Customer Success

Cedar Fair expands customer reach with higher inbox placement.

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Cedar Fair owns and operates amusement parks and resorts in the United States and Canada, including 11 amusement parks, three outdoor water parks, one indoor water park, and five hotels. The Sandusky, Ohio-based company depends on its email marketing program to attract new visitors and get season-pass holders to return more often. When the company saw an opportunity to boost attendance and marketing performance by building a deeper understanding of how subscribers interact with its messages, Cedar Fair reached out to its Salesforce Marketing Cloud account team for advice. They recommended Return Path solutions to help optimize Cedar Fair’s email program.

Challenge

Cedar Fair’s email cadence presents a unique challenge because the seasonal nature of the company’s business. As gloomy weather forecasts influence visitors’ plans, the company sends promotional email to boost attendance whenever predictions of wet weather impact regions with Cedar Fair parks. The resulting sporadic peaks and valleys in Cedar Fair’s email volume can resemble sending patterns that signal spam to mailbox providers.

The company’s Vice President of CRM, Daryle Powers, understood this problem and wanted to make sure that his marketing messages weren’t being kept out of subscribers’ inboxes. He needed mailbox providers to be able to easily distinguish Cedar Fair’s email from spam, and he wanted to know right away whether campaigns were reaching their targets. With guidance from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Powers turned to Return Path’s email optimization solution, specifically choosing Inbox Monitor and Inbox Insight, and applying for Return Path Certification.

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“Certification was huge for us. Yahoo and Comcast account for a big part of our file, and our email campaigns reached more people this year because our messages are getting through almost all of the time.”

Daryle Powers

Vice President of CRM

Solution

Cedar Fair used the visibility that Return Path solutions provided to immediately identify opportunities to boost inbox placement rates (IPR). The company qualified for Return Path Certification and took quick action to comply with program standards. The results were clear: Cedar Fair began reliably reaching subscribers’ inboxes across all mailbox providers. In particular its IPR routinely reached 100 percent in Comcast mailboxes, which represent concentrations of customers in regions with Cedar Fair parks. Powers credits the success largely to Return Path Certification.

“Certification was huge for us. Yahoo and Comcast account for a big part of our file, and our email campaigns reached more people this year because our messages are getting through almost all of the time,” Powers says.

Results

Reaching the inbox more reliably was only part of Cedar Fair’s increased success. The company used competitive intelligence from Return Path’s Inbox Insight to study the creative and offers that drove response for other theme park operators. Using email engagement metrics to track which tactics performed best, Cedar Fair rapidly testing its way to high-impact campaigns.

“When we first used Inbox Insight we found some great ideas that were working for other companies in our space. Our messages started looking more like theirs. Now when we look at the top campaigns, more and more we see other companies’ messages look like ours,” Powers says. “It’s the sincerest form of flattery.”

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