Cooking.com Builds a Relationship With Email

Merchants are struggling to get their emails opened in a sea of unopened messages. But Cooking.com may have found a way to cut through the clutter.

Cooking.com director of email marketing Matt Bunn said he has actively pursued email marketing technologies from Strongmail over the years to not only push promotions but to help deliver better information to their customers, an effort that also has resulted in delivering great results for their site.

A big reason Cooking.com is having success with email marketing, Bunn said, is because it’s beginning to treat the tactic as it would its social media channels. That is, Cooking.com wanted to be conversational with its customers, not just throw a deal a day their way.

Bunn had determined that consumers want a relationship with the merchants they buy from, and making your emails all about sales and deals does not help to build that.

“Many merchants’ emails are getting promotion-heavy,” Bunn said. “Even merchants like Williams-Sonoma are inundating their customers’ inboxes with offers. There’s a lot of noise, and discounts in the subject line are becoming a turnoff.”

Here’s a look at three campaigns from Cooking.com – one which has been concluded and two that are ongoing:

Cooking.com’s recently-completed customer satisfaction survey request came with a 20% off reward following completion of the survey. This resulted in a 20% click through rate and 87% conversion rate, and revenue for the campaign was 112% above the median. Results of the survey itself have further helped them in the content and frequency of their communications with customers.

The email blast was done in August, and was changed up from a similar email survey request from August 2010. Bunn said fewer questions were asked – 15 in 2011 vs. 20 in 2010 – and that the reward was increased from 10% off in 2010 to 20% off select items in 2011.

Cooking.com’s “Our Thanks to You” lifecycle reward campaign is a note with a reward that is typically sent to members on a purchase anniversary. Revenue for this campaign was 241% higher than the medium revenue of a non-event broadcast mailing.

Those emails had been sent to customers at random, based on past purchase data, who had not bought from Cooking.com in three, six or 12 months. Bunn said there was no discerning difference in response or open rates between the three groups they emailed. However, Bunn said he is leaning towards future “Our Thanks to You” emails going to just the 6-month group.

Cooking.com’s re-engagement email campaign is being used for members the site had not heard from in at least a year. The response rates for this campaign were higher and revenue 180% higher than the performance of a standard broadcast mailing.

These emails are only going out to customers who have not opened an email from Cooking.com in 12 months. Instead of putting an offer in the subject line, Bunn said Cooking.com is using a friendlier vernacular such as “come back, we miss you,” to get customers to open.

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