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Mumsnet Creates Amazing Personal Experiences with Automated Emails

MAURA MCCORMICK - MAR 7, 2016

There’s nothing like receiving a timely email, whether it’s from a friend or a business. If you’re on the hunt for a new pair of shoes, and an email about an offer for an item you desire arrives in your inbox, you’re going to be excited. Mumsnet, the largest parenting site in the U.K., creates personalized email experiences through the use of automated emails.

London-based Mumsnet caters to parents across the U.K., and has been a beloved resource for 15 years. It’s home to forums where parents can ask questions, and find help and support. Mumsnet has a large review section of products related to parenting, as well as a Locals section with information on schools and other parenting issues in specific areas.

We talked to Shamim Mirzai, CTO at Mumsnet, to learn how the Mumsnet team uses data, to expertly target every email campaign to deliver the right message, at the right time to the right subscriber. They accomplish this impressive feat through personalization, segmentation, automation, and transactional emails.


Shamim Mirzai, CTO at Mumsnet

How do you use email marketing at Mumsnet?

SM: Here at Mumsnet, we have several newsletters that we send out. We send a general parenting newsletter, weekly information to active users, a special offers newsletter, a pregnancy newsletter, a child development newsletter, and a local newsletter. There’s also our “Insights” emails, where users can opt in to be part of product tests and surveys.

One of our most interesting email newsletters is our pregnancy newsletter. If you’re pregnant, Mumsnet will send you a regular newsletter throughout your pregnancy to help you learn about the different stages, based on how far along you are. The pregnancy newsletter is fully automated and uses the mother’s due date as the trigger to send emails. We record the due date through a custom email sign up form and use that custom field to schedule emails that the expectant subscriber will receive. This approach is a really effective use of automation, and it’s creative, too.

Pro-tip: Mumsnet’s use of automation to provide valuable information throughout a pregnancy is creative and inspiring. Your subscribers are on journeys, too. Find a way to provide helpful information along the way, and you’re likely to delight them.

We use Campaign Monitor’s API to send our child development newsletters, which use the date of birth as the trigger. We use Campaign Monitor’s API to figure out who should receive each newsletter at the various stages of their child’s development.

Why is it important to collect data about subscribers?

SM: We take advantage of segmentation, and it’s rather sophisticated. All the data that we need to create segments are in custom fields attached to each user. For example, for each user, we know their primary local area (such as London), how old their children are, and what forums they’ve participated in. This helps us send emails that are extremely personalized, giving them relevant updates on the forums, local offers and events, and helpful tips about their child’s development at each stage of growth.

Data is also an essential need for Mumsnet because we rely on advertising on the website as a revenue stream. It’s crucial for us to be able to tell our advertising clients who the target audience is, and let them choose and see the figures for each of the sectors they’re interested in targeting. The newsletter is one of the prime bits of statistics we include in the media pack that we provide to potential clients. We want to be able to offer advertisers exemplary targeting so they can get tangible ROI.

Can you share an email marketing success story from Mumsnet?

SM: Our best performing Parenting News in terms of click-through rate was this one:

Subject line: Safe ways to watch tomorrow’s eclipse – and Easter holiday fun

And this email had the highest open rate for our Talk round-up:
Subject line: “I’m sorry, could you ring back another time? She’s having a baby at the moment.”

How do you send transactional emails at Mumsnet?

SM: We used to send transactional emails, things like password resets, welcome messages, and notifications, from our own servers. At that time, we were only using  Campaign Monitor for marketing campaigns but wanted to be able to send everything from one place, and now all our transactional emails are also sent using Campaign Monitor.

Why did you choose Campaign Monitor to support your email marketing efforts?

SM: We chose Campaign Monitor for two main reasons.

First, the user interface was easy to use. With Campaign Monitor, our editors can easily create the content for the newsletters, and edit it in a “what you see is what you get” fashion. It’s light years ahead of what Mumsnet was using before. All the editors really like Campaign Monitor, and it makes their lives so much easier on a daily basis. It also shows them that the emails look beautiful on mobile (Mumsnet’s traffic is 70% mobile so this really matters!).

What recommendations do you have for others who are leveraging email marketing?

We A/B test subject lines before we send emails to entire lists, and it’s proven incredibly valuable. We do it all the time now, and it’s become part of our standard processes. If you’re new to email marketing, you might not immediately think about it, but it does affect things significantly.

I also recommend thinking mobile, mobile, mobile. Make sure that your newsletters look absolutely beautiful on a mobile device, as you’re going to get a lot more click-throughs and a much better open rate if they do.

Wrap up

Mumsnet is in the business of providing incredibly personalized experiences to parents. They use email marketing to provide value to parents, as well as advertisers they rely on. They’ve developed an impressive email strategy that takes advantage of all email has to offer, inspiring marketers everywhere to leverage segmentation, personalization, and automation.

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