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Email Marketing: 3 reasons I was sucked into a Pandora win-back campaign

December 3rd, 2013
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It is rare that I become sucked into an email campaign.

After a year of experience at MECLABS, I pride myself on being immune to catchy subject lines, blasted discount sends and tricky calls-to-action.

It’s actually become a bit of a game for me to watch the emails flood in and try to decide which companies are testing a new strategy, which ones are attempting to re-engage me, and which ones are just looking for a click.

In the last month, however, I have been completely taken in by a new personalized email campaign launched by Pandora.

The Internet radio giant has started what appears to be a new engagement campaign designed to pull in customers who have stopped responding to the normal subject lines and creative material.

Let me set the scene: It’s 15 minutes before my lunch hour on a Thursday afternoon and I’m staring listlessly at my Outlook inbox hoping no new projects come in before I manage to flee the office and get some food.

 

Hello sweet, sweet nostalgia

Suddenly, there’s a ding and a new email materializes at the top of the queue. It reads, “It All Started with Rilo Kiley Radio.” I’m hooked before I even have a chance to fully comprehend who the sender is.

Not only does the slightly vague expression pique my interest, but I’m also pulled in by the very specific mention of one of my favorite bands and the romantic nostalgia of the phrase “It All Started With … ” 

 

The subject line captured my attention, but the real beauty of this campaign is the personalized emotional plea found after the open.

 

A large graphic offers me a look back at my musical journey and Pandora’s marketing team proceeds to discuss not only specific songs I liked, but also provides the exact number of songs (4,140 and counting) they have enjoyed playing for me over the last eight years of our relationship together.

The first history email was followed by a two more emails all personalized and designed to make an emotional appeal to my love of certain bands. Here were the other two emails Pandora sent shortly after helping me look at our musical journey together.

 

Pandora send #2

Subject Line: “The Lumineers Radio Misses You”

 

Pandora send #3

Subject Line: “You Will Love These”

 

My full disclosure here is that I have opened and read them all.

So, what’s so different about this campaign and why did I get pulled into the Pandora win-back campaign when I have successfully resisted so many others?

I think I have narrowed it down to three main reasons.

 

Emotional appeal

In a sea of discounts, special deals and savings, the subject lines used by Pandora stand out because they manage to make a strong emotional appeal in a concise way.

This is a lesson worth taking back to the whiteboard for test design. In business, it is easy to become a servant to the bottom line and begin to think this is what appeals to your customers as well.

Deals are nice and I have never passed up a BOGO, but at the end of the day, I might be more willing to spend additional cash on something I’ve fallen in love with rather than something I need.

For example, in college, I once spent too much on a new designer purse and ate Ramen noodle cups for two weeks to make up the cash, because as I saw it:

The purse = Love

Food = Need

Rambling aside, if you can get the customer to fall in love at first glance, you might not need that coupon to get the sale.

 

Personalization

“What new thing can we personalize?” seems to be a big question in the marketing world these days, but Pandora approached personalization thinking instead, “How should we personalize?”

It went beyond a standard personalized salutation by showing me my listening history. While this level of personalization has the potential to be creepy, Pandora’s execution was not.

I would like to hypothesize this because Pandora managed to take all of the data it has on my preferences and made it into the story.

Customers don’t want to be a random collection of meaningless data. No one wants to be reduced to a series of numbers or a set of coded recommendations.

If you’re going to personalize an email campaign, attempt to really show the customer you know who they are.

There’s a popular expression at MECLABS that goes “people don’t buy from websites, people buy from people.” My twist on that when it comes to win-back campaigns is data sets don’t buy from people, people buy from people, and they deserve to be seen as such.

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Email Marketing: How a creative throwback helped Dell boost revenue 109%

March 18th, 2014
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Meeting customer expectations can be tough, but exceeding them consistently introduces a whole new set of challenges.

How do you build fresh excitement around a new product when customers have become comfortably numb?

This was the challenge facing Dave Sierk, Consumer & Small Business Email Strategist, Dell, who shared an interesting case study at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 on Dell’s approach to tackling this problem for a new product’s launch.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, let’s take a look at the throwback creative Dave and his team used to effectively communicate value.

 

Expectations on autopilot are tough to disrupt 

dell-laptop-emails

 

Dell launches a few products a year, and as you would expect, most of them are laptops.

When the team prepared to launch the XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook, a laptop that can transform from a laptop to a tablet, they realized communicating the new product’s value effectively would prove a little tricky.

 

Text and images don’t always cut it

A versatile range of motion is one of the core values of the product.dell-text-emails

How do you communicate that aspect through an email using text or images?

You can’t.

Image stills do not fully deliver the product’s fluid range of motion, and a wall of descriptive text telling customers about it is not very appealing either.

Let’s not forget an even bigger problem …

While the laptop’s motion could be demonstrated at a brick-and-mortar store, the gap in effectively demonstrating the product online would remain unsolved.

 

A blast from the past emerges as a solution

dell-gif-email

 

The team decided to use a GIF to illustrate the product’s full range of motion in the email campaign. Another advantage of using this throwback to the 90s was that the GIF solved the problem of showing online users how the product worked.

“It’s a great way for a customer to get a full understanding of how that product is going to work in their hands,” Dave said.

 

Delivering value to the inbox is why customers buy from you

dell-gif-email-results

 

After Dell compared the campaign’s performance against internal benchmarks, it proved a success. Dave’s team increased conversion 103% and boosted revenue 109%.

This example also serves as a reminder as to why capturing and delivering a value proposition is vital to your email efforts versus just plugging a few product images and text in an email and hoping for the best.

You have to go beyond just sharing what something is with customers and show them why it’s the ideal solution for them.

To learn more about this campaign and other inspirational and transferable takeaways from Email Summit 2014, check out the on-demand replay of “Email Summit 2014: Top takeaways from award-winning campaigns.”

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Email Summit 2011: Your peers’ top takeaways about email content, enhancing deliverability and optimizing swag

January 28th, 2011
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For everyone who made it out to the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011 this past week at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, you know ;). And everyone who couldn’t attend this year, you missed some great sessions, case studies, speeches and interaction with around 750 of your peers.

What happens in Vegas …

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

Unless some #SherpaEMAIL folks hit me up *cough @mgieva @martinlieberman cough* this is my evening in #SinCity - phintch

Everyone probably knows the second half of this advertising tagline (hint: what happens, stays), but that’s pretty hard to achieve with real-time blogging (I had posts up on Flint McGlaughlin and David Meerman Scott‘s talks with almost no lead time) from both Sherpa and attendees, crazy-active Twitter hashtag activity (#SherpaEmail) and entire rooms of marketers uploading pictures and video all day long.

We even brought along some of our optimization experts from MECLABS to do one-on-one live optimization of email, landing pages and more (see below) …

Crowdsourced takeaways

A great thing about a successful Email Summit filled with engaged attendees is that reactions to individual sessions and the entire event go online in real-time.

Here’s just a small sample from all the great material this Summit generated:

The #sherpaemail Daily

Email Summit notes shared by Alison Chandler, Marketing Manager American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Here’s some of the material Alison is sharing:

  • Exclusive content gives people a reason to fork over their email addresses. Make at least some of the content in your emails available ONLY to email subscribers (such as special discounts), or FIRST to email subscribers (such as the chance to buy tickets before the general population).

And be sure to check out Alison’s “random gems” at the link.

Key MarketingSherpa Email Summit takeaways from Emailblog.eu — this is a great collection of Twitter commentary

Live Blog: How Pandora Uses Email Marketing to Keep You Listening from EE Tech News

More from EE Tech News — Live Blog: Email Marketing Summit, Real-Time Marketing and PR & Inbound Marketing

Summit panelist, Ardath Albee — Make 3rd Party Content an Opportunity Not a Necessity

4 Email Marketing Challenges and How to Tackle Them from Magdalena Georgieva at HubSpot

And do hit the official MarketingSherpa Twitter account to find retweets of even more crowdsourced content and photos from the Summit.

#SherpaEmail

Of course a blog of crowdsourced material would not be complete without taking in all the activity at the Summit’s Twitter hashtag — #SherpaEmail. Some numbers for the seven-day period from 1/21 to 1/27:

  • 2,295 tweets
  • 389 contributors
  • 327.9 tweets per day

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

Here’s a sample from the top ten tweeters (and yes, I somehow made it onto this list):

Optimizing swag

The “more” up there in the live optimation section leads to something probably near, and dear, to most conference and expo veterans’ hearts — swag. At lunch on Wednesday, me and my editor — and Director of Editorial Content MarketingSherpa — Daniel Burstein, sat with Karen Rubin and Magdalena Georgieva of HubSpot and Jessica Best of emfluence and did a little swag optimization.

Sure MECLABS Research Managers and the MarketingExperiments Quarterly Research Journal are the go-to people when you need a better-performing landing page, but who should you turn to in order to make cool swag even cooler? Marketing experts, that’s who.

I’m taking full credit for this one:

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

Optimizing Swag Real Time (#osrt) at #SherpaEmail @davidkonline: Add a USB drive for an #emailgeek #swissarmyknife - bestofjess

How to optimize this swag from emfluence Interactive Marketing? Easy. Lose the letter opener and add a USB flash drive on the other side of the keyboard brush, and leave the screen cleaner strip alone. Done and done, and voila, you have a Geek Swiss Army Knife. Ah, swag optimization at its best.

These efforts led to this Twitter exchange:

So you can see we have something of a swag-optimizing super group. If you were at MarketingSherpa Email Summit and have your own swag optimization suggestions, feel free to tweet them using #optimizedswag.

And, who could leave out — or forget — the Slingshot SEO monkey:

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

“I’m walking through the airport and every so often my suitcase screams like a monkey. #sherpaEmail” – @karenrubin

Related resources

Live optimization with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin at Email Summit 2011

Real-Time Marketing: David Meerman Scott at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2011 One-on-One Case Study

Email Summit Case Study: National Education Association’s Member Benefits Corporation

When personalization goes wrong: Amazon's

May 31st, 2002
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When personalization goes wrong…. If you’ve been to Amazon this week, and you’re a registered shopper there, you’ve probably noticed their new merchandising feature “Gold Box Specials.” A gold box sits at the top right of your screen taunting you to open it a la Pandora. When you do, it flashes a few different special offers-of-the-day at you, which you have 60 minutes to accept or forget forever. Minutes then tick down as you hang out on Amazon for the next hour.

Yes, I’ve already contacted Amazon’s PR dept to line up an interview with a marketer there who can tell us if this works or not. In the meantime I tried it out myself, and was deeply disappointed because Amazon, a site famed for presenting personalized offers in every way possible, offered me a series of power tools.

The day I’ll buy a cordless screwdriver is the day I’ll buy a big wheel truck ( i.e. never, ever, ever). Given that I’ve been shopping on Amazon since the mid-90s, they should have known that.