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Chiquita Bananas? interactive recipes drive 52pc email engagement on mobile

Chiquita Bananas tapped into the interest in quick-fix snacks with a recent campaign that served interactive recipes and enabled recipients to check off ingredients needed from a grocery store, resulting in 52 percent of email engagement stemming from mobile.

The food marketer introduced a series of Minions-themed mobile-optimized recipes to drive email acquisition and increase engagement across its digital properties. The easily digestible content ? which featured a shopping list for necessary recipe ingredients ? received positive feedback from users, especially those belonging to highly segmented groups, such as individuals with gluten-free diets.

?Since January, we've run about three times the number of campaigns involving interactive recipe content compared to what we saw in 2015,? said Kevin Almeida, mobile marketing strategist at FunMobility, the agency behind the campaign. ?Consumer feedback on the topic is pretty clear: they want to get more of these recipes.

?When consumers come right out and tell you what sort of marketing content is going to work, it's a good idea to listen.?

Serving up relevant content
Chiquita Bananas sought to entice its target audience of mothers with children ages four to 12 by serving them interactive and fun recipes. Rather than sending out static recipes with little engagement value, FunMobility developed content that encouraged individuals to check off any required ingredients still needed from a grocery store before emailing themselves the custom shopping list.

Each recipe also contained estimates for prep time and cook time, as well as a directions checklist. For example, one recipe for Chiquita Banana Minion Cupcakes called for yellow food coloring gel, mashed Chiquita Bananas, marshmallows and whipped cream, among other items.

Consumers could tap the box next to each ingredient already in their cooking repertoire to ensure it stayed off the list for products that still needed to be purchased. Once the recipe was made, users could check off simple directions upon their completion, such as ?Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack.?

Per Mr. Almeida, by A/B testing comparable placements in newsletters, FunMobility discovered that interactive recipes experienced approximately equal engagement as high-cost, high-value calls-to-action, such as sweepstakes entries.

Mobile users accounted for 52 percent of email engagement, with the rest consisting of desktop users.

Additionally, segmented individuals had much higher email open rates ? hovering between 38.3 percent and 59.3 percent ? while their click-through rates clocked in between 9.9 percent to 16.7 percent.

Gluten-free consumers were the most engaged segment, representing a rapidly-growing group of individuals that is still somewhat underserved by many food and beverage companies.

Benefits for retail partners
While brands spearheading the interactive recipe campaigns will undoubtedly experience higher email acquisition and engagement across their social media, Web and mobile properties, various retail partners may also reap benefits from these strategies.

?Retailers stand to benefit even more than the individual brand,? Mr. Almeida said. ?You're talking about content that, by its very nature, is designed to drive foot traffic and increased cart size by solving a daily consumer problem.

?For example, if Chiquita gives its audience a recipe for baking holiday-themed banana cupcakes, then participating retail partners will be promoting all the other ingredients they carry, as well.?

This could open the path for more retail cross-partnerships, especially among brands highly active in the mobile sector.

Chiquita Bananas employed a mobile marketing blitz over the past year as it aimed to ramp up email acquisition and brand loyalty.

Its summertime campaign with Universal Pictures? Minions film resulted in a 50 percent return rate to the image recognition-enabled content, as well as a 10 percent uptick in subscriptions to the brand?s mobile-optimized newsletter (see story).

However, the interactive recipe campaign may have proven even more valuable to its target consumers, due to the relevancy of the material.

Other marketers seeking to leverage interactive recipe campaigns must first ensure their platforms are optimized for the technology and content.

?You need the ability to serve dynamic URLs to your database,? Mr. Almeida said. ?Whenever we send out a newsletter that includes a link to interactive brand content like games/recipes/coupons, etc., that link is automatically appended with the contact's UID. This lets us match the user to his or her behavior.

?Second, you need to have a landing page with interactive features,? he said. ?Anyone can build static recipe content with ingredients and directions, but without interactive events to track, there's no way to tell how individual users are engaging with that content.

?The result is a CRM program that uses fun, interactive user experiences to segment a database, increasing conversions with personalized content.?