Ibotta Boosts Email Engagement With Strategic GIFs

Cash-back shopping app Ibotta partnered with Appboy, utilizing its CRM and lifecycle engagement platform to assess the impact of its multichannel welcome campaigns, including the use of visual content like GIFs in email messages.

Multivariate testing allows brands to analyze which combination of factors will perform the best in a marketing campaign. 

Recruiting a new email subscriber or app download is only part of the marketing battle. The next step is the onboarding process and the conversion of new users into long-term loyalists. Through its partnership with Appboy, Ibotta tested creative solutions to onboarding new customers, boosting Ibotta’s email open rates by 43% and new user activation by 107%. 

Appboy collects and ingests data on how customers engage with brands, and then leverages those insights to develop more personalized, automated marketing campaigns. The intelligence mobile marketing automation company counts iHeart Media, Gannett, Urban Outfitters, and Shutterfly on its client roster.

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Derek Cann, senior manager of marketing automation at Ibotta, says Appboy helped the company considerably scale up its testing efforts. Now the company can test multiple series-based email welcome campaigns simultaneously, and key activation metrics have been improved in a short period of time.

During the month following download, Ibotta tested against six new user cohorts and carried out testing in connection with 97 possible elements, with up to four variants of each message being compared. Ibotta utilized Appboy to test email marketing, in-app messages, and push notifications.

Cann says GIFs performed better in almost every situation tested, except for the rare occasion when the short video was determined to be too distracting. He explains that Ibotta now leverages GIFs in three types of scenarios: surprise and delight moments, to display urgency, and to visualize an in-app task.

There are many moments, Cann says, in which animated GIFs can celebrate user wins -- "from the first time a user is rewarded with cash back, to getting a sizable amount of money back when booking a hotel, or successfully receiving a referral bonus after an invited friend has used the app." For example, Cann says Ibotta sends an email with money raining down after a user redeems their first cash-back shopping coupon.

Ibotta also leverages GIFs to illustrate urgency. For example, the company will display a ticking clock if a welcome bonus is expiring soon. 

The final scenario where Ibotta now incorporates GIFs into its messaging is for education and tutorials. Ibotta will often turn to animation to display how to perform certain tasks in-app, or to educate about the rollout of a new feature, says Cann. 

“Technology does nothing but allow you to be more creative,” says Marissa Aydlett, vice president of marketing at Appboy. Marketing can become highly complex, she says -- and a complex marketing stack may interfere with the productivity of an email marketing team.

Creativity, she says, can make marketing messages more relatable.

Aydlett says personalization is “all about being relevant and contextual,” and that timing is an important ingredient for context.  

“Time is personal,” says Aydlett. “If you’re not real-time, you’re late.”

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