Email Marketing Experiments by 3 Industry Leaders
Email marketing success requires boatloads of experimentation. COVID has shown brands and marketers what works best for them. And with every experiment, there are lessons to be learned. And in the ForTheLoveOfEmails virtual event, we hosted the session to understand and find out the lessons that a lot of our guest speakers had learned over time.
In this session, we hosted 4 marketers from renowned brands across Asia. We discuss the most important lessons that they've learned from their best and worst email campaigns in 2020.
- Vivek Elankannan - VP/Head of Digital Marketing & Strategy, Home Credit, Indonesia
- Mayank Singh - Head of Marketing, Technology & Digital, Domino’s Pizza, Indonesia
- Gopi Krishna Venigalla - Senior Manager, Flipkart
- Santosh Valecha - Global Head-Customer Success, Netcore Solutions
It's not the experiments, but the lessons that matter....
Since the wake of COVID this year, brands had to change a lot of their methods of working and reaching their customers. Most businesses that rely on the delivery workforce had to make a stop for the first few weeks.
As the governments of different countries gradually unlocked the intense lockdowns on multiple essential and non-essential products and services, businesses had to find ways to start working.
“Remember it's not the count of the experiments that were run, but the number of lessons learned. And how we can improvise using those lessons in our future experiments.”
Flipkart, Domino's Indonesia, and Home Credit Indonesia have run multiple experiments to identify what messages their customers will look at and engage with.
How messaging changed in 2020?
All brands and businesses know that things have changed a lot this year. There's no denying the fact. So we asked each of our speakers about the strategies that they incorporated during the lockdown to generate good sales.
Flipkart mentions emails now need to be more personalized.
Flipkart is an eCommerce company and an Amazon competitor in India. It initiated a few experiments when the lockdown was announced. It was a necessary strategy since the delivery of most goods was prohibited, except for a few essential products.
Here are a few changes that they implemented and experimented with, in their campaigns during the lockdown”
- The subject line tonality
- Color and design of emails
- Email structure
- Email volume
- The length of email based on the messaging
- User targeting based on existing engagement
The focus of sending out emails shifted to being a data-driven, ROI generation strategy.
Flipkart's focus was also on getting each campaign personalized to the level of predicting their most likely next-purchase. This was done by analyzing browsing behavior on-site and the device the user was browsing the website or application on.
Domino's follows a strictly data-driven approach
Domino's is a global pizza restaurant franchise, mostly known for its 30-minute delivery promise.
The food industry experienced the maximum impact and Domino's had to find a way to convey their message.
They have three pillars of communicating with their audience:
- Data-driven approach
- ROI Focus
- Content Personalization
Domino's wanted the consumers to know that the food was prepared in a safe manner and that the delivery was contactless. Along with this message, they also had to convey the discounts and offers.
To start off with, because there was an economic fall, and many people were losing their jobs, the company decided to put out their best offer to the consumers.
Buy 1 Get 3 free.
And the offer failed miserably!
Domino's later realized that most orders were smaller in quantity with 1 or 2 unique products per transaction.
Because there weren't a lot of people in a single house, people did not opt for the offer where they'd end up with 4 pizzas.
Instead, their offers on single products were working much better.
So that came down to the data-driven approach pillar and they optimized their future campaigns to send out more of the single product offers.
Home Credit creates value-add emails to increase engagement
Home Credit is a consumer durable finance company that offers loans on electronics and shopping. With the lockdown, malls and shopping centers were closed. Travel was restricted and people had no reason to spend money apart from purchasing essential goods.
The company adapted to the situation by getting users to onboard the platform, even if they're not planning to purchase anything right away.
One of their strategies was with the use of a "Credit score tracker". Customers were given the option to track their credit score from Home Credit's mobile app.
With this, the company gained more information about users and could better personalize offers for them in the long run.
“When things are uncertain, users want some assurance. And if we send out relevant content to them, they're highly likely to respond.”
So Home Credit not only shared personalized relevant content but also directed them to the mobile apps with strong Call-To-Action buttons.
Since the product was already mobile-friendly, transitioning the users to the application was not difficult.
Major Learnings from Experimental Campaigns
All of our panelists have run experiments that have either worked really well or failed really bad. And we asked them what were some of the most noteworthy campaigns that they'd love to highlight.
The Flipkart lockdown campaign
Flipkart ran an experimental campaign during the initial phases of the lockdown where all e-commerce delivery was prohibited.
Since customers could not make any purchase online or offline, the campaign was not aimed at selling or showcasing offers.
Instead, it was about staying safe during the lockdown. The campaign was named "21 days of lockdown" and every day, Flipkart sent out an email suggesting new and interesting activities for the day.
At that point, people were not sure how long the lockdown would continue and that is why this campaign worked perfectly well to fit the message.
The campaign was really simple with a graphic and 2-3 lines of text. It was well-received across audiences from social media and other platforms as well.
Home Credit plays with longer subject lines
Most email marketers shy away from longer subject lines. They believe through experimentation that shorter ones work as they convey the full message without being cut off.
In our upcoming benchmark report 2020, we performed an analysis based on subject line lengths and how they correlate to open rates, and here’s what we found:
However, when the lockdown started and the likelihood of people buying something dropped, Home Credit decided to play around with their email marketing.
What they did was go completely against the fair practice, and hit the 60 character subject line limit for all their emails.
“A lot of people talk about using shorter subject lines and that may work well for them. But when we tried longer subject lines that cut off before the end, we received a much higher open and click-through rate”.
Another experiment that they run was through targeted personalization.
This wasn't the regular first name or last name personalization that we find easy to do with our advanced email tools.
Instead, they dived deep into the user profiles and identified attributions that could predict what a person's next purchase could be.
“We looked for people who had probably purchased a phone a year or two ago. We then sent them personalized emails with long subject lines that offered a discount on a new phone.”
Because the subject line already struck curiosity, and the users became more likely to click on these email CTAs.
Domino's - 2 Campaigns Experiment
Sending out an email-a-day already sounds like we’re going overboard.
But Mayank mentioned an experiment they tried where they were sending out an email campaign every day, in the morning and evening!
They tried this experiment to see if their unsubscribes would go higher as most marketers suggest. As per a benchmark study we conducted, the entertainment and retail industry experienced the highest unsubscribes at 979 per 100,000 users.
“My unsubscribe rate did not change much. We had planned the campaign in a way that people find emails useful. We sent out an email in the Morning asking people to stay home while promoting an offer on a pizza.
Then, in the evening, we'd send out another email thanking our users for staying home and providing them another offer”
The success of the campaign was in the fact that the users continued to stay subscribed even though the email frequency was too high. This was also because customers were excited to start consuming Domino’s pizzas once the delivery started again. Customers knew that the situation was temporary and sooner or later, the government would ease the restrictions and make delivery or all products available.
Advice to listeners on campaigns that impact unsubscribe rates
A whole lot of planning goes into sending out a campaign. And you can never be too sure of which campaigns will work well and which ones will fail. So our panelists share their advice of the type of campaigns that have spiked their unsubscribe rates and how to avoid them.
- Plan the campaigns in a way that users don't feel spammed. If a larger percentage of your audience does not open the emails, try out with different subject lines. We can skip the people who've already opened the emails
- Ask users why they unsubscribed from the email and take it into consideration from your next campaigns
- Perform small experiments to see what works for your audience
- Plan out a risk control strategy for whenever things start going in the opposite direction
- Most people do not go through the trouble of unsubscribing unless they are really annoyed or just want to keep a clean inbox. So, when the percentage of people who'll likely unsubscribe is low, it gives room for experiments
- Keep a track of the average revenue per customer at present. That will help you understand how each unsubscribe affects your annual revenue.
- Get the list and personalization right
- Send content that’s relevant to the audience.
- And work nudging the customers for the next purchase in the customer life cycle.
Each of our expert speakers shared some highly insightful ideas which contradict the marketing advice but still work.
The overall message has been to play around. The marketing world has transformed and what did not work before, can work tremendously well now as our panelists have already shown.
So our final message to you is this - Keep experimenting. Consider the maximum risk factor. Fail often and fail fast. In the long run, the learnings from the experiments you run during the lockdown will turn into insights that you can leverage when business is normal. If you wish to listen to the sessions, visit here.