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Customer Stories How Palmetto Dunes Increased Email Performance by Over 40% After Switching to Inntopia Marketing Cloud

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For more than 12 years, Erica Sheets had been running digital marketing for Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort – an incredible beach and golf resort on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. She’s spent much of her tenure on email and website marketing which continue to be the strongest and most reliable drivers of conversions and calls.

photo of erica sheetsEven though social, display, video and other marketing channels were always changing and continued to be a challenge, she could always count on email and its consistent ROI. The only problem was their tools.

Her team had tried a higher-end email marketing platform as well as a resort-specific marketing CRM. In each case, however, she only caught a glimpse of what email could do while the true possibilities remained just out of reach. There were a lot of key components missing in each case.

Making the Move

Finally, she decided to go out and find a platform that could unlock what she knew email was capable of. And that is when she found Inntopia Marketing Cloud.

Once her team had signed on, she didn’t waste a moment. On day one with the launch of a brand new website, Palmetto Dunes flipped the switch on more than two dozen automated campaigns. Erica was so excited she called it “Christmas in February.” Since then, website traffic from email is up 44% YOY and click rates are up 49% YOY. Her team is thrilled.

“We’re sending the same volume of emails we did before and seeing significantly more traffic and conversions.”

Why was this possible? Four simple reasons.

Reason 1: A Platform That Believes in Email

Part of the problem with the other marketing CRM Erica had used was a lack of focus around email. When she started working with Inntopia Marketing Cloud, she found a team that had the same belief in this channel that she did. And a team who had built features and integrations and hired experts to maximize that potential for resorts.

“Before we moved to Inntopia Marketing Cloud, our deliverability would often be around 80%. Now it sits around 99%.”

Like Erica, the Inntopia Marketing Cloud team also knew automations were low hanging fruit and together they took advantage. Along with the long list of automated campaigns they launched initially, Erica was also able to build on high-engagement emails like confirmations to drive additional revenue and bookings.

Reason 2: The Sophie Effect

The next piece was her Strategic Account Manager, Sophie Sunderland. Instead of having access to a generic support line, Sophie was a personal, proactive partner Erica could work with to take her ideas and plans and make them a reality. This was a big help for a small, 3-person team like Erica’s.

“I’d share a concept with Sophie and her reply would always be, ‘That sounds great, I can do that for you.’ I wasn’t used to that and would clarify that I was happy to do it, but her proactive attitude and willingness to jump in and help has been priceless.”

screenshot of palmetto dunes email campaign

Reason 3: Planning & Analysis

It must also be said, however, just how much of a role Erica played in this success. She has an incredibly smart, thoughtful approach to email marketing strategy and planning. Her belief is simple:

“If you’re not looking at the data every week, you’re not learning anything.”

And she doesn’t just talk-the-talk, every month Erica logs into her Inntopia Marketing Cloud account to compile all their key email metrics into a single, detailed report. One of Palmetto Dunes’ most successful, ongoing campaigns came from carefully watching the numbers and noticing a pattern behind where conversions were coming from.

Reason 4: A Focus on Conversion

Speaking of conversion, revenue attribution reporting within Inntopia Marketing Cloud – and the mindset required to focus on that – has been a key point of emphasis for her and her team.

“It’s taken time to get the team to ignore the size of our list. I don’t care how big it is, I care how many open, click, and especially convert. You could send an email to 50,000 and have 10 convert, but send the right email to the right 1,000 and you could have 50 convert.”

Ignoring vanity metrics is hard for any marketing team, but their ability to measure conversions and focus on what moves that needle has made a huge difference.

What’s Next?

Sophie has been thrilled to see Palmetto Dunes already running so many automations, but both her and Erica see this as an even bigger opportunity going forward. Reporting is another point of emphasis. The more Erica can dig into her data, campaign performance, and trends, the more questions she has. Erica is also careful to point out, however, that you have to take things one step at a time.

“You don’t have to do it all at first. We started by building a year-long calendar, but it’s simply a matter of sending an email, seeing how you did, and applying what you learned to the next one. You have to be careful to not overthink things and get stuck in a rut worrying too much about content.”

With a strong start on Inntopia Marketing Cloud and all the pieces coming together, we’re as excited as Erica is to see where Palmetto Dunes’ email efforts go from here.

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Tyler Maynard
SVP of Business Development
Ski / Golf / Destination Research
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Doug Kellogg
Director of Business Development
Hospitality / Attractions
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