There’s no question — Virgin is a huge, iconic brand. Founded by the famed Richard Branson and Nik Powell, Virgin focuses on travel and entertainment while managing ventures in finance, healthcare, media, and more.
Virgin Experience Days is a site full of experiences which can be gifted through e-vouchers. Believing that an experience is the greatest gift of all, Virgin Experience Days helps customers give their friends and family memories that will last forever.
What’s the propeller in the Virgin Experience Days engine? Email marketing. Email represents one of the brand’s biggest marketing channels. That’s why we sat down with Liam Howard Jones, Marketing Manager, Ahren Cox, Digital Marketing Executive and Craig Francies, Lead Designer, to learn how email and marketing automation helps deliver unforgettable experiences, amplifying the lives of customers.
Liam Howard Jones
Tell us about Virgin Experience Days and what you offer
LHJ: The Virgin brand is different than other brands– Virgin is always trying to disrupt things, whether it’s education, the environment, or something else. At Virgin Experience Days, we innovate with new experiences, creating opportunities for people to have adventures.
CF: We provide what we call “Experience Days,” things like driving days, spa days, afternoon teas, meals out, and other great experiences.
LHJ: At Virgin Experience Days we offer people the chance to learn how to fly a plane or drive a car. You can jump out of a plane, have a meal at a Michelin Star Restaurant, or stay in a five-star hotel. We offer the opportunity to have an amazing experience.
Here at Virgin Experience Days, we say that if you’re going to have an experience, have the ultimate experience.
AC: A lot of people believe that experiences are going to be expensive. Virgin Experience Days gives access, and makes them affordable for all, whether the experience is going out for a race car driving adventure or enjoying afternoon tea in a special spot.
How do you use email marketing at Virgin Experience Days?
LHJ: When it comes to marketing, we work to make all of our experiences look as stunning as possible. People are buying an experience for themselves or for someone that they care about, so our marketing revolves around showing off these amazing experiences through great imagery.
Email marketing is one of our biggest channels. We receive 20,000 new subscribers every month through our website and various signup forms.
We’ve been able to create really stunning emails that show off the experiences we offer. The channel has grown– and keeps on growing.
AC: Email marketing is huge for us. It’s critical to our business. With email, we can instantly reach out to our audience of almost a million people. We can send emails, reach this audience, and promote all different kinds of things.
Email marketing works for us because it’s an easy way to reach out to customers. We use email to target people that have already purchased and already trust our brand. We know that they’ve bought an experience from us, and have hopefully enjoyed it.
When it comes to new customers, we try to inform them. These new customers want to know something about us, so we instantly reach out to them and talk about what we do as a business.
LHJ: At Virgin Experience Days, we’re always paying attention to ROI. Email consistently brings in an incredible amount of revenue. It’s one of our best performing channels.
As a channel, email grew 120% year-over-year in the last two years.
Campaign Monitor, in particular, has been a massive driver of growth for our company. We’re able to create and send emails and show off the amazing experiences we offer. It’s remarkable to be able to reach out to a million people in one email.
How do you use marketing automation?
LHJ: Marketing automation has become really important for us. Once a customer first gets in contact with us– whether it’s through buying an experience or signing up for our newsletters– we have a series of automated emails which introduce subscribers to our brand.
AC: We use a lot of marketing automation to power email at Virgin Experience Days. When people sign up, they get an automated email welcoming them to our community. Five days later, they’ll receive an email with more information about the experiences our brand offers.
Additionally, we automate re-engagement emails. So if people aren’t opening or clicking emails, or they’ve stopped visiting our site, we’ll send them an email encouraging them to come back with a special offer for 10% off. We trigger these emails if a customer hasn’t engaged with an email campaign in the past 13 months. These re-engagement emails have proven to be a good way of incentivizing customers.
We also have automated emails go out after customers purchase from us. Thirty-two hours after they make the purchase, they receive an email encouraging them to keep shopping.
We use marketing automation because it brings in revenue for us. It helps subscribers get familiar with our brand, and gives them a warm welcome.
Automation helps subscribers get up to speed, and allows us to build relationships with our customers using email.
LHJ: Once we started using automation, we realized we could keep customers in our database for much longer.
How does subscriber data inform your marketing automation strategy?
AC: We’re always collecting data to improve our email efforts. Subscriber data allows us to be smarter because we can then target people at specific times. For example, if we know someone has a birthday coming up in August, and that they bought around that time last year, we can encourage them to buy again.
We have more than 30 custom fields that we push data into. We collect everything– from a purchaser’s country, to their last order dates, to their experience preference, and much more. With that information, we can thoughtfully segment our lists to identify sub-groups of subscribers. We then send highly targeted emails with personalized content to these groups.
Ultimately, automation is all about sending the right message to the right people at the right time. That’s important to us because we want our subscribers to feel connected to our brand.
LHJ: Simple things, like personalizing subject lines, has done wonders for us, as has A/B testing.
Virgin Experience Days saw a 29% increase in open rates when we started A/B testing and personalizing subject lines.
How does Campaign Monitor help with your email marketing?
LHJ: With Campaign Monitor, we’re able to set up stunning emails, have them ready to go, and send them out to our subscribers without us having to manually send them. In this way, hitting people’s inbox at exactly the right time. Automation drives revenue for us, but it also keeps costs down by reducing time spent on marketing, which is essential for our small team at Virgin Experience Days.
AC: Campaign Monitor is massively powerful for us. It’s a tool I use every day. We always want our emails to look amazing. We love featuring big, bold imagery that catches the eye. Campaign Monitor makes it easy for us to build these emails. Honestly, the best thing about Campaign Monitor is how easy it is to use. You don’t need a large team to use it, and it’s so intuitive that you can hit the ground running.
CF: Campaign Monitor makes it extremely easy to build and send emails. The drag-and-drop editor is so easy to use, you don’t need any code. When you build an automated journey, it’s easy to visualize the customer journey— you can see that the messages will hit inbox at exactly the right time without manually having to hit send each time. From a design point of view, it’s really easy to see what’s going on.
Virgin Experience Days is in the business of providing top notch experiences to customers, and they stay connected to their growing subscriber base through email and marketing automation.
Automation helps Virgin Experience Days reach their audience at exactly the right time, leaving time for the team to focus on how they can improve their overall marketing. Through the use of welcome emails, re-engagement emails, and stunning newsletters with gorgeous imagery, Virgin Experience Days is able to connect with each and every customer.
To learn more about how Virgin Experience Days uses Campaign Monitor, watch the video.