Shortlist for DMA Awards Announced with Return Path Clients in the Best Use of Email Category

Posted by Guy Hanson on

The Direct Marketing Association has just announced the shortlists for its 2018 DMA Awards, and we’re delighted that three of the five finalists in the Best Use of Email Category are Return Path clients! We’d definitely like to think we’ve played a small role in helping them achieve this deserved recognition! UK deliverability rates are now at a record 89 percent, which is a great platform for success.

But success is also dependent on being best in class when it comes to data, creative, and strategy. We’ve prepared a quick summary of what makes these programs great so you can learn from the best!

BBC (“Blue Planet II Promotional Email”, Action Rocket)
The BBC operates a best-in-class email program, and its success is established right at the start of the customer journey. During the signup process, they educate by providing new subscribers with explicit reasons for the collection of each data point. This ethos follows through into the privacy policy, with appropriate depth and detail for all subscribers. For lower interest levels, imagery has a strong presence, whereas detailed text-based explanations are provided for those with higher levels of interest

The nominated campaign is a promotional email for Blue Planet II, sent in October 2017. The email itself was stunning, based around methods used to record the show and the varying forms of sea life found as you go deeper into the ocean, or in this case the further you scroll down the email. The fun and informative nature of the email had a positive impact upon engagement, recording a four percent uplift when measured against BBC’s benchmarked read rate.

McDonalds UK (“McDonalds Monopoly Wiiiin!”, Armadillo)
The McDonald’s Monopoly concept has been around in one shape or another since 1987 and in 2018 ran in the UK under the name of Monopoly Wiiiin! Customers could play in four ways; instant wins found on food packages, collecting property pieces, converting spare pieces into prizes (NOW TV Passes) or by playing online using codes. The company’s email supporting this promotion featured a series of emails throughout the promotion.

The first email in the series, announcing the promotion, established the rules, ways of pay, listed some of the prizes and included a free code for the online game (all while promoting their latest burgers and desserts!) using compelling creative and some lovely touches like animation. The rest of the series continued in this fashion, encouraging participation by highlighting the prizes available and visualizing the number of prizes already won using a lovely animated map of Britain filling up with winners. The series ended with an email offering one final chance at a prize, in exchange for a survey soliciting feedback on the promotion.

Overall, the campaign was an outstanding example of email best practices combined to form a series of emails which resulted in read rates five percent higher than those of other McDonald’s campaigns over the same period.

The Guardian (“The Guardian GDPR – Leave or Remain?”, Oliver)
The Guardian had an excellent GDPR campaign. They were smart by beating the rush, running this campaign in mid-April, well before the last-minute frenzy many senders got caught in. They ran a multi-stage re-permissioning, reducing the obvious risks of a “one shot” approach, and they were intentional about describing the benefits of remaining with the program – “we’ve always got plenty of unmissable events and exclusive offers to tell you about . . . and you can pick and choose which ones to receive to suit your interests.” They were extremely successful, and excellent deliverability was key in ensuring these program-critical emails actually got seen. Guardian has also seen real performance benefits since doing so—average read rates have almost doubled since GDPR, and other positive engagement metrics such as Forwarded rate (very important to major mailbox providers such as Gmail) have increased significantly.

We won’t bestow all of the glory on our Return Path clients—there are some great learnings from the other finalists too.

  • Virgin Holidays operate a high-performing program, with average Read rates well above the industry average, and low Complaint rates –both reflecting a positive and engaged email audience. Two key success factors are the informal tongue-in-cheek language they employ, as well as their regular opportunism. One of our favorite examples (“Blue Monday? Naaah! The Caribbean is waiting for you”) went out on January 15th —officially the most miserable day of the year! It was one of Virgin Holiday’s best read emails that month, but just as importantly generated exceptionally high “Not Spam” rates (three times this sender’s benchmark). It’s another highly important engagement metric, and they really benefit as a result.
  • There is a cautionary tale to be told with Seat UK! This is a sender that does most of the basics right—striking & colorful imagery, strong calls to action, and use of dynamic elements such as countdown timers. But it’s always worth remembering that these good practices all count for nothing if the emails don’t get delivered to their intended recipients. Going back to GDPR–our data shows this sender’s re-permissioning campaign (“Last chance! Act now or we have to say goodbye”) saw 25 percent of the emails sent end up in the junk folder. So at least ¼ of their email list was lost simply because subscribers never saw the emails to respond to in the first place!

Once again—let’s celebrate the success of these best-in-class programs in getting nominated, and wish all of them (but especially BBC, McDonalds, and The Guardian) every chance of success when the winners are announced on 04th December.


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About Guy Hanson

Guy is a passionate advocate for intelligent use of customer data to drive responsive email programs. With a knowledge base that now spans nearly 15 years, he is a global e-mail expert and thought leader. Leading Return Path’s International Professional Services consulting team, Guy has worked with a broad range of clients across 5 continents to improve their email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue generated. Outside of work, Guy is the Chairman of the DMA Email Council. In this role, he works with industry peers including brands, agencies, and service providers to promote the best interests of the email industry to a broader audience. He is also a regular contributor to the industry press.

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