In less than 10 years of existence, the tailor-made travel specialist has made quite a lot of headway. Thanks, in particular, to its innovative, creative use of the email channel.
If there is one business sector that may seems to be “monopolized” by major players, and that went digital a long time ago, that sector is travel, what with its airlines, tour operators, travel bots and more.
Now, this has not prevented new players from emerging and quickly carving out a place for themselves, by offering a different experience and a healthy dose of innovation. And this is the case ofs Evaneos, a Dartagnan client since early 2017: 300,000 people have already enjoyed “tailor-made” travel, thanks to this young company. At the heart of its commercial success, which extends well beyond the boundaries of France, is email, the #1 support channel for the customers/travelers of Evaneos.
Evaneos, a travel success story made in France
The company’s visibility is such that it’s hard to believe that it’s only 10 years old. And yet Evaneos, one of the gems of French Tech, was, well and truly, created in 2009, by Eric La Bonnardière and Yann Wibaux, two co-founders with more technical backgrounds… but, above all, who love to travel.
Their idea was to create a travel service that would offer the kind of experiences that they, themselves, were interested in: a real immersion in the atmosphere of the country being visited. To achieve this result, Evaneos was designed as a marketplace that would connect local travel agencies (that have the best knowledge of their destinations and what they have to offer) with travelers.
By considerably simplifying the “itinerary” taken by a travel customer, Evaneos allows them to do more than buy a “standard” travel package from a catalog, instead giving them the option to tailor their stays.
160 destinations and five main markets: A real focus on international
Evaneos now serves 160 destinations, with 1,300 of those local partner agencies. The start-up (which isn’t really one, not any more) employs a staff of 180 and operates on five main markets from its home base in Paris:
- France, which still accounts for 60% of its revenue
- English-speaking countries (UK and North America)
- Germany, Austria and Switzerland
- plus the “new, developing markets” of the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.
And after its recent fundraising action (€70 million in early September 2018), Evaneos will continue to ramp up its internationalization.
More diversified, engaging creations
“At Evaneos, CRM historically meant email, first and foremost, which we used for customer acquisition, as a priority,” observes Marie Cavillon, CRM Manager at Evaneos. The strategy was rolled out with some success: nearly one million people appear in Evaneos’s databases.
Email is still just as essential but, over time, the company has felt the need to:
- diversify its creations, to better address its recipients at different stages of their journey
- improve their quality, for an enhanced user experience
- maximize the deliverability and engagement of each campaign.
In parallel, Evaneos has spread into other channels (its website, of course, as well as social media, etc.), which also contribute to its CRM strategy. And it has also done substantial work on its brand, to harmonize its messaging.
It was within this context that Evaneos chose the Dartagnan solution to design its email campaigns. Our email builder allowed the teams to both:
- boost their performance with more polished creations (better UX) and an optimized, “clean” code (better deliverability)
- enhance their agility, in terms of campaign design, creation and adaptation.
Evaneos: Triggers that work for a long sales cycle
“As a general rule, travel – and its Evaneos-style tailor-made version, in particular – involves high shopping carts with relatively high price tags and a low frequency of purchase and repurchase,” expounds Marie Cavillon.
By definition, these are very high-involvement purchases. A conversion doesn’t happen with the wave of a wand, and the process tends to be fairly lengthy… Hence, the need for Evaneos to offer content of the utmost quality.
A well-honed welcome pack
This need is materialized, starting with its welcome pack. That sequence, which has been carefully developed by the tour organizer, aims to both raise the consumer’s awareness of the Evaneos concept and start to “feed” travel interests to them.
Between the Evaneos concept and how it works, the types of travel that the start-up offers, the use of local expert agents and, finally, a series of guarantees for reassurance: the Evaneos welcome pack serves to remind its recipient of the comparative advantages of the service.
Reactivation, birthdays and feedback: A comprehensive range of triggers
Over and above this welcome sequence, the very concept of Evaneos necessitated a careful design of triggers, in order to eventually convert leads into customers. Some of these are classics, like reactivation emails (after three months without an interaction or one year after receiving a price quote that was not converted) and feedback (during the planning phase and after the trip). But others are specific to the tour organizer. For example, round birthdays (30, 40, 50, etc.) trigger an email six months before the momentous occasion, encouraging the future traveler to create a travel fund to help finance the trip of their dreams.
Transactional emails at the heart of customer relations
One last kind of email is vital to Evaneos’s relations with its travelers, the kind that Marie Cavillon calls “trip planning” emails. “From the start of the dialogue between the local agency and the customer, and up until the post-travel email, all discussions go through our B2B platform, which was created and made available to the local agents, in order to help them handle the file,” explains Marie Cavillon. “This is vital for us to be able to ensure that everything is going as planned, before, during and after the trip.”
Nowadays, these emails are the only ones that are created using an in-house tool, rather than Dartagnan. One of Marie Cavillon’s goals in the coming months will be to switch all of those transactional messages over to our email builder, to improve the quality and flexibility of the sequences.
A “multi-location” marketing and CRM team
To design, optimize and set all of these campaigns to music, Evaneos has set up a very lean structure: within the cross-market marketing team, the CRM team is made up of three people (in addition to Marie Cavillon, Campaign Manager & Data Analyst Agnès and CRM Apprentice Akshita). They are the ones who decide on the choice of tools, the campaigns’ target audiences and their sequencing.
Messages and tone adapted to each market
However, each country’s Marketing Manager then has full latitude to define their messages and creations. Those country managers, who are always native to the destination, “were chosen for their knowledge of both the market – they know what local customers are looking for in terms of travel – and the marketing levers that work best there,” assures Marie Cavillon.
To go into detail, the same offer sent to American and English (or German and Swiss German) leads will be adapted, in terms of the tone and reassurance elements employed, etc.
The German, British, Spanish, Italian and Swedish adaptations on the welcome email show that there are many variations between them.
More creative (and easier-to-implement) campaigns with Dartagnan
Before using our email builder, Evaneos had a single template and often repeated the same patterns. As a result, the teams’ ability to give free rein to their expression and make full use of their latitude in designing a newsletter that would be truly adapted to their target audiences, was severely hindered.
Marie Cavillon appreciates that, “with Dartagnan, the teams can now capitalize on what other, more ‘mature’ countries have already tried, in terms of design, thanks to the tool’s modular system.” The added bonus is a real time savings, but also better overall consistency throughout Evaneos.
Consistent email > web journeys
The young company made it a mission to provide structure to its messages, with major work launched on its branding. A dedicated content team defined all of the guidelines to follow, across all Evaneos media, with regard to:
- visuals (single image bank, image tones, filters allowed or not, etc.)
- calls-to-action (form, dimensions, button colors, etc.).
The goal was to develop a real Evaneos “signature” that would be consistent across of the company’s channels and markets. And, for CRM, to offer a consistent experience at every point of contact.
Creative, collaborative reviews
To ensure compliance with this new brand identity, Evaneos set of a simple, yet highly effective, system for reviewing new campaigns. Every new creation is shared on a dedicated Slack channel, to which the CRM and content teams have access.
There are two advantages to performing these creative / graphic campaign reviews on Slack: the people who developed the brand identity can ensure that the emails stay “on track,” while the CRM teams are able to effectively compare their ideas.
Final assessment: Time saved and new opportunities
For Marie Cavillon, who had previously experienced email marketing campaign creation involving an agency, her assessment of Dartagnan has been more than positive. “Creating an email typically took us a week, from brief to integration. With Dartagnan, the process is much faster: the brief comes more quickly, because most of the emails are pre-structured. And integration is no longer necessary, because Dartagnan has provided us with clean code that has been optimized for all reading environments and for deliverability.”
Dynamic feeds, videos and user-centric journeys in Evaneos’s sights
This does not mean that Evaneos doesn’t need staff with technical skills to further enhance the results of its email marketing program. But the tour organizer really plans to accelerate and hire for more strategic aspects, and less so, for simple email quality control.
As a matter of fact, the company is currently planning to hire a developer, to provide additional expertise on deliverability issues (which are crucial for all transactional and trip-planning emails), take personalization options even farther through dynamic feeds (supported by Dartagnan) and work on Evaneos’s database.
The challenge will be to continuously boost user-centricity and innovate with regard to the email content sent out: for example, the start-up is considering incorporating video into its emails.