[caption id="attachment_2116" align="alignright" width="109" caption="Simone Vincent, Email Marketing Manager, MyVoucherCodes.co.uk"]
This month I am pleased to have Silverpop customer Simone Vincent answer our "5 questions." Simone is the email marketing manager for MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, which is the U.K.'s largest voucher and deals site and the fourth largest website in terms of traffic. Simone joined Markco Media (owner of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk) about nine months ago and hasn't looked back since. When I first spoke with Simone about how she was using Silverpop Engage, I was really impressed by how much she was able to accomplish in her short tenure but also her incredible enthusiasm about her role and her company. So let's begin our interview with Simone:
Tell us about MyVoucherCodes.co.uk. How important is email to your business?
Email is an essential channel for MyVoucherCodes.co.uk. The ability to let our users know about new offers and vouchers as they become available maximizes engagement with customers, allowing them to get the most of the service we provide. Our database of 1,970,000 users expects to see current, relevant offers so that they can save money on both everyday shopping and the larger, less regular purchases they make.
What do you see as top challenges for email marketers today?
Email marketers face many challenges, among which inbox crowding and audience fatigue rate the highest. We discuss issues such as deliverability as though they are standalone problems, however they are directly related to how we engage our users. The more effectively and relevantly we communicate with users, the better the email channel performs, which in turn ensures deliverability and reduces data attrition rates. My mantra is to deliver relevant content that interests our audience, in a time-sensitive manner, and via the channel with which our users are most engaged. If we cannot do these things effectively with the fabulous range of tools and features available to us, then we should not be doing this job.
Additionally, joining up user behavior across the different channels such as social media, websites, mobile access, and emails themselves is very challenging. Complicated behavior tracking provides reams of data which, with time and effort, can be mined to deliver the optimum user experience, avoiding duplication and retaining relevancy. This tracking takes time and resource to implement, but once available to us provides a rich depth of knowledge that will generate a return on that investment--be it time, money or other resources--several times over in very little time.
Finally, I think it can be very easy to focus on KPIs, stats, creative issues, best practices, database size, etc. and lose sight of the fact that our users are individuals, that we should relate to them as such, and that each and every person in our database is a person, not a record or just a "user" but a person with needs that they would like to fulfill. While we must consider the technical aspects of email marketing, we are still communicating with individuals who like to feel valued. Digital marketing is simply old rules but with new tools, tools which give us more power than ever before to create personalized communications. Marketing, whatever channel we are using to deliver our messages, is still about identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements, profitably.
You came on board in your current role less than a year ago. What were your top initiatives for your first six months?
I joined Markco Media Limited almost nine months ago. When I came on board there was an appreciation of the potential that email marketing holds, but little understanding of the capacity of Silverpop to deliver on this potential. Our campaigns were very basic, involving a very unattractive newsletter that was delivered once a week and an additional themed newsletter once a fortnight.
Since that time I have achieved the following milestones, all of which are adding value at different stages of the customer lifecycle, from activation of new users, to engagement, and finally to customer retention:
1. Created a reminder programme for our double opt-in programme. Together with a redesign of the initial activation/subscription confirmation email, our activation rate has gone for 14.8% to 77%
2. Created a programme of welcome emails, informing users of the value of our email newsletters. This initial touch point is essential in the user engagement process. These communications regularly achieve an open rate of 65%, and a click-through rate of over 20%, as new members discover the value of our service, and also engage with our marketing channels such as our Facebook site, Twitter page and mobile app.
3. A full redesign of the newsletters allowed me to implement best practices in terms of structure, snippet/preheader info, subject lines, content, creative etc. Combined with implementing Send Time Optimisation, open rates have increased from 18% to 28%, and click-through rates from 3% to 8%.
4. I focused on delivering relevant content to our users in a timely manner, and with the help of our development team, created a programme called Discount Alerts. Users have complete control over what offers they want to see, selecting a favourite store, category or key word, and the frequency (daily or weekly) with which these are delivered. Using a combination of an onsite preference centre, relational tables and an automated message programme, we deliver new offers that completely meet the criteria set by the users. The results of this initiative in the first months have been astounding. Discount Alerts achieve a 48% open rate and a 28% click-through rate. We are not yet able to track conversion rates and ROI, but I believe that given the consistently excellent performance, this programme will more than justify the time and effort it took to implement.
On voucher sites, many people sign up once and then may not come back again. How do you minimize attrition?
User attrition was a big problem, and still is. Many members visit the site to look for a bargain when they are contemplating a large purchase, so one would expect there to be a drop-off over time. When I joined, the number of users who had not opened an email for more than six months (inactive) was 44 percent of the database.
I created a re-engagement programme, addressed to those users who had not opened an email for more than 3 months, in order to avoid losing them entirely by the 6 month mark. These emails are completely manually created. They focus on a current pain point for our users, and put a human face on the company. I write them from the heart, as though I were talking to a friend, and discuss topics such as the VAT increase, rising fuel and energy prices, and the cost of taking care of children over school holidays. By putting myself in our users’ shoes, I can relate to their issues, which to be honest are MY issues too. I bring the conversation back around to how MyVoucherCodes can save our users money on various topical and seasonal purchases, thus easing the drain on our personal finances due to the current economic climate.
I have cut the ratio of inactive users by 25 percent, now they make up 33 percent of our database. There is still a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction.
You recently attended Silverpop’s European Customer Conference in London. What did you take away from the event?
The Customer Conference in London was a great opportunity to meet the team that is helping to create the successes above. I am very excited by many of the new product features that are in the testing phase and would love to be involved in the beta testing. I was of course aware of the issues surrounding "Mocial" but am now investigating how important it is to implement this for MyVoucherCodes in the coming months.
To find out more about the successes MyVoucherCodes has achieved through its welcome campaigns and re-engagement programs, as well as by using Send Time Optimization, check out this case study.