditions might vary.
Near-term: Use email to keep customers in the loop about store policies on safety, managing returns, gift cards or loyalty points that expired while stores were closed, delivery or supply disruptions (see the example below), options for low- or no-contact deliveries and payment and other key issues. Look for ways to build trust with new customers and maintain it with long-time and loyal buyers.
Longer term: The months leading up to the holiday shopping can be a time to clear out inventory that built up in slower months. Acknowledge that many customers still face economic hardship. Explain how customers can shop in-store, online, in an app or by phone.
This Tarte email promotes the payment plan AfterPay with the subject line: “for when you’re on a budget💸💸💸.”
Download your copy of Preparing for the New Normal in Beauty: Preparing and Scaling Digital Customer Communications for more strategies like these, along with detailed holiday season guidance.
The changes we’ve gone through since March mean your traditional beauty industry marketing playbook now needs a total makeover. The best advice? “Assume nothing.”
The “new normal” of the moment has generated several new best practices, like these:
Although no one’s certain yet what life will be like in the next year or so, the best advice is to remain flexible. Advanced personalization and real-time content combined with email allow you to pivot your messages swiftly, using customer data and moment of open technology.
One example: notifying local customers about a store opening. Many retailers will roll out store openings gradually based on local conditions. Create emails that adapt to location data to let customers in a specific store’s market area know the store is open and what to expect when they get there.
Nobody says navigating these next month will be easy as we watch how the pandemic moves and where economic recovery is advancing or lagging. McKinsey even suggests we might not begin to see a recovery until early 2022.
In this environment, tools that allow your email strategies to turn on a dime if conditions change suddenly and scale up personalization to keep communications meaningful and relevant are no longer “nice to have.” They’re an essential part of a modern email program that puts customers first – something that is more important than ever today and on into the future.
The cruise industry was one of the first to feel the full effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. Interest in cruising remains high, however. Cruise lines that can capitalize on that interest until departure day is safe once again are best positioned to endure through their toughest season in decades.
Innovative use of email will be a key asset for cruise line marketing teams working hard to reassure and engage passengers, update messages swiftly and create more personalized, relevant campaigns faster and more cost-effectively. Its cost effectiveness and flexibility offer marketers a powerful combo to continue engaging future passengers and weather the storm.
So far in 2020, bookings for 2021 cruises are up 40% over the same time in 2019, a representative of Cruisecompete.com told the Los Angeles Times. Only 11% of those bookings were from people whose 2020 cruises were canceled, she said.
The demand for bookings, although a year out, is a bright spot in an industry that effectively shut down by government order, and it indicates that cruise passengers are still interested in sightseeing by water. Though there’s still uncertainty about how COVID and the resulting economic difficulties will play out, there’s reason to be hopeful for the future.
A traditional single-note “Book This Cruise” message will likely not be enough to bring back a large swath of the cruise-going public. Cruise marketing must adjust to new expectations and concerns, address a changing lineup of passenger worries, and respond when conditions change unexpectedly.
“We have seen consumers, at this stage, be more health-sensitive than price-sensitive,” Robert Li, director of the U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism and Hospitality Research at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, told the Los Angles Times.
A new Liveclicker guide, Email Marketing for Cruise Lines: Finding the Layline to Success through Personalization, gives marketers a quarter-by-quarter playbook of recommendations for sending emails that keep up with and even anticipate passengers’ interests and concerns.
Near-term email campaigns can focus on reassuring both passengers and cruise shoppers about health and safety measures and supporting passengers who booked on canceled or delayed cruises.
Reminding passengers of the good times they enjoyed on earlier voyages can keep the focus on positive developments for people who remain interested in cruising but aren’t ready to book yet.
That’s why this email from Celebrity Cruises stands out. The message, sent to repeat passengers and loyalty program members, uses advanced personalization to pull in important data to populate a fond reminiscence about past travels. But beyond its friendly walk down Memory Lane, the email also uses a small but noticeable call to action to prompt the recipients to check out current deals.
As the weeks go on and shopper focus switches from seeking reassurance to getting back on board, cruise marketing should evolve to nudge browsers into booking. Promoting deals and low prices to spur bookings is one approach, as Royal Caribbean demonstrates:
Notice something unusual about that Royal Caribbean email? It shows the real-time weather report for the next 5 days in the Bahamas, one of the destinations featured in the email.
But here’s something you don’t see: Every time the email recipient opens the message, she’ll see an updated forecast, no matter how long after the company sent the email.
Real-time dynamic content that updates content at the moment of open is more than an interesting “nice to have” feature. It’s a critical tool for any industry in which everything can change in just a few seconds, from schedules and offers to regulations and operating conditions.
It’s also one of the recommendations in Liveclicker’s guide to help marketers save time and money by reducing the steps needed to build and send highly personalized and effective email campaigns.
Download your copy of Email Marketing for Cruise Lines: Finding the Layline to Success through Personalization to learn how advanced personalization, adaptive content and moment-of-open technology can help cruise marketers can send email with confidence and give passengers and shoppers a better email experience without adding team members spending precious time building and sending follow-up email campaigns.
These recommendations will help you strengthen relationships and drive business in today’s turbulent journey and shore up your foundation as you move into your “next normal.” May it come with fair winds and following seas!
Congratulations to Sandra Cordero, CRM manager for women’s apparel retailer Torrid, the 2020 winner of the Email Experience Council’s 2020 Stefan Pollard Award. Sandra is a good friend to Liveclicker, and her work and leadership are well-deserving of this honor.
The Pollard Award is the most prestigious award in the email industry. What makes it unique among industry awards is that the email marketers who win it not only have to develop innovative campaigns but must also show that their strategies and tactics drive real results for their companies.
That’s what Sandra was able to do with Torrid since she joined the women’s apparel retailer in 2016. Working closely with her team and Liveclicker, Sandra has proved again and again how innovation in email can drive revenue and performance for her company.
Her initiatives have contributed to a 44% increase in redemption rate and a 44% increase in revenue from digitizing Torrid’s omnichannel bounceback program. The email program itself has seen a 119% increase in total program revenue over that time, representing consistent double-digit growth year over year.
“Working with Sandra and her team has been a reward in itself. She has an eye toward innovation and improvement that leaves no stone unturned. She’s so deserving of this award, and Torrid has the email performance to prove it,” Brooke Schommer, Account Development Manager who has worked closely with Sandra, says.
Sandra isn’t the only Liveclicker client whose work was recognized this year by the EEC. Faith Bukauskus of Hot Topic was an award finalist as well.
“Faith exhibits a fantastic can-do spirit that brings success to every project she touches, and has driven so much success for Hot Topic with her email programs,” Brooke says.
As a strong supporter of email for more than three years, Faith has driven double-digit returns in annual growth for the last two years. She reinvigorated Hot Topic’s email initiatives program and re-engineered the Black Friday plan, which included sending more activity-based personalized messages earlier in the season to warm up clients.
If you follow our blog or read our case studies and white papers, you’ve seen the innovative ways both Torrid and Hot Topic have used advanced personalization and moment of open technology to make their emails more engaging, useful and compelling for their customers.
One of Sandra’s big successes was a total makeover of Torrid’s loyalty program that included developing a monthly rewards statement with personalized content based on behavior and rewards for members at each tier of the program. Customers love the email – it generates over-the-top opens and clicks – and have come to rely on it to track their status in the loyalty program.
Hot Topic was able to use dynamic content to solve a perennial problem – email recipients who click through on a tempting offer, only to find the product sold out or the promotion had expired. The brand now uses dynamic images and moment of open technology to substitute new images or offers if the original ones are no longer available.
Stefan’s friends and co-workers remember him as a tireless supporter of email innovations that produce better experiences for customers and stronger results for brands, as well as email education to improve the entire practice of email marketing.
We think he would be proud of Sandra and Faith and how they have adopted new uses of technology to create better experiences for their customers and their brands.
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!
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.
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:
Your Weekly Reminders leading up to launch day build anticipation by featuring:
And last but not least, your Post-Event Communications empower you to:
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.”
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:
“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.”
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!
There’s a lot to be learned from the past and the experience of others—building off their successes and learning from their mistakes. In this 2 Wins and a Fail blog series, we’re inviting clients, partners, friends and thought leaders to share their email marketing stories; both good and bad.
In this edition, we’re speaking with the CRM + Email experts from Tinuiti, an award-winning marketing agency that partners with brands to deliver strategy, management, and results across their entire digital business.
Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team works with brands of all sizes to scale their email marketing programs and drive results. Their ecommerce clients cover a diverse mix of industries and come with varying levels of sophistication in their email marketing programs, meaning there’s few things in the email marketing industry the Tinuiti team of email strategists haven’t encountered. But even the experts aren’t perfect. Two of these email marketing strategy examples generated positive results for Tinuiti’s partners, while one didn’t go exactly as planned.
Abby Siciliano, Senior Strategist
A common pain point for brands trying to scale their email marketing programs can be summed up in one word: bandwidth. So when Headline Shirts was looking for new and innovative ways to bring content to subscribers at scale, Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team instantly thought of live content.
“Coupling the goals and live content together, we created exactly what the email program needed.”
The cheeky t-shirt brand wanted to create content to show off their designs and keep up with their new release production schedule. So, Senior Strategist Abby Siciliano set out to find the right tool to support this enhancement with the following goals:
CRM & Email Senior Strategist, Abby Siciliano summarized the project: “Coupling the goals and live content together, we created exactly what the email program needed.”
The new arrivals live content email is made up of 3 parts:
Leveraging the Live Scrape functionality from Liveclicker, Tinuiti was able to pull in the top new arrivals directly from headlineshirts.net with ease. Now, Headline Shirts has evergreen, reusable content that updates upon open – eliminating the need for additional bandwidth to update before every send. With some simple seasonal tweaks, they’re able to keep this content fresh and engaging while driving strong revenue.
Since launching, this campaign was consistently a top 3 revenue-driver for the program month after month.
Stacy Strom, Senior Strategist
In the day and age of tech-savvy shoppers, customers have more options than ever and are shopping around more frequently. While Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team is no stranger to a variety of customer retention methods, they’ve had to get creative for clients that don’t have the funds and resources to pull off the most ideal of strategies – a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs provide a tried and true method of retaining customers and growing brand affinity, even when competitors may be lower priced or more convenient. These programs fulfill the need for customers to feel like they are being rewarded for spending hard-earned dollars with a company. Unfortunately, these programs can come with a steep price tag for businesses, both monetarily speaking and when considering the resources required to maintain the technical integrations involved.
“Two retail clients in particular saw an incremental $10K in revenue for the month from VIP targeted campaigns.”
Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team devised a plan to test the loyalty waters with several clients through clever segmentation and creative approaches that didn’t come with any additional cost.
“Through the use of VIP treatment in email marketing campaigns, we were able to prove the value of a loyalty program for our clients,” says Stacy Strom, Senior Strategist and lead for a variety of clients at Tinuiti. “We’ve tested this concept in a variety of ways for several clients and all have produced incremental revenue and growth in LTV for customers. Recently, two retail clients in particular saw an incremental $10K in revenue for the month from VIP targeted campaigns.”
VIPs can be defined in a number of ways: frequency of purchases, frequency of engagement with marketing campaigns, acquisition source, total spend, etc. and should be based off of your business’s goals and benchmarks for performance. For retail clients, Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team has seen great success with basing VIP segmentation on a combination of purchase history and engagement frequency. With Tinuiti’s approach to this concept, you can provide almost all the perks of a typical loyalty program without the point liability that could impact profit margins.
So how do you show your VIPs red-carpet treatment without paying for a loyalty platform? With careful timing of promotions, VIP early access to sales, and VIP sale extensions. These give customers that are frequently engaged a sense of exclusivity and special treatment. This is executed through simple versioning of email creative; from headlines changes to call out “just for you” to subject line updates that use “exclusive access” to entice opens to elevated creative that uses richer color palettes such as gold and black.
Overall, this approach has led to great success across a variety of clients. With the most successful of these, Tinuiti’s CRM &+ Email team has even launched versioned triggered campaigns based on VIP segmentation for successful programs such as Post Purchase, Browse Abandon, and Cart Abandon. These programs have seen not only strong revenue performance, but also an average lift of 20% in engagement rates compared to those without VIP treatment.
Mandi Moshay, Associate Director
While Tinuiti’s CRM + Email team strives to operate as an extension of their clients’ internal teams, the nature of the client-agency partnership doesn’t always lend itself to the immediate exchange of information. Such was the case when one of the agency’s long-time partners, an online lingerie retailer, had an issue with their website that was causing the submission of orders to time out.
“In client service there’s no time to dwell on what might’ve been, so our team quickly pivoted toward potential paths forward to recoup lost revenue and rebuild trust with the impacted customers.”
By the time the issue was identified and the client was able to notify their Tinuiti team, that morning’s email had already deployed. The message, highlighting the release of a new seasonal collection, began driving traffic to a site that could not process orders, diminishing the anticipated return on the email campaign and upsetting potential customers.
“It’s a frustrating experience,” said Mandi Moshay, Associate Director and lead strategist on the account. “Once you deploy an email campaign, it’s out there and there’s no taking it back. But in client service there’s no time to dwell on what might’ve been, so our team quickly pivoted toward potential paths forward to recoup lost revenue and rebuild trust with the impacted customers.”
The Tinuiti team immediately knew an apology email was in order. “Any time the purchase process is interrupted – whether due to a broken link or site error – we strongly consider an apology email, both to let the customer know how sorry we are for the negative site experience, and to motivate them to come back and complete their purchase once the issue has been resolved.” Mandi and team began strategizing with the client on the best approach to take once the order submission issue was resolved.
After agreeing on an incentive of 20% off for impacted customers, the Tinuiti creative team set to work to quickly turn a banner that could be added to the top of that morning’s email creative, conveying the apology and the promotion. To control margin, the Tinuiti team recommended only mailing to contacts who had clicked through the original email and were potentially exposed to the checkout error. Finally, an eye-catching subject line and preheader were drafted to grab the attention of affected subscribers and get them back in the mood to shop.
Fortunately, this fail turned into a win after the apology email was deployed and generated a 66% open rate (compared to a program average of ~15%), and drove nearly 4x times the revenue/delivered of the brand’s standard product launch campaigns. The total revenue between the original message and the apology exceeded product launch averages by 65%!
There’s a lot to be learned from the past and the experience of others—building off their successes and learning from their mistakes. In this 2 Wins and a Fail blog series, we’re inviting clients, partners, friends and thought leaders to share their email marketing stories; both good and bad.
In this edition we highlight Faith Bukauskas, Senior Email Marketing Analyst for Hot Topic, and show how this pop culture retailer improved its email marketing results with three innovative real-time personalization strategies. Two of these email marketing examples exceeded expectations; and while the third didn’t go exactly as planned, Hot Topic has already learned how to adapt and find success with future campaigns.
Hot Topic has been the go-to destination for music, pop culture, and fashion for almost 30 years. With more than 600 locations across North America, the brand strives to ignite customers’ passions by offering only the best, authentic merchandise. Faith has worked on the organization’s email program for 3 years, and her stories and experiences hold valuable takeaways for marketers in retail, ecommerce, and CPG industries.
Hot Topic is rapidly expanding its ecommerce presence and relies heavily on digital channels, especially email marketing, to showcase its giant assortment of products to its loyal fans and customers.
Recently Hot Topic needed a new way to develop and deploy product-centric emails that were not just personalized, but could be updated in real time to deliver better customer experiences.
In the past, Hot Topic sent product promotion emails as soon as a particular product became available on its ecommerce site. But sometimes these products would sell out before all recipients opened the email (or even received it, depending on what time zone they were in).
“It was a negative customer experience,” Faith said. “The experience confused and frustrated subscribers who weren’t able to act fast enough to get the product they wanted.”
Hot Topic’s marketing team considered sending these emails earlier so they would be in everyone’s inbox before their day started—no matter what time zone they were in. Yet they were concerned that customers would forget to act on them. Even if they didn’t, the original challenge remained: customers might still open an email with a link to a product that was now sold out.
A solution was found in the form of dynamic real-time content from Liveclicker’s RealTime Email platform.
“We designed a comprehensive time-based targeting strategy to handle this issue and deliver a better experience,” Faith said. “ We started using a dynamic image when announcing a product was now available in stores. Then when the product also became available online, we used moment-of-open technology to swap in a new image with that message and provide a link to encourage online shopping. And we also had a third ‘grayed out’ image prepared for when a product was out of stock, so openers knew whether something was available at the moment they opened the email.”
Hot Topic quickly discovered that this time-based strategy was a hit. These new emails produced a 30% lift in clicks, and Hot Topic saw a significant increase in click rates after the image was switched to show a new product was now available for purchase.
Customers were much more engaged and now spent twice as much time viewing each email. Recipients now clicked before, during, and after a product went on sale; an improvement that generated new sales and revenue opportunities, especially in the case of customers who visited Hot Topic’s site before a specific product was even available.
The single biggest success metric was the reduction in customers complaining about receiving promotions for products that were already unavailable. Hot Topic has seen such improvement that they now believe they have virtually eliminated the problem on email.
Hot Topic sells an incredible variety of pop culture-branded merchandise, including Harry Potter products. The retailer used to send all Harry Potter product offers to fans based on their past purchases of any and all Harry Potter merchandise.
Yet this approach still wasn’t segmented enough; large fan bases are often split among different styles and preferences. Which band member is most talented? Who’s the coolest character in the movie? Which book is the best in the series? Such questions can divide as much as they unite.
One way the Harry Potter fans are split is among their school ‘House’ affiliation (Gryffindor, Slytherin, etc.), and that can have a huge influence on the type of merchandise they want. Customer service even noted an increase in customer complaints. If you’re a baseball fan, compare it to a sports retailer sending Red Sox fans personalized offers for Yankees jerseys. You can imagine the kind of response that would get.
“We wanted to improve overall segmentation for the fan base, but didn’t have the data to accurately divide this group,” Faith said. “So we did the most obvious thing we could think of: we asked them!”
The brand did this by embedding a poll in an email asking about subscribers’ house loyalty. This equipped Hot Topic with the data it needed to segment its list and improve future relevance, and minimized errors that might have occurred if they had to make assumptions based on click-stream or purchase data.
All of these efforts paid off. Where past Harry Potter control emails had a 10% open rate and a 1.2% CTR, Hot Topic’s new house-specific emails had open rates up to 36% and CTRs of nearly 5%. This represented improvements of 260% and 300+%, respectively.
The poll email was Hot Topic’s third-highest email in terms of highest clicks sent in 2018. The company also saw more than a 90% increase on average in click-to-open. In fact, this was so successful, the company is now considering new ways to use Liveclicker’s LivePoll element to increase explicit data from its customers, which can then be used to improve future targeting campaigns.
Hot Topic freely admits that the use of geotargeting has been a challenge, especially since a significant portion of their database is made up of Gmail users. Gmail prevents geolocation information from being recognized and instead shows all users as being in Mountain View, California.
Hot Topic’s marketing team initially wanted to deploy an email campaign that would use geotargeting to send personalized messages to recipients near the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con event.
“It was a really cool idea,” Faith said. “We had all this location-specific messaging and creative that would be perfect for anyone who opened the email within a certain proximity to the event. Unfortunately technical limitations with Gmail meant we had to table that strategy. We ended up serving the default message in email even though we went through the work of creating the segmented campaign and creative.”
As a result, Hot Topic missed out on valuable opportunity to deliver personalized content that was more likely to connect and engage with its target audience.
Fortunately, good news is on the horizon. Hot Topic is planning on taking advantage of new Liveclicker functionality that will be able to anticipate a recipient’s location at time of open based on past behavior.
Since activating on Geo-Prediction in the last few months, there have been 1.3 million impressions that have been predicted by LiveClicker. This means geo-centric content and promotions can be sent to Gmail users, along with personalized messages that can even be further targeted based on their operating system, device type, and other factors.
We would like to sincerely thank Faith Bukauskas and Hot Topic for sharing these great stories and examples. For more information, you can download the complete Hot Topic case study and subscribe to Hot Topic yourself for more inspiration (and great deals!).