With so much focus on social media for marketing and customer service these days, your email campaigns may have taken a back seat. But successful marketing is driven by a mix of complementing strategies — and email is still one of your best tools.
Email marketing is a very effective way to build guest loyalty, encourage brand engagement and increase direct bookings through well-targeted communications. It’s cost efficient and easily automated, making it an ideal marketing technique for busy hoteliers without a lot of time on their hands.
So, without further ado, here are our top eight tips for maximizing conversions from your property’s email marketing campaigns.
1. Grow Your Email Lists Organically
Permission-based email marketing ensures that you are communicating with prospects and customers that genuinely want to hear from you, which essentially means that you’ve already got one foot in the door. Growing your email lists organically is important for maximizing engagement and for staying on the right side of anti-spam laws like CASL, too. Just because a guest gave you their email address in order to make a reservation doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to receive future communications. Likewise, you might not receive email addresses for guests that book through travel agencies and OTAs.
Get your customers to actively join your email list by:
Adding a simple sign-up form to your website. It can be as simple as an email address field and a “Submit” button. Provide incentive like “Join our email list to receive special offers and inside tips!”
Including an opt-in checkbox, or a link to your sign-up form, in your post-stay survey. For example, “Check this box to join our email list to receive special offers for future stays.”
Placing cards in guestrooms. Consider adding a note to your welcome cards, inviting guests to join your email list.
And just as it is important to gain customers’ permission for email marketing, it’s also necessary to provide opt-out instructions on every email communication you send.
2. Optimize Emails for Mobile
With nearly half of all emails opened on mobile devices, your emails need to look good on small screens or they might not be given the time of day. Inc.com recently shared five quick tips for optimizing your emails for mobile, and it’s much easier than you think. Suggestions include using an email service provider that offers responsive templates, and avoiding large image files and long paragraphs. You can also encourage your customers to share your emails by including social sharing buttons. This is where your email marketing and social media strategies can really complement each other.
3. Create a Schedule
A successful email marketing campaign is all about timing — well, much of it is. Decide how frequently and when you are going to send emails and more or less stick to the schedule. Email too often and you risk annoying your customers and losing subscribers; don’t email enough and they might forget who you are.
In addition to your pre- and post-stay emails (confirmation emails, pre-arrival emails, thank-you-for-staying emails), you could send newsletter sign-ups a welcome email with an offer of a free drink at the bar as a thank you for signing up. Then, going forward, keep in touch with your subscribers whenever you have something truly interesting to say or offer. You could boost slow seasons with special rates and upsell during busy seasons by promoting your F&B or spa services.
When it comes to the clock, Pebble Design offers their insight into the best time and day of the week to send marketing emails in the hospitality industry.
Pre- and post-stay emails, welcome-to-the-club emails for new sign-ups, monthly newsletters, special offers… you’re too busy for all of this! That’s where automation comes in. Email newsletter services and automated email marketing systems can be integrated with your PMS and help manage your email campaigns through list management, customizable templates, scheduling, social media promotion and results tracking. WebRezPro PMS offers the ability to automate pre- and post-stay emails and also integrates with email marketing services like Constant Contact and Guestfolio for streamlined, professional email marketing campaigns that don’t take up too much of your time.
Just because email marketing lends well to automation doesn’t mean your emails should appear like a generic mass mail-out. Personalize your emails as much as possible to build relationships and encourage engagement. Start by knowing who your customers are and target your marketing to them. For example, repeat guests that utilize your on-site spa services would most likely love to know about your new spa package. Use your PMS data to segment your contact list by corporate clients, spa users, family travelers, etc. to be sure you are sending the right content to the right customers. You don’t want to send corporate discounts to vacationers; sending irrelevant information is a sure-fire way to lose subscribers. Also, address emails to the individual (the process of which can also be automated — clever, huh?) and sign off from an actual person.
6. Deliver Great Content
Great content = stuff that benefits your customers. This doesn’t always have to be discounted rates and services; local “insider” information, like exciting events, new attractions or destination tips, gives your customers food for thought and could put your property front of mind when planning their next holiday.
Both prospective and new customers also appreciate being first to know about new services and amenities, like your awesome, renovated pool area with brand new poolside bar opening next month. Your local staycation customers would no doubt like to be privy to the wine-tasting event you’re holding soon. Think about who you’re targeting (point #5 above) and what would interest them.
Make sure you include links or buttons (buttons are better, especially on mobile devices) with calls to action, like “Book Romance Package Now” or “RSVP to Winter Wine Taster.”
Visuals are important, too. While you should avoid large image files in optimizing for mobile, photos catch the eye and lure readers in. Whether it’s that newly renovated pool sparkling in the sun, the latest addition to your menu, or your smiling staff, photos help nurture relationships with your customers and inspire sharing on social media.
Note: be sure to link to the Web version of your email in case the actual email doesn’t display properly. Most email newsletter/marketing services include this feature.
7. Gather Feedback
Short post-stay email surveys are part of great customer service and provide a marketing opportunity, too. As long as there’s no mention of (or link to) an offer or promotion, surveys are not considered a commercial electronic message and are therefore exempt from spam laws. You can include a checkbox in the survey for customers to opt in to receive future email communications from your property if they haven’t already. WebRezPro PMS integrates with Revinate Post-Stay Surveys for automated post-stay survey communications that can also be posted to online review sites.
8. Test & Track
To measure the success of your email marketing campaigns, track all opens, click-throughs, enquiries and bookings stemming from your emails, which is easily done through your automated email marketing system. See what works best by changing up subject lines, calls to action, message length, images, types of discounts/packages, email frequency, day, time, etc., and tracking the results.
And one last piece of advice: look at your emails from your customers’ perspective and ask yourself what’s really in it for them? If the answer is obvious, your email marketing campaign is bound to be a success.