Digital Marketing Insights

Travelocity Winback Email Campaign: Testing and Well-Planned Strategy Result in 2-3X Greater ROI

Travelocity Individual and business travelers have many well-known online brands to choose from when making travel arrangements.  It is not uncommon for these travelers to be signed up for several email programs to monitor the best deals.  Maintaining ongoing relationships with an email subscriber base and competing in this arena is a constant challenge to keep members engaged and purchasing.   Creating a compelling email marketing campaign to win back business deserves a well thought out strategy and approach.  It has to be relevant, timely and unique enough to grab attention to keep the dialog going and stand out from all the clutter.   The following case study showcases how Travelocity leveraged StrongView's Agency Services to do just that.

The Situation

Travelocity identified a segment of existing email subscribers who booked in 2009 but had not booked in 2010 – and wanted to win back their business.   Travelocity challenged StrongView's Agency Services team to come up with a compelling email campaign strategy to generate engagement and ultimately drive conversions.

The Approach

Knowing we were likely competing in the inbox with other top travel companies and that recent Travelocity offers had not enticed these members to engage or purchase in the last 12 months, we knew it had to be more than just advertising a good deal.  If you look at the inbox, most of the travel company emails are all about deals. 

We considered typical reactivation email campaign approaches that utilize catch phrases such as “we want you back;” however, since this group was comprised of former purchasers, we chose to capitalize on past loyalty to the Travelocity brand (speaking to the audience as if they were members of our exclusive club already) and to draw on that continuity. 

The approach was to test the audience to see if they would respond to a loyalty message, as well as discover if escalating degrees of discounts could have an impact.  To test the offer threshold, Travelocity chose a single use coupon for a 10% or 15% discount above and beyond any purchase these customers could select from Travelocity’s current online offers.  To maximize open rates or increase opportunities for conversions, we performed an A/B subject line test; one with a generic offer and sense of urgency and the other with a “valued customer” introduction.  What was important about the subject line test was that all things were equal with the exception of swapping out the introduction. Best practices in any test should contain only one simple element change.

The Creative

Travel is an emotional experience driven by rational decision-making (timing, cost, etc.).   The creative approach of this email campaign was to use the emotional side of travel as a driver for the rational side.   To reach an audience who had not connected with the brand recently, our aim was to deliver a message that reminded them of Travelocity’s core value and brand drivers, while acknowledging them as an individual.   Utilizing imagery to tell most of the story, we leveraged light, tight copy to drive the message home.

To ensure compatibility and deliverability best practices, we selected key imagery that could be blended with simple HTML table cells.  For example, the beach imagery shown in the email creative below blends to a solid blue table cell, which allowed us to use straight HTML for the text areas.  Though this approach required careful selection of images, we narrowed down the program to touch on a number of key travel drivers: Urban Getaways, Beach Getaways and Winter Sports Escapes.

To support the notion of a valued customer, we created a digital version of a “platinum” card — a personalized offer that had the appearance of a physical offer. Through careful programming, we were able to add on personalized names and offer codes within the creative of the card itself.

Travelocity Winback Campaign

The Result

Customers responded to our strategy with higher than anticipated engagement.   In terms of revenue and conversions, the email generated 2 to 3 times greater ROI than similar campaigns, outperforming some of Travelocity’s targeted upper-funnel email campaigns.  In terms of campaign performance, our approach resonated well with our audience, and testing efforts helped to increase Travelocity’s bottom line by 12.3%.

As anticipated, “valued customer” subject line outperformed the generic one.

  • Subject Line A:   “Save an additional 10% for a limited time only.”
  • Subject Line B:   “As our valued customer, get an extra 10% off for a limited time only.”

Once the 10/10 subject line test was performed, subject line B was a clear winner by 10%.   To no surprise, it contained the valued customer message, yet it was longer.  When the 10% offer versus the 15% offer was presented in the subject line, it didn’t yield an increase in open rates.   However, after the entire email campaign push, we learned that the 15% offer outperformed the 10% offer in click-to-open ratio (CTO) by 2.3%.  The combination of a valued customer message along with a better offer caused a 12.3% increase in clicks due to our testing methodology and approach, which also led to an increase in conversions and revenue.

5 StarsThe Recognition (Time to Vote!)

The strong results of this email marketing campaign have earned its current status as a finalist for an OMMA Award in the Best Email Marketing Campaign category. If you like what you're learned, you can help it win OMMA's Member's Choice Award by voting for it here.


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Posted by: Laura Crawford at 6:00 AM
Categories: email marketing, email marketing tips, testing, awards


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