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Apple Vacations’ renovated email program increases engagement, return shoppers

Travel company Apple Vacations took some much-needed time to renovate its email program to increase its engagement percentage by segmenting its system, said an Apple Vacations executive member during a session at eTail East 2014. For a significant change to take place, the marketing team began by breaking down categories of each email subscriber to get a better idea of how to target its customers.

“We needed to optimize engagement with relevant messaging,” said Kristine Potter, vice president of ecommerce and consumer marketing at Apple Vacations, Philadelphia.

Steps to success
The team began by performing customer analysis tests to better understand which customers were most frequently reading Apple Vacations’ emails. They found that 62 percent of subscribers were not engaged.

Then, the team began segmented messaging. For example, if users opened an email, visited the site and put a trip into their wish list, Apple Vacations would then follow up in a number of days to remind them and offer an additional promotion.

Ms. Potter and her team tested a number of different subject lines to see which ones resonated most effectively. They would alter each subject based on the type of subscriber, such as new opt-ins, engaged and non-engaged subscribers and bookers.

As the team continued to personalize content and frequency based on each user, they also slightly turned its focus to providing information instead of solely aiming to sell, so they began to provide editorial-focused content, such as the top ten locations to go scuba diving.

The entire process became a lifecycle of messaging, from learning about the particular customer and his or her likes to targeting offers based on previous purchases.

A personalized experience
Several brands spoke at eTail East of their renovated email programs.

While the success of email programs heavily depends on relevancy to the consumer, athletic wear brand Lululemon deemed mobile optimization as being the main key at the Email Marketing Summit at eTail East 2014.

In addition to mobile optimization and relevancy, measuring revenue based on the number of emails sent is the best way to gauge success in email efforts. A good number to aim for is anywhere from three to 10 percent of revenue per email sent (see story).

Similarly, US-Mattress is seeking to improve the segmentation of its email marketing campaigns, which should help the furniture retailer better direct those shoppers who open them on mobile devices toward an information site as opposed to the ecommerce portion of the site.

The company recently selected Silverpop, an email marketing company owned by IBM, to manage its email campaigns. With this new enterprise solution, US-Mattress will have much better visibility into email open rates on different devices (see story).

While customers have multiple and very simple ways of engaging with their favorite brands, businesses can better deliver appealing content by learning about its customers.

“Customers expect more from us than they ever have before, so we need to build a relationship with them,” Ms. Potter said.

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York