marketing: UX writing


Case study: User-centered email


The Challenge

As a writer and project lead, I was tasked with managing a marketing campaign to 11,000+ high school juniors and seniors of a certain ACT range. The campaign was comprised of six emails, three mail direct pieces, three targeted display ads, and a landing page. This campaign would run twice, so I needed to carefully track user data to gain insights in the second iteration.

The time between the two campaigns was very brief, so I needed to rapidly iterate as we progressed. This was the first time a campaign had been run using these three elements together-- email, direct mail and targeted digital advertising-- so it was uncharted territory with a rough estimate baseline to build off of.


The business goal was to increase inquiries about the college through a form on the landing page. To do this effectively, I knew I needed to find out what our target users would be interested in knowing about college. I reviewed personas; studied insights from a recent top-task user survey on our website that provided data on what visitors were most interested in learning or doing; performed informal interviews with admissions recruiters who interacted with the target user frequently; and analyzed the results of previous marketing campaigns to similar target audiences.

This user research clearly showed that messages that addressed the cost of going to college were of high importance to the users. To translate that insight into this project, I created the campaign to lead with a clear scholarship message in the key first touch-points. I also designed creative visual elements and content that featured links to the college's scholarship finder tool and variable data in each marketing piece featuring the user's name for a personalized experience.


We proved the scholarship message in the first mail piece and email to be successful with the highest open rate and click through rate of any email in that recruiting season. The high performance of this campaign validated a user-centric approach to marketing. We were able to improve results in the following campaigns based on this user-centered model.