Marriott Rewards eNews: 2011 IMA Award Winner

By Dec 31, 2011

IMA award logoCATEGORY: 2011 IMA Award winner, Best Email Marketing Campaign |
AGENCY: Epsilon
CLIENT: Marriott

The loyalty program, Marriott Rewards, mails monthly the email newsletter eNews, to its millions of worldwide members. The communication goes out in five languages (English, Chinese, German, British English and Spanish) and receives strong opens, clickthroughs and revenue. Even so, improvements could be made. Specifically, the newsletter was too long and wordy for today’s fast-paced, digital-savvy consumer, and it needed updating with a more contemporary, easier-to-read format.

“We were getting lots of clicks and it was definitely driving revenue,” says Kristen Barletta, director of email marketing for Marriott International. “So we had to give a lot of thought to what we could improve upon.”

The redesign, which took about 14 months, began with a complete analysis of member behavior, both in the newsletter as well as on the website to determine popular content areas, customer path flows and the least viewed categories or sections. With that information in hand, Marriott developed several templates and brought them to the consumer research lab (a focus group of consumers Marriott keeps active all year long) for their input.

Better customization rose to the top. Dynamic originally 10% of overall content and, was boosted to 80%.

“We knew that if we increased relevance to our best customers, we would increase engagement and revenue, as well,” Barletta says.

Customers, she says, wanted to hear about ‘me and my level’, “so we injected a lot of information specific to their reward levels, such as gold, silver, etc.”

Icons were embedded in the design indicating the number of stays a person had earned and milestone messaging, such as ‘Congratulations, you’ve reached the gold level’, and additional personalized messages and reminders like encouraging members to sign up for an online account. A smaller section included internal Marriott news, such as awards the hotel has won or new hotel openings. At the bottom of the email is a section called the carousel, which features partner logos and changes dynamically based on customer history.

In all, the newsletter includes five dynamic offers based on where the member has traveled, a person’s brand affinity, the area in which he or she lives in and where predictive analysis uncovers the person might be likely to go next.

The efforts paid off. Today, eNews is Marriott’s top revenue-driving email program, contributing to a 46% revenue increase for the brand over the previous year. Following the December 2010 launch of the new eNews, revenue per email has consistently been up between 10% and 25%; open rates are up 19.7% and clickthroughs 29%.

Since then, Marriott Rewards has optimized eNews for mobile viewing and a Facebook page to allow them to socialize with the brand and share information with their friends.