Social media has, without a doubt, become the go-to marketing channel for travel and tourism brands in 2016. Naturally so. It’s a fantastic way to increase exposure, traffic, and a loyal fan base. But in the midst of the social craze, businesses have relegated one of the most potentially lucrative means of marketing to the side-lines. That is, email marketing.
Not only do 91% of us use email daily. In fact, 73% of marketers agreed that email marketing is vital to their business. With these facts, it’s clear that when used properly, email marketing can be a huge boon to any brand – particularly those within tourism and travel. Thing is, it isn’t being used properly. Just take a look at what some of the industry’s biggest companies are getting wrong. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
No matter how basic or mature your email marketing process is – the following will address the most common mistakes in email marketing – and how to remedy them so your efforts are pulling in more of the good stuff – clicks, prospects and new bookings. Let’s go!
1. Your emails don’t tie into an overall campaign
Click. That’s the sound of thousands of marketers hitting the ‘send’ button on a weekly basis. But often, it’s a routine that gets repeated without much thought. Email marketing is only truly effective when tied in with larger-scale goals and strategies. Where customer data can hone your approach, and goals can define what results you want to see.
The Solution: See email marketing as an important piece of the puzzle. Emails aren’t isolated one-offs. They should be carefully calibrated to where your customers are in their cycle – be it a loyal devotee or simply a curious browser.
Email marketing is also a small part of your ‘sales funnel’ – and your ideal outcome (e.g. awareness, subscriptions, purchases, conversions) at the bottom of your funnel will define everything that came before it (sales emails, blog content, web content, social media adverts, etcetera).
2. You don’t target audiences specifically
The bad thing about a scattershot approach is that it rarely hits. The number of broad, generic offers in anyone’s email inbox is astounding. Naturally, 99% of them are ignored. In ‘playing it safe’ with your email marketing, you’re unwittingly sending yourself to the bottom of the pile – along with the other half-hearted marketing efforts. It is true, however, that different businesses will have different strategies depending on their aims. While DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations) and brands will have more unsegmented databases because they usually have more general goals (e.g. raise awareness), the likes of e-commerce businesses are more likely to segment and narrow down their focus.
The Solution: Your sales emails should be snipers. First, you should be addressing customers personally – with first names in subject lines and content. Make each email as targeted as possible. In creating your mailing lists, segmentation is a fantastic way to achieve this. Location, age group and interests are examples of basic variables. Data from previous campaigns can also be used. E.g. you can segment based on who showed interest in a specific location, activity, deal or product. You can also send targeted emails based on browsing activity – something that the likes of AirBnB do with great success.
3. You’re getting the frequency wrong
Emailing your list every day? How about never? Sending automated emails at strange hours? In all likelihood, you’re getting it wrong. And with frequency being highly important to the success of email marketing, you can’t afford to get it wrong. Truthfully, there is no ‘right’ frequency when it comes to the success of your email marketing strategy. The right frequency is unique to each company – and can only be discovered with experimentation, testing, and refining.
The Solution: Depending on the nature of your travel business, frequency might be different. For example, DMOs might email once every 2-4 weeks, whereas OTAs might email more frequently (1-2 times a week). This frequency can be gradually increased – but variables such as unsubscribes should be closely monitored to ensure changes aren’t putting your newsletter subscribers off. If your emails are relevant and valuable, frequency becomes a little less important. Just don’t spam your subscribers! Oh, and Tuesday and Thursday between 1-3pm are ideal times to send email newsletters.
4. You don’t review and refine your efforts
Sending the same old tired deals to the same old tired subscribers? Not adapting your email marketing strategy is an easy way to waste your money, their trust, and everybody’s time. By nature, email marketing is a continual experiment that requires continual tweaking. It also follows the dynamic evolution of your customer’s experience. Naturally, your efforts need to stay in sync with that experience.
The Solution: You should always track the statistics regarding your marketing efforts – and measure those against the success of your campaigns. Have a new idea? A/B testing. Make sure to review your automated campaigns every few months – keeping your emails up-to-date with your business’s larger-scale goals and your audience’s preferences. Refine, refine, and refine some more. Only then will your travel business achieve the campaign results you always hoped for.
Need help with your email marketing strategy? Get in touch with us, we’d love to hear from you.