Harlequin Enterprises ULC, the world’s leading romance publisher, had an email program designed to deepen its relationship with readers of their novels. But when the company’s two-person email marketing team was challenged to dramatically increase email revenue in a single year, they needed to deepen the love. Don’t worry, our story has a happy ending.
Challenge: Significantly boost reader passion – and revenue
As the most famous name in romance novels, Harlequin has sold more than 6.7 billion books to readers around the world. With its uplifting escapes and feel-good love stories that range from contemporary tales to inspirational romances to paranormal stories, they have some passionate fans. But with multiple romance subgenres and more than 110 new titles a month to choose from, how can readers find the perfect book for them?
Many of them rely on Harlequin’s emails and e-newsletters for guidance. The company’s email team, a small group of two full-time marketers, delivers content marketing and customer communications for the company’s entire romance division. Harlequin newsletter subscribers receive two to six emails per month, based on individual harlequin.com purchase activity and email open rates.
By using Acoustic Campaign (formerly Campaign Automation), Harlequin had already been able to drive sales by segmenting and optimizing their database of subscribers.
In 2018, Harlequin’s email team was tasked with increasing email revenue by the end of the fiscal year. The team looked at ways to better utilize Campaign software to support it in achieving this goal.
“Harlequin has a great one-on-one relationship with readers; they love our brand and they’re very loyal,” says Amy Loosemore, Harlequin’s Manager of Email and Content Marketing. “Not many publishers have a strong direct sales business like we do, and it’s definitely an advantage. The goal, and the challenge, is to match up the right reader with the right books every month, and Acoustic Campaign helps us do that.”
Solution: Romancing the readers with a personal touch
The email team put Campaign to work, launching several campaigns to drive revenue. To recover lost sales, the team implemented email campaigns with dynamic content targeting website visitors who had abandoned browsing and shopping carts. Both are driving high engagement, with a 38% open rate after abandoned browsing and a 50% open rate for abandoned carts. These automated emails are now virtually maintenance-free and run on a daily basis.
Next, the team optimized Harlequin’s welcome email targeting new subscribers by changing it from a single email to a series of four. Each features the best ways to get started with Harlequin and includes visually appealing images. These changes drove a 788% increase in Welcome email revenue and boosted the average order value 30%.
Throughout the year, Harlequin used Campaign’s AI-powered performance insights and reporting features to analyze results and to further optimize all campaigns to achieve better results. “We used Acoustic Campaign to do a lot of A/B testing around subject lines and found some key takeaways that we could apply across the board,” explains Loosemore. “We also got some great data about how many emails we sent, which ones did well, and which segments generated more revenue when we included offers and discounts.”
“We’ve been very successful with Acoustic Campaign. Even though we have a small staff, the software enables us to maximize our time and efforts.”
Amy Loosemore, Manager of Email and Content Marketing, Harlequin
Results: Loving a 36% revenue increase
Working with Campaign software and Harlequin’s e-commerce group, the small team achieved a strong 36% revenue increase in just one year, laying a solid foundation for continued revenue growth. To measure and document its ongoing progress, the team uses Campaign software to prepare monthly executive reports that summarize sales and highlight challenges and key successes.
“Once we got going with Acoustic Campaign, it was really easy to run with it,” adds Loosemore. “One of our strategies for this year is to look at what other kind of multi-email programs we can launch because we’ve had so much success with the Harlequin Welcome series. We just launched a new one this month for our Inspirational romance newsletter and I even repurposed the same template, just with different branding.”
See? Told you this story had a happy ending.
Founded in 1949, Harlequin is a leading publisher of commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction books. The company publishes more than 110 titles a month, in both print and digital formats, in as many as 150 international markets and more than 30 languages. The publisher is home to many award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling authors. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Harlequin is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world, with operations in 18 countries, and a subsidiary of News Corp.
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