December 09, 2015
Case Study

Email Marketing 2015: The top 8 MarketingSherpa case studies for your email program next year

SUMMARY: For marketers, 2015 was about the customer journey. From testing to content designed for your customer's purchase path, it's clear that understanding and anticipating customers' needs is key to a productive email program.

Read on for the best advice and wisdom your peers have gathered over the past year, and learn how to apply these tactics to your own email program in 2016.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content

In 2014, marketers put their focus on the customer. This past year has been a continuation of that, with marketers discovering exactly what putting the customer first means in the long-term. Marketers have done this by breaking down team barriers within their companies to develop the customer journey through relevant content, intelligent and consistent testing, as well as expanding program capabilities.

The following eight case studies are the lessons, tactics and stories of how marketers have focused on and built out customer journeys to achieve long-term email program transformations with positive results.

Tactic #1. Develop relevant content for every customer journey

Email Segmentation: 40% average open rate via relevant content journey

When you become a trusted advisor to your prospects, how can you deliver the most relevant content to them?

TechnologyAdvice, a consultative service with a goal of helping businesses find the best technology solutions for their needs, appeals to a wide range of customers in different verticals. Sending targeted content for specific industries, solutions and other customer factors would be an overwhelming task for any team to manually handle.

In this case study, learn how the brand turned to marketing automation to set up various segments and created content to appeal to each buyer and their location in the sales journey partially by collaborating with the Sales team.

"Sometimes it is really easy to get side-loaded. Sales is working on their stuff. Marketing is working on their stuff. Sometimes weeks go by and you haven't talked to each other. This is an opportunity for a collaborative effort, so that makes it exciting … It’s not just about sending people through a drip list," Jordan Schneider, Director of Marketing, TechnologyAdvice, said.

Email Marketing: Ecommerce retailer increases email revenue 71% with personalized content layout

The marketing team at ecommerce fitness retailer The Clymb had a wealth of great content, but wasn’t leveraging customer data to optimize revenue generation and drive lifetime customer value. They wanted to create a personalized experience for each individual email subscriber by combining email and on-site behavioral data.

The marketing team began aggressively working to personalize the email program. Going into the effort, Sarah Lewis, Email Marketing Manager, The Clymb, said the team wanted to improve revenue, but "beyond that we really just wanted to get our customers more engaged. And we thought that we could do that by catering directly to them using information that we knew about what they were interested in."

The team enlisted a vendor, aligned the technology and readjusted the system for collecting data in order to utilize it for greater relevance.

Alongside updating the email template to highlight personalized content, they added a robust tagging system to the website to learn more about the interest data of members, a group that consists of both email and non-email subscribers.

Read this case study to see how the team was able to increase email revenue 71% with this personalized email strategy.

Email Marketing: Marriott's Year in Review send helps increase revenue 86% year-over-year

"It felt like we had the opportunity to really do something that was much more really member-centric and really use all the data that we've got on our members and present it to them in an interesting, fun way that they might not expect from us," Clark Cummings, Senior Manager of Member Marketing, Marriott International, said when describing Marriott's Year in Review campaign.

According to Cummings, the creative team at Marriott International worked to create themed content, which was then released throughout each month. During one of these creative meetings, Cummings and the team decided to come up with a year-end send to go out to their Marriott Rewards newsletter list. Cummings saw this end of the year send as an opportunity to create something customer-centric.

Learn how, through member data and providing a customer-centric, non-transaction based email touchpoint, a single send from Marriott International contributed to a year-over-year 86% increase in revenue for the month of December.

Tactic #2. Vigorously test what works for your customers

Email Marketing: How content and testing boosted revenue 114% at IAC subsidiary HomeAdvisor

When HomeAdvisor rebranded itself in 2012, the marketing team was sending to a very large, yet stale, list of subscribers. With sends in spam folders across major ISPs, the team set up a strict send segment and began testing relevant content that would grow engagement.

"As a part of our rebranding effort, we really wanted to connect with our customers on a new level. We completely relaunched our consumer email marketing programs with goals of staying top of mind, being a trusted adviser and driving content that was relevant and engaging for our subscribers," Jill McEwan, Director of Direct Advertising, Home Advisor, said.

In transitioning from a cookie-cutter newsletter to one that evolved through rigorous testing, the marketing team was able to rescue its low deliverability rate and completely relaunch its consumer email marketing program.

Read this case study to see how Home Advisor was able to assess program weak spots, grow the engaged list and build test strategies from the ground up to increase email-generated revenue by 114%.

Email Marketing: 37% decrease in email promotions results in 205% increase in open rates

Due to disparate systems that shackled CFO Publishing to a batch-and-blast email system, the marketing team moved all of their data into one system to begin necessary segmentation.

CFO Publishing is a leading voice in enterprise information and innovation. It provides thought leadership content that reaches senior finance and business executives across seven channels, including finance, big data, analytics, strategy, innovation, digital and operations.

To help with CFO’s database, email and analytics, the team moved all of their consumer data into one vendor system.

"It was amazing to see the visibility right away ... We were able to start putting some ... what they call 'governors' in place to make sure we didn't oversend to certain users," Danielle Balestra, Director of Marketing and Audience Development, CFO Publishing, said.

Balestra was also able to use automation to present relevant content without having to actually send customers an email. Using downloaded landing pages to populate content was a logical next step. With the flexibility to change the forms on those pages, the team began A/B testing elements such as text length and image size.

"We were sending a lot of email in 2013. Having the visibility into our sending analytics, we were able to hugely decrease the amount of sends," she said.

By segmenting customers based on behaviors and only sending to people who would find the emails to be relevant, the team was able to decrease sends by 37% while increasing content downloads and registrations by 35%.

Email Marketing: Education group utilizes A/B testing to increase open rates by 39%

Held back by a labor-intensive email service provider, the marketing team at Apollo Education Group, which provides online education to people around the world, was extremely limited in their testing capabilities.

After switching ESPs, the team was able to launch A/B tests to learn more about their customers and increase open rates by 39%.

Tactic #3. Expand your program’s capability to reach customers

Email Marketing: Ecommerce company expands email program and increases revenue 384%

At ecommerce provider of home fragrance products JewelScent’s inception in 2013, there was essentially no email marketing in place besides utilitarian transactional email: order confirmations and shipping tracking notifications.

Andrew Gambino, Director of Marketing and Analytics, JewelScent, and his team began working with existing customer data to build an internal email marketing program, the objective of which was to “really go with the customer-centric approach. All of us are customers of different brands, and we really took that into consideration when we were building our email practices."

He added, "What we wanted to do was make sure all of our touchpoints that we had [with customers] made sense and made the customer’s experience with our company just the best experience that we could come up with."

Read on to find out how JewelScent expanded its email program to increase order volume 478% and revenue 384% by including welcome series, cart abandonment campaigns and giveaway announcements.

Email Segmentation: Finish Line's automation initiative lifts email revenue 50%

To meet the needs of customers across a wide range of potential personas, Finish Line's email marketing communications were segmented to target specific audiences.

According to Aaron Buchanan, Digital Personalization Manager, Finish Line, in the beginning, the process was basic segmentation, sending out emails based on what areas of products a customer normally purchases.

However, the marketing team realized that they could be achieving much higher engagement rates by evolving their email campaigns by providing relevant content sent to the right audience.

The marketing team noted that every time a customer comes to the Finish Line website — which is hundreds of thousands of instances every day — each interaction is a customer trying to have a conversation with the brand.

"Each little interaction on the website has been telling us more and more about who they are and what they're interested in," Buchanan said.

Ultimately, the marketing team began looking into how they could tag the site to monitor all of these behaviors and develop a deeper understanding of the customers. In particular, the team was interested in behaviors when a customer clicks through an email and starting to derive some preferences so Finish Line can target them better.

Learn how the team took its basic segmentation practices to highly personalized, multichannel messaging, unifying email, on-site and mobile messaging, social media and display ads that drove email revenue up 50%.

To see live sessions by brand-side marketers on similar, measurable digital marketing success, visit MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, held February 22-24 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

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