Email Marketing

Ask the Experts: How Virgin Atlantic’s Email Program Reaches New Heights

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Virgin Atlantic’s forward-thinking approach and willingness to try new things has allowed them to lead one of the most successful email programs in the world of travel.

We were lucky to be joined by Tom Nowell and Jon Lockie, two of the experts behind Virgin Atlantic’s best-in-class email program, on a recent episode of State of Email Live. Our webinar audience was full of questions that time didn’t permit us to answer on the day, but Tom and Jon have kindly taken the time to respond in this info-packed Q&A!

Keep reading to uncover amazing insights about their email program.

Q: The levels of customization you achieve must be challenging! What email software is Virgin Atlantic using to build dynamic content and the lists that drive it?

The fantastic team we have here at Virgin Atlantic helps make this less of a challenge and more of a target that’s constantly evolving.

We’re fortunate that we’re able to combine a powerful suite of Adobe products with solutions from external partners like Validity. Together, they allow us to get a true understanding of our data and the content that works vs. what doesn’t. This ultimately activates creative and interactive solutions to dynamically optimize content.

Q: When it comes to the use of dynamic content, how many permutations do you typically have per campaign?

This is driven by a combination of elements, ranging from where in the customer lifecycle we’re targeting through to customer preferences.

Typically, an average campaign will generate volumes of permutations between hundreds, and hundreds of thousands.

Q: Do you use a similar approach for more content-based messaging like your email newsletters? If so, do you see the same level of results?

We always try to target customers with emails that are relevant to their preferences, so a similar approach is often used for content-based messaging.

Since they all have different objectives, each test doesn’t necessarily drive the same result. But they often provide the same level of insights that allows us to optimize our approach and provide our customers with enhanced experiences.

Q: When travel was restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, did you lower your email cadence? If so, how did you maintain your deliverability once travel was permitted, and did you begin sending a lot more emails?

Our content developed into more service-led communication to keep customers fully informed with the ever-changing situation, but the cadence remained relative to our MailCharts benchmark.

We maintained a focus on data hygiene throughout, while delivering highly personalized content to ensure customers received content applicable to them at the right time, which drove great engagement.

Q: Do you have any plans to use Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) to enhance email authenticity?

We’re in the process of progressing through DMARC tiers, which will eventually activate BIMI. It’ll be great to see how this impacts our KPIs (with a close eye on our sender reputation, inbox placement, etc.) and brand awareness across our program.

Q: Are you using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your carousels?

We’re still in the very early stages of testing out AMP as a solution. Our interactive components (like the carousels) are created purely using CSS, taking a mobile-first approach.

But these components aren’t only targeted at email clients that support this functionality—we always ensure there’s an equivalent fallback so nobody misses out!

Q: Your range of tactics is excellent, especially for B2C. Do you believe there’s a parallel for B2B senders?

We certainly believe there is a parallel. There are so many best practices in email that apply to both. We regularly promote best practices and new learnings internally and share assets we’re producing for use in B2B activity. That consistency is growing, for sure.

Q: How do we achieve 100% inbox placement rates like yours?

It’s really a culmination of several things. For us, the strength of our brand is definitely a contributor. A lot of work goes into protecting it in our emails.

For example, from a design and content perspective, we use Everest’s Design & Content tool to optimize our code to the fullest ahead of each deployment. From a data perspective, we keep a keen eye on data hygiene and ensure the customers we’re communicating with are receiving relevant and engaging content.

It’s also important to take good care of your IPs/sender domains and make sure you’re using a consistent sender name. We’ve worked with Validity to become a Certified sender, which—along with all the reputation benefits—provides us with daily reports on how our IPs are performing. This allows us to resolve any performance issues before it’s too late.

You should also make sure your DKIM & SPF records are aligned and set up correctly so you’re able to progress through the DMARC tiers (DMARC is one of the biggest safety checks in email). With DMARC in place, you’ll be able to activate BIMI, which will give your emails the ultimate brand recognition.

Lastly, it’s always a great idea to work with partners like Validity!

Soar to email success

Tom and Jon were incredibly generous with the knowledge and expertise they shared with us, as well as highlighting how they use Validity’s solutions to achieve the amazing results their world-class email program generates.

If this Q&A has whetted your appetite for more, you can watch the full State of Email Live webinar recording here. And if you aren’t yet using Everest to optimize the performance of your email program, there’s no time like the present⁠—request a demo today!