When not clambering up a ladder to hang decorations for the next wedding celebration, Helen Gill, co-founder of the events company Dine, dedicates time to managing the company’s email marketing operation.
“As in most small and medium-sized enterprises, you end up doing a bit of everything,” she says. Keeping up communications with thousands of contacts is vital to the company’s efforts at attracting new business, and email marketing is one of the simplest and fastest ways to target potential customers.
Running weddings, parties and corporate events at spectacular venues across the north of England, such as stately homes and a Jacobean mansion in Leeds, Dine was founded in 1998.
It began by using email to send out newsletters and communications to prospective customers, and in 2012, switched to the Mailchimp email marketing platform, which has helped it keep it in touch with potential customers through beautifully executed, carefully targeted emails.
“What we love about Mailchimp is that it is so straightforward to use. It is really easy to slot photos and images into the emails and move blocks of copy around, and to make it look professional. It saves us loads of time, which means that we don’t need to hire an external agency to take care of our communications. We can keep it all in-house,” says Gill.
To gather the contact information of prospective clients, Dine offers visitors to its site a free wedding planning guide if they give their email address. The company then uses Mailchimp’s email automations, allowing a series of communications to be sent out with progressive messaging. Setting up the automations is easy, as they can be programmed on the Mailchimp dashboard.
“People get one email with their free wedding planning guide, and after that, they will automatically be sent a series of four emails with different messages. It all takes place in the background, so we don’t have to worry about it. Once you’ve set the automations up, the system takes care of the whole thing for you,” says Gill.
The Mailchimp platform offers a range of functions that make it easy to run email marketing campaigns. For instance, A/B testing enables companies to send email campaigns to different customers to get a better understanding of their audience’s preferences. And instead of creating emails from scratch, a library of templates can be accessed that can be customised to suit individual needs, creating emails that look fantastic on any device.
During the Covid-19 lockdowns, large weddings were put on hold and Dine started taking advantage of more of Mailchimp’s features. The company launched a lockdown dinner club where friends and family could enjoy a dinner party together over Zoom. Later, it used Mailchimp features to build up the customer base and launched a range of events such as afternoon teas, murder mystery evenings and Santa’s grotto experiences.
“The big one at the moment is Santa’s grotto,” says Gill. Email has been vital for building contacts with interested customers, she adds. “We know they’re interested in our events, so we can let them know when we’ve got something new coming up.”
Catering to a variety of customers is helped by Mailchimp’s system of tags, which can be used to identify customer groups and send them tailored emails. Dine’s customers are grouped into various segments such as corporate clients, people coming for afternoon teas or dinners, or young couples looking for wedding venues. Attaching tags to their email addresses puts them into segments so they can be targeted with different emails.
“You can tag them with a variety of information, such as where you’ve got their email address from, what they’re interested in or the reason that you’re emailing them. Tagging helps you really drill down and target different categories of people for different reasons,” says Gill.
Another helpful function is sending out automated emails to people who come to the website but, for one reason or another, abandon their shopping cart. Gill says that customers may go through the purchase process then mistakenly think they have paid for a service but in reality, they have failed to complete the purchase. Mailchimp will automatically email them to say they haven’t finished paying and prompt them to complete. The email prompt is effective in bumping up completions.
Gill says that Dine is still exploring the wide range of services that Mailchimp offers. “We had a wedding sales specialist come in to do a marketing course and she said she couldn’t believe we weren’t making more use of Mailchimp’s functionality. She gave us lots of fun ideas on how to sell weddings. It’s really easy to do and only requires a small amount of technical knowledge. You can do such a lot in half an hour and it really improves your business.”
Mailchimp is the number one email marketing and automations brand*. With plans suitable for every size of business and database, marketers are able to send the right message at the right time to convert more customers, get AI-assisted suggestions to make content more engaging, and set up automated workflows to cross-sell products, recover abandoned carts and to help drive more loyalty and sales.
*Based on competitor brands’ publicly available data on worldwide numbers of customers in 2021/2022.
The views, information and opinions expressed in this article are those of the people interviewed and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Intuit, Mailchimp or any of its cornerstone brands or employees. The primary purpose of this article is to educate and inform.