Email Marketing Hacks for Hotels
There’s been a lot of talk over the last several years about how email is no longer an effective channel to use, but recent numbers from eMarketer say otherwise. According to a recent report, email ROI is still 122%, and 9 in 10 Americans still use email.
So, no matter what industry you find yourself in, email marketing is still a valuable and impactful engagement tool for sharing news, promotions, updates, deals and more with past and current guests. Below are some best practices to help you get the most out of your email marketing.
Don’t Buy an Email List
It may feel right to buy a large list of contacts you’ve never had any sort of relationship with, but in reality, it isn’t.
Aside from being illegal in most countries, buying a list and promoting hotel deals to people straightaway is a recipe for getting yourself banned from most email service providers like Hubspot, ActiveCampaign, and others.
When you subscribe to any email software service, you’re entering a collective ecosystem that’s shared between you and other companies. The data in the lists you buy tends to be inaccurate, and inaccurate data combined with a high level of spam complaints from customers can make it harder for your emails to get delivered over time. And because you’re sharing a service with other companies, you’ll make it more difficult for those other companies to deliver their email as well.
More importantly, if you buy a list of fresh recipients and send it out to them with no previous relationship established, most of these people won’t even read your carefully crafted offers, news, and deals because they never asked to speak with you in the first place.
I want you to say the following words with me, loud and proud: Relationships matter. Customer experience matters. The things we do to make our guests feel good about booking and staying with us mattesr.
How to Build a High-Quality Email List
The way forward from bringing your email contact list from zero to thousands is to build your list of fans organically by capturing email addresses when people book their stays, manage expectations and provide helpful information before they stay, build affinity during their lodging, and maintain a relationship with them after they leave.
Below are some ways you can build up a list of loyal, engaged fans. If you’re consistent in your efforts, your reputation for providing guests with an exceptional stay experience will span far across the land:
Add newsletter subscription and sharing buttons to your website and email templates.
Collect email addresses when people sign up to attend an event
Combine email marketing and social media marketing
Give existing clients and prospects a unique and compelling reason to stay with you (e.g., eco-friendly accommodations, free bikes, community engagement, free breakfast)
Put guest feedback on autopilot: Send an automated review request email shortly after guests checks out
Use an API to add Tripadvisor reviews and testimonials on your website
And most importantly, scrub your email list regularly.
Scrub Your Email Lists
Has someone ever asked to look at your email contact list and you thought, “Nay, you fool! Thar be dragons,” meaning the whole thing is so messy and full of bad data that it’s almost useless? If you answered yes, that’s a very clear sign that it’s time for a list scrub.
The best performing email lists are scrubbed on a quarterly or yearly basis, depending on the size of the list.
Start your list scrub off easy by removing any duplicate email addresses and filling in any blank fields you may have.
Next, find all your disengaged contacts (we usually define that as people who haven’t clicked or responded to our last 4 emails), place them into their own list segment, and exclude them from any of your current, general promotions.
Before you’re finished, plan to re-enage them through email and social campaigns designed specifically for them.
Build Engagement with the Right Offers and Messaging
The messages you send other people are the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign. For any message to be effective, though, you have to send it to the people who will care about it the most.
Take a look at your email marketing app to assess the open and click rates for your hotel email marketing campaigns. If your open and clickthrough rates are at a decline, that’s a sign that either your offer isn’t strong enough, or that you’re sending the wrong message to the wrong audience. Point blank, people may not care about the offer you’re sending them.
To figure out what’s going to get the people going, use A/B testing and an iterative approach to determine what subject lines, email content, and offers get the highest open rates, clickthroughs, and responses get the best response.
Play with the layout of the emails to see if placing the CTA button higher up in the email gets you more clickthroughs, and also check to see if your emails are mobile-friendly (I mean, come on, in 2019 they should be).
And in case you need a little more help figuring out what hotel guests are really looking for in 2020 and beyond, leverage social listening tools like Brandwatch and research from organizations like Mintel, and original customer research to build customer avatars. From there, create messaging each of those avatars will respond to, and then create genuine offers you can deliver on in your hotel marketing campaigns.
Segment Your Prospects and Create Content that Meets Their Unique Needs
Your prospects are all unique and diverse in their own ways, and it doesn’t make sense to send them all the same. One person may be looking for a place to stay with their family, another may be looking for a place to land on a business trip, and others may be looking for a place to host an event.
All very different situations and all very good reasons for dividing or segmenting your prospect email addresses into smaller, more focused groups that receive messages designed uniquely for their needs, pain points, and interests.
For example, if you’re a hotel in Orlando, Florida that’s planning to offer a discounted rate to encourage guests to stay in March, your best bet may be to send a family-focused message to people between 30-55 who have made bookings for larger groups and a more generic message to folks who have previously booked for a group of 1-2 people.
Take it one step further by leveraging marketing automation to include their first name or send them more offers when they meet a certain threshold.