Email newsletters are the perfect tool for the tech-savvy, proactive hotelier. Far from simply being spam email, well-crafted, they can be a powerful means of promoting your brand, boosting consumer engagement and boosting bookings. But how do you encourage your guests to sign up for your newsletter and see for themselves just how wonderful it is? Luckily, this is relatively straightforward.
Here are just a few things to bear in mind when trying to grow your subscriber base:
They don’t know what they’re missing
From discerning travellers used to staying in high-end luxury hotels to families looking for a cheap and cheerful break, everybody loves a bargain and so very few will turn their nose up at a special offered delivered straight to their email inbox. The problem is, however, that the majority of your prospective guests don’t know what they’re missing by not being on your newsletter subscriber list. So, be loud and proud about what people can get through signing up, and make sure this is reflected in your ‘call to action’. So, instead of having a small button saying ‘Subscribe to our Newsletter’ on your homepage, tweak this so it invites people to ‘Learn About Our Hottest Offers’ simply through sharing their contact details. By making it obvious to people that they stand to gain by getting your newsletter, they are much more likely not only to sign up but for actively look out for it landing in their inbox.
Make subscribers feel valued – and reap the benefits of word of mouth
Every hotelier knows that, while big-money marketing drives may certainly bring in new customers, word-of-mouth is far cheaper and, in many cases, just as effective. And, just as happy guests are often keen to tell their friends and families about the comfort on offer at one hotel or the excellent quality of cuisine served at a certain restaurant, so too are they often vocal when it comes to newsletters. Given this, it’s a good idea to adopt a ‘rewards-based strategy’ to your email marketing efforts. As well as discounts on a night’s stay, offer subscribers bonuses such as a free glass of champagne upon arrival or three courses for the price of two in your in-house restaurant. Once word gets around that your hotel likes to treat its loyal followers, you should start seeing an upturn in the number of people on your mailing list.
Give curious guests a sneak preview
As before, if a guest doesn’t know what they’re missing out on, they are unlikely to take action to sign up to your newsletter. Another effective way of remedying this situation is to offer them a sneak preview of one of your best newsletters, complete with eye-catching offers few travellers could refuse. Consider making use of pop-ups. As the name suggests, this is a small box that pops out on top of the screen. Here you can display a small section of a past newsletter, complete with a box for them to click if they are interested in learning more or signing up to be a part of the community. While it’s true that growing numbers of web-savvy consumers are growing tired of pop-ups, this mainly relates to third-party advertising. If it’s clear that the pop-up is from your own hotel and is, moreover, something that they may genuinely be interested in, they are just as likely to click to sign up as they are to hit the ‘back’ button.
Make effective use of social media
These days, only the most out-of-touch hotelier will lack a basic understanding of not just how social media works, but how it can bring in new and repeat business. As well as promoting your latest offers, channels such as Twitter and Facebook can be excellent tools when it comes to promoting your newsletter. Again, make it obvious what your social media followers have to gain from singing up for your newsletter. A simple call to action Tweet like ‘Join hundreds saving money on rooms by signing up to our newsletter’ can cause your mailing list to swell at no extra cost. You may also want to consider using Facebook, which gives you more room to spread your message, to give an occasional example of guests who have benefitted from being mailing list subscribers. A small post detailing how one happy couple enjoyed a cut-price break thanks to the discount code they saw at the bottom of a monthly newsletter may do more to increase your readership more than any paid advertising campaign might. And don’t forget to keep up the good work!
According to the Direct Marketing Association, the average email marketing database drops off by around 22 per cent each year. Whether this is due to the fact that many people change their email addresses rather than they being fed up with receiving messages from your hotel is largely irrelevant. What is important is that this natural development is noted and that action is taken to remedy it. This means, of course, that constantly updating your email database is key. So, alongside sticking with asking guests that are checking out to be sure to sign up to a newsletter, plus carrying out all of the action points detailed above, it also pays to invest in a little maintenance.
At its simplest, this can be keeping an eye on any incoming emails, either bouncebacks indicating an email address is no longer active or direct correspondence from subscribers wishing to be taken off a list, and deleting them. Or, you may want to spend a bit of money on specialist software that allows you to monitor which recipients read a newsletter and who simply deletes it. Again, be sure to prune your list accordingly, keeping it active, evergreen and, hopefully, effective.