By Anne Holland, President
As reviewed in the new book 'The Breakaway Brand: The Secrets Behind 50 of the World's Most Successful Brands,' Royal Caribbean's interactive cruise planner is one of the coolest landing pages of 2005.
But does a cool landing page really convince more email recipients to book cruises?
I called up Sherpa reader Michal Suarez, who is Royal Caribbean's Interactive Marketing Account Exec, to get the true inside story on this email campaign. Here are my notes, plus a link to the creative so you can see for yourself.
January is the "infamous wave season" for cruise marketers because you need to launch eye-opening campaigns to get people into the consideration cycle for a vacation they'll actually take as long as 6-9 months later on.
So, January emails have to be *really* high impact to get that sustained interest going.
This year's campaign featured extremely simple creative -- only 19 words of copy, a logo image and the image of a "leather cruise planner." (I suspect super-clean email creative, with no extraneous words or images, can be far more powerful than typical cluttered emails.)
The landing page featured the planner, now opened up, with handwritten notes, cards, and funky hotlinks to click on. We did a Case Study on a similar campaign from the San Francisco Convention & Visitor's Center, and their results were astonishing.
My favorite part of Royal Caribbean's landing page: loads of response devices in a stable area at the bottom of the screen. You could respond in your choice of phone, email, tell a friend, search and "hot deals" click link.
Results? According to Michal, the campaign was a big hit overall. Plus:
- The average visitor spent 2 1/2 minutes on the landing page. (Yes, that's long for this type of campaign.)
-> Most popular sections were the "hot deals" and watching the video. Michal suspects the video viewers were more in the cruise-newbie demographic who wanted education more than ticket offers.
-> Of viral options, send a friend a postcard won out over 'tell-a-friend' but Michal says she's glad she offered both because both had their fans.
-> Consumers who initially join the list when responding to sweeps offers for cruises tend to be extremely good prospects for cruises. This runs very much contrary to almost every other industry's experiences and even startles Michal's team.
Best stealable idea
Instead of running the campaign once and then retiring it, Michal added it into her email opt-in welcome series for the rest of 2005. New opt-ins get a standard text-only message via autoresponder within minutes of sign-up. Then seven days later, they automatically get the HTML email with the interactive planner hotlink.
It's a great idea -- hit prospects with your highest-impact campaign of the year at a time when in their own personal sales cycle they are more likely to be extremely interested in you. Here's a link to Royal Caribbean's creative samples: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/royalcar/study.html
BTW: That San Francisco story is here: http://library.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=254
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