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Bauer Media: Email marketing case study

Bauer Media recently tested a new email marketing strategy using its motorcycle portfolio, with dramatic results. Richard Evans, marketing director of their email partner Silverpop, assesses the strategy and results.

By Richard Evans

Bauer Media, the global publishing house with key titles such as FHM, Heat, Grazia and Kiss, has a reach of more than 19 million UK adults. As a Silverpop client, Bauer Media has been successful in deploying Silverpop Engage (their email marketing and marketing automation software) across its business, including magazines, websites and radio stations.

However, Bauer wanted to better engage subscribers by moving beyond broadcast messages to more segmented, relevant emails, as Simon Blanchard, Head of Data & Online explains: “We knew if we could prove that segmentation worked for us with just one or two titles, it would help us make the business case for investing in a Data Warehouse. Therefore, we decided to do a pilot project in one of our markets and then analyse the value of this approach.”

Through this intelligent use of email marketing, Bauer Media achieved a 253 percent increase in website visits through segmentation and dynamic content.

Blanchard launched the segmentation program within the motorcycling market, where Bauer Media is a leading player, with weekly newspaper MCN, five monthly magazines and the largest motorcycling website in Europe,

The project’s goal was to use motorcycling data collected from disparate sources — including magazine subscriptions (online, phone and mail), reader offers, competitions, website registrations, surveys and events —integrate the data into one database, and then create and test a powerful segmentation for emails based upon this aggregated data.

Working with Silverpop’s strategy team, Bauer Media crafted multiple email campaigns for each segment, including motorcycle insurance and buying or selling a bike through Motorcycle News (MCN). For these campaigns, segmented emails were created that included personalised and dynamic content. Each campaign also had its own control group that did not include these elements, enabling Bauer to measure any uplift in results.

Their motorcycle insurance website MCN Compare used personalised content to drive traffic. The email campaign was sent to motorcyclists one month before their motorcycle insurance was due to expire. Various personalised subject lines were tested, for example combining the name of the bike model, the recipient’s first name and month of expiry. Examples of variations included: “Hi John, your Yamaha Fazer insurance is due for renewal. Save over £150 with” and “Hi John, your Yamaha insurance is due for renewal this May. Save over £150 with” The body of the email contained the same content.

The same tactic was employed on the MCN Bikes For Sale website. This campaign was sent to subscribers using data Bauer Media had collected regarding which motorbike consumers said they would like to buy next. The email included personalised subject lines such as, “Hi John, fancy getting yourself into a new Yamaha?” The body of the email included dynamic content in the heading, a logo for the bike manufacturer, and a link to “bikes for sale in your area” for the relevant make and model.

Integrating disparate data, segmenting lists and including dynamic content proved a winning formula for Bauer Media — its personalised emails easily outperformed the generic control group messages.

For example, the MCN emails mentioned above yielded the following results:

* Up to 71% higher open rates

* Up to 107% higher click-through rates

* 253% more website visits

This approach was such a success that Bauer Media began to personalise its emails when welcoming new sign-ups. For its MCN welcome program, open rates and click-through rates are three times the company average.

“We proved that intelligent use of data to make information more relevant to the recipient nudged consumers to content that matched their interests and generated tangible results for our business,” says Blanchard. “Just as importantly, it helped prove the hypothesis behind our data strategy, which has been enormously helpful in developing the business case for a new Database Warehouse initiative, which has recently gained senior management approval.”