Expedia CruiseShipCenters Boosts Email ROI

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Increased segmentation and targeting has helped Expedia CruiseShipCenters boost email open and clickthrough rates.

With the help of Lyris, the company is using behavioral data to optimize the effectiveness of more than 60 different email marketing campaigns—comprising 5.5 million opt-in emails—per month. Average email open rates have increased to over 35%, and clickthrough rates to nearly 10%.

“We wanted to find a way to get a better understanding of the data we were sitting on,” says Dave Mossop, manager of interactive marketing, Expedia CruiseShipCenters.

Expedia CruiseShipCenters was founded in 1987 and interacts with customers and prospects via 4,000 independent vacation consultants in more than 170 franchise locations throughout North America. Using Lyris’ open Application Program Interface (API), the company integrates its in-house CRM system with its email marketing database.

The company specializes in cruise vacations, which can be a more complex purchase than just booking a hotel or flight. “This is why customers may want to talk to someone, rather than just purchasing online,” says Mossop of the brick and mortar travel consultant approach.

Travel agents are supported by the company’s online presence, and email drives 80% of website traffic. Expedia CruiseShipCenters has worked with Lyris for over eight years, and has over one million email subscribers who typically sign up to receive for three or more enewsletters per month, including editions focused on deals, specific locations or the travel industry.

Email lists are focused on areas of interest, such as destinations like Europe or the Caribbean, and the type of travel purchase they made in the past. Factors like whether they travel with children or if they purchased during a sale influences the types of offers customers receive.

CruiseShipFlash, for example, is a best/buys last minute deals campaign personalized with the travel agent’s name, contact information and photo, as well as a link to the agent’s personal website.

Response rates have increased as the brand has increased segmentation and begun cherrypicking what offers customers receive. For example, an offer promoting new itineraries for luxury line Oceania Cruises went to 15,00 customers and resulted in an 18% clickthrough rate.

Thirty-percent of the brand’s email opens are on webmail, while 32% are via mobile and 48% are via desktop.

“Given our typical subscriber is 55+, mobile tends to be skewing lower than industry average, but its big enough segment (and growing) that we’re actively working to make our email campaigns mobile friendly,” says Mossop. “I suspect the bulk of these subscribers are more likely to read on an iPad/tablet, versus a smart phone, given the nature of what we’re selling though.”

The brand has worked to rebuild email templates overall, switching from more wordy offerings to postcard style offerings. “The entire goal is to turn the process on its head, tease the sale and get that person to see more details by taking them to our landing page, where we can tell the whole story,” he says.

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