Nonprofit & memberships

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s welcome email drives ROAS to 2,034%

  • Open rates

  • click-to-open rates

  • increase in ROAS (return on ad spend)

Dotdigital | Royal Botanical Gardens Case Study - Featured Thumbnail
Kew Gardens is a major international and top London visitor attraction. The organization’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, its wild botanic garden, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019, whilst Wakehurst is home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world.


Previously, subscribers would start receiving marketing emails straight away, without a welcome email to introduce them to Kew. Research showed most subscribers knew little about Kew as an organization; and there was a breadth of information and content out there – something that could add significant value to their experience. Moreover, an effective welcome email would set the customer journey off on the right footing, paving the way for more engagement with the brand.


In December 2019, the Kew team launched a welcome email for new subscribers. Engaging them with a welcome email at the start of their digital journey helps showcase the breadth of what Kew does, and provides an opportunity for personalization. Family and science audiences are a priority for the organization; and now subscribers clicking that content are sent personalized content from the beginning of their journey.

The team decided to bring Kew to life with surprising facts and worked closely with the in-house designer to develop colorful graphics to tell the story in a more visually engaging way. Combined with an animated header using photography from the gardens, it creates a striking and welcoming email to show new subscribers that there is more to Kew than they may have realized.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organization, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation, and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.

KEW found that subscribers who had received the welcome email were 48% more likely to open one of Kew’s first three marketing emails in 2020 than those who didn’t.

Dotdigital | Royal Botanical Gardens Case Study - Quote image


As hoped, Kew’s new welcome email drove an increase in engagement from new subscribers. The organization’s first iteration achieved a 62% open rate and 20% click-to-open rate, double its 2019 averages.

But the new strategy hasn’t just boosted engagement; ticket sales from the welcome email have led to a 2,034% increase in ROAS (return on ad spend).

This isn’t something the organization was expecting, since over 50% of new subscribers signed up while buying tickets to visit Kew, so have just spent money with the organization.

On top of this, recipients of the welcome email have shown more engagement with marketing emails than non-recipients. The brand found that subscribers who had received the welcome email were 48% more likely to open one of Kew’s first three marketing emails in 2020 than those who didn’t. This just goes to show that making a great first impression improves wider marketing engagement and performance.