Marriott Rewards' Award-Winning Year-in-Review Email - Why it worked and 3 takeaways for marketers

Regardless of vertical, December can be a challenging time of year for email marketers–with an overload of holiday-related messaging, standing out amidst the inbox clutter requires some serious strategy and creativity. This is especially true of the travel and hospitality vertical, when bookings are consistently lower in December than in the rest of the year. Despite these challenges, the team at Yes Lifecycle Marketing put together one of the most successful campaigns for Marriott Rewards to date, leading to an 86.1% increase in revenue over the previous two Decembers. Here are some of the key considerations that went into producing this award-winning campaign.

1. Unexpected Design

Out-of-the-box content calls for out-of-the-box design. I felt that breaking from the standard promotional content of MR emails to focus on the accomplishments of the member and the rewards program warranted a break from our standard design treatments, which are typically full of vivid, full-color photography accompanied by descriptive, yet succinct copy. Abandoning colorful photography and articles in favor of an infographic-style, all-blue design full of vector illustrations, duotone images, and large numerals made it immediately clear to members upon opening that this was a special campaign.

2. All About You (the Member)

Another unexpected component and contributing factor to the success of the Year in Review email is the introduction–a personalized video animation. We provided the creative direction and content requirements to Wylei, who produced a very unique and celebratory video that dynamically populates with the recipient’s name and key accomplishments throughout the year (nights and cities stayed, points earned, etc.)–which are also contained in the body of the email. While dynamic content is not unusual in email marketing, personalized content in the form of a video remains a rarity–sure to captivate members’ attention amidst a sea of batch & blast holiday promotions.

 3. …But Kind of About Us (Without Boasting)

While the intro of the email celebrates the accomplishments of the member, the remainder of the Year in Review campaign showcases the success of the Marriott Rewards program. However, instead of providing a dry list of statistics, the info is presented in the form of compelling graphics that are sprinkled among fun facts, like member favorite drinks and cities. More importantly, the tone throughout the campaign is that “we” (the members and the rewards program) accomplished these things together–a far cry from the promotions thinly veiled as insincere holiday greetings that we are so accustomed to seeing this time of year.

Ending on an inspirational note with an animated GIF featuring exotic locales, the Year in Review email proves that boundary-pushing design coupled with a sincere focus on the consumer is a strategy for success.

Author Bio

Afton McCann

Afton brings over 6 years of design experience helping major brands promote themselves in the digital world. At Yes Lifecycle Marketing, she leads the creative vision of the Marriott Rewards email program and is passionate about designs that drives results. An Iowa native and graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Afton resides outside of Boulder, CO where she lives a very active life full of mountain exploration, sports, and drumming.