Royal Caribbean International, a leader in the global cruise industry, wanted to know more about its competitors’ email efforts. Seeing what messages they sent wasn’t enough to make decisions. Royal Caribbean wanted to know how subscribers engaged with those messages. So the company began using Return Path’s Inbox Insight last year to get a better view of the competitive landscape and almost immediately turned what they learned into impressive gains. Thanks to Inbox Insight, the email marketing team doubled conversion rates, strengthened customer engagement, and grew overall revenue using strategic insights from its competitive intelligence program to optimize campaigns.
Specifically Royal Caribbean used Inbox Insight to measure and analyze how campaign frequency, subject lines, message content, and other factors affected subscriber behavior across the industry. By studying subscriber engagement metrics, including read rates from a panel of more than 2 million email users, Royal Caribbean was able to test sending frequency and subject lines against known high performers, dramatically accelerating program optimization and quickly producing measurable improvements.
“Understanding read rates across the cruise industry was important to understand how much more aggressive we could be in our email sends. Understanding when a subscriber is engaged only briefly and then disengaged right after by deleting the email allows us to understand how relevant our messaging is,” said Royal Caribbean’s Elizabeth Bartle.
One early gain came from the team’s examination of message frequency. When Inbox Insight data indicated that Royal Caribbean could increase email frequency without hurting subscriber engagement, the marketing team tested a 65 percent increase and saw no decline in the brand’s high level of engagement among the test sample. Moreover opt-out rates actually decreased year-over-year while the program doubled its conversion rate in 2012. Inbox Insight gave Royal Caribbean an opportunity to increase revenue potential while still keeping subscribers happy, informed, and engaged.
Using Inbox Insight, Royal Caribbean also increased subscriber engagement by 24 percent by optimizing subject lines. Inbox Insight additionally revealed an opportunity for Royal Caribbean to test symbols in subject lines tactic which the data revealed to be effective for others in the travel industry.
“The email channel is the core of brands’ efforts to stay connected to consumers, and especially in highly competitive sectors like the travel industry a holistic view of how subscribers engage with email campaigns can tell marketers how their programs are performing against their peers’ and where they have opportunities to improve,” says Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg. “Royal Caribbean was able to use data-driven, measurable insight into how subscribers interact with its email and its competitors’ email to identify ways to increase its program’s ROI while strengthening customer relationships.”