Virgin Trains Email Programme


The team

Paul Becque, John Treacy, Tom Duckham, Rosalind Mair, Andrew Wills, Scott Hunter, Mat Prime, Taylor Westoby, Matt Daymond, Dan Noller.

Other contributors:

Creatormail, The Trainline

How did the campaign make a difference?

This campaign targeted marginal gains across every aspect of email effectiveness, to generate a big overall effect. Focus on creative impact, increasing open rates and message relevance (and making the emails more interesting) increased opens across all segments and overall by 33%. ROI increased from a rolling average of £35:1 to £56:1 in nine months.

What details of the strategy make this a winning entry?

The GB cycling team's dominance over their competitors during London 2012 provides an interesting parallel to describe the Virgin Trains email marketing approach. David Brailsford, GB Cycling's performance director, attributed their success to a single-minded goal and “an aggregation of marginal gains”. The same two factors led to this campaign's success. The previous year had provided impressive email performance growth, after fundamental changes to the design template, mobile accessibility and content. A new evaluation process reported on performance in fine detail every month. New insights had driven ROI up steadily. Continued growth was vital as Virgin Trains was finalising its franchise bid and needed to justify future revenue forecasts. This year it needed to increase financial KPIs further, focusing single-mindedly on ROI. The search for marginal gains focused on intense analysis and testing, studying every aspect of email performance and building on last year's learnings. Research showed that it was important to deliver value in every email.

How did creativity bring the strategy to life?