The Reviews Are In: Angie's List Successfully Leverages Emotion in Email

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The online ratings and reviews site relies on technology to remove the guesswork from crafting the most engaging subject lines.

Coming up with the perfect subject line can stir up many emotions—like jubilation or frustration. Fortunately, the marketers at Angie's List have been feeling triumph rather than disappointment. The online ratings and reviews site is using Persado's persuasive language technology to automatically generate emotionally engaging subject lines and drive conversion.

Communicating through email

As an organization built online, Angie's List relies on email to steer three million U.S. household users to its website. The site's marketers wanted to find new ways to boost open rates and conversion—in one recent case, purchases of Angie's List's localized e-commerce deals.

“We're definitely a technology-driven company,” says Allyson Reagan, Angie's List's director of email marketing. “We're always looking for the next innovative partnership or the next piece of technology that's going to help us drive our business.”

So, Angie's List implemented persuasion automation solution Persado Enterprise this past February and Persado's new self-service application, Persado Go, four months ago to optimize its email subject lines.

Learning the lingo

Persado Enterprise and Persado Go are designed to automatically generate emotionally engaging marketing copy. Angie's List uses Persado Enterprise for its Big Deal emails—a daily deal send that goes out to its unengaged and engaged subscribers—and Persado Go for acquisition, engagement, and renewal campaigns.

Here's how it works: Using the technology, Angie's List's marketers set parameters for the soon-to-be optimized email, such as whether it would be sent to active users or unengaged users and whether it would be promoting a particular product or service. Based on these guidelines the software would then automatically generate 16 subject lines conveying different emotions. For instance, the subject line,":-) A TREAT FOR YOU! {FirstName}, You Just Lucked Out: Amazing Discounts Inside" ties in gratitude and luck while the subject line ":-) Nice! {FirstName}, You've Earned Yourself a **Really BIG Deal**" conveys excitement and achievement.

After marketers from Angie's List test the select 16 subject lines in market, Persado's software analyzes which ones performed the best, and then engineer an optimal message, says Julia Spano, Persado's director of marketing. “It's a compilation of the winning emotions, product features, style, and positioning that we engineer together to be broadcast,” she explains, adding that the compilation of winning elements is proven to be the most persuasive message.

But the testing doesn't end there. Marketers from Angie's List test the engineered subject line against the one that performed the best out of the 16 and a control.

Earning glowing reviews

Since implementing the technology, Angie's List has seen a more than 100% lift in conversion. And by refining which emotions best align with certain campaigns, its marketing team has boosted engagement and conversion among inactive subscribers.

“If you can hit the person at the right time, with the right language, and it's right emotion, they're more than likely going to click on the email and open it,” Reagan says.

She notes that the whole experience has reinforced the importance of multivariate testing. “This has opened up a whole new door for us,” Reagan says. “It's given us all of these new opportunities, new ideas, new thoughts that we're testing and are working.”


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