Courtney Eckerle

How One Small Template Change Led to Greater Customer-Centric Content for WeddingWire

April 1st, 2016

Most email marketers know they’re supposed to throw the social sharing buttons into their email templates.

… or do you?

“When we first started doing that, that made sense and that was the best practice when social media first came around. But we never looked back at it and did a reality check to see if that still made sense,” said Bart Thornburg, Senior Manager of Email Marketing, WeddingWire.

In his MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Media Center interview, Bart talked about how WeddingWire checked that portion of the template to see if it was really a best practice for them.

The thought process that lead to this assessment is that since the team initially put the buttons in, he said, the email channel and inbox has progressed, and most importantly, customers have progressed.

Email marketers have to, at the very least, match that evolution.

“It’s not batch-and-blast anymore. All of our emails, we’re sending it to a specific subscriber for a specific reason. And actually, I view it as a failure for that email if they do click on anything but my main CTA,” he said.

In investigating the buttons, Bart and his team realized that taking attention from the CTA wasn’t an issue — no one was clicking the social share buttons.

“In the last 24 million sends that we’ve done, we’ve had zero clicks on the Pinterest icon in our email template,” he said.

The icons have become a fixture in most email templates, he said, “so people’s eyes just kind of move right past it, and there is not a clear value proposition for clicking on it.”

WeddingWire removed the social share buttons from its emails, but the team also wanted to find out where and how users were interacting on social.

They zeroed in on Pinterest, he said, because, “our users are already there, and what they’re doing there is gathering, sharing and collaborating with others on wedding inspiration, wedding articles. … So for us, it made sense to look there and try [to] incorporate that into our emails.”

The company had a lot of strong content on Pinterest already, so the team took the standard newsletter — which historically has had content that clicked through to WeddingWire’s website — and began including pins that clicked through to Pinterest.

Customers were happy to click through to Pinterest at the same rate they were clicking through to WeddingWire’s website, he added. Additionally, when customers went to Pinterest, the team was seeing a lot of re-pins and an increase in followers.

According to the MarketingSherpa case study on this campaign, WeddingWire saw a 141% higher Pinterest growth rate compared to the brand’s average, as well as an average lift of 31% on re-pins from email. Top articles reached as high as a 180% lift in re-pins.

When it comes to examining your template for small changes that could make such a big impact with your customers, Bart said, it’s important to challenge everything and trust nothing.

“The first step is hard. I asked that question, ‘What else have I missed?’ This is something that has just been sitting in our emails for years without anyone giving it a second guess,” he said.

For his team, it was about going back to core email marketing principles.

“Because we’re trying to get people to go cross-channel, and bring in social, that shouldn’t be that scary, and a lot of the same principles apply. There should be a strong value proposition for them to click on that link, there should be inherent value there,” he said.

That valuable click should be low friction, and not a secondary CTA, “or even something buried in the template,” he said.

Get free access to a video replay of Bart’s session from MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 along with more than 30 other sessions from the event.


You can follow Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter at @CourtneyEckerle.


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Courtney Eckerle

About Courtney Eckerle

With a focus on aspirational, customer-first marketing, Courtney’s goal has been to produce clear, interesting and actionable external content for MarketingSherpa readers. This has included writing over 300 case studies, moderating live event interviews, and producing video content. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Mass Communications and Film Studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was a correspondent for USA Today College prior to joining MECLABS Institute.

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