Email is the oldest internet-based communication medium there is, yet it shows no sign of dying out. Contrary to most technological developments that burst onto the scene and then are eventually replaced, email is still used by virtually everyone who’s online on a daily basis. According to the Radicati Group, the number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase from almost 3.9 billion in 2013 to more than 4.9 billion at the end of 2017, an annual growth rate of around six per cent.
What’s more, consumer email accounts currently make up the majority, accounting for around three-quarters of all accounts across the globe. Why is this relevant to hotel marketers? Because email marketing is around six times more effective than that carried out via hotel social media, which means that hotel owners cannot afford to miss out on the potential leads it could lure in – and the bookings that could be enjoyed as a result. Brands need to ensure they are staying on top of email and making it work for them. But how can they do this when so many millions of emails are being sent every day? How can they stand out from their competitors? Here are some of the secrets of email marketing success and how you can apply them.
1. Building a relationship by being a real personSince it’s a form of direct marketing, email offers a unique opportunity to build a relationship with people who sign up. The best way to do this is to present an image of a real person contacting them each time they open their mailbox, even if several different people actually come up with the newsletters for your hotel.Think about what happens when you buy and open a magazine: there is usually a letter from the editor on the very first page, which makes readers feel as though they are part of a family or included group. You should aim to emulate this by sending your newsletters, ezines or offers and signing off as a single named person within the company, whether it’s the CEO or someone else.This will allow recipients to put a face to a name (because you’ll also include a little photo), but also to feel as though the information they are receiving is more relevant because they have something in common with the sender.
2. Taking care with subject lines Email subject lines are something of an art form and you need to take care that they’re not misleading and acting purely to get people to click on them – open rates aren’t the be-all and end-all. Instead, hotel marketers need to focus on conversions.This means ensuring the subject line accurately describes what’s within your email as succinctly as possible. You could consider using the name of the recipient in the subject line, but don’t overdo it as this can get annoying.Remember to keep it short too, as research has shown that the ideal subject line is between six and ten words long.
3.Offering quality contentPeople receive scores of emails on any given day, so don’t risk making yours boring or it’ll just be deleted. You need to offer quality content to build up that all-important relationship we talked about, so think more along the lines of what you might find in a magazine and send your recipients useful articles.For example, you might include a short piece on the best bars situated close to your hotel, or the five things hotel visitors forget to pack when going on beach breaks.Consider the personas you’ve built up to cover your recipients and then think about what they’d be interested in reading – then send it to them.
4.Being in it for the long haulIt’s no good sending just one email every blue moon to your hotel’s email subscribers – if you’re building a rapport, you need to be in it for the long haul. People don’t just see one email and then click through to book with that brand; you need to appear on their radar multiple times to achieve this.Schedule in regular contact times when you send an email and get recipients looking forward to it by ‘teasing’ the content of your next newsletter in the existing one. Make sure you stick to it though, as travellers will simply forget you and move on to the next brand if you don’t.However, don’t go the opposite way and start spamming your recipients, or they’ll just press ‘unsubscribe’ and you’ll have lost them. Tread the middle ground to keep people happy.
5. Don’t forget a call to actionWhile you want your content to read naturally rather than being one long marketing message, you still need a call to action at the end in case you’ve reached the point where a recipient is receptive and wants to click through to book.You could do this by including special offers in a plain link at the end of the copy – and adding some that are for a limited time only to encourage clicks.
6.Optimising for desktops and mobilesPlenty of people now check their emails on the move, so you need to make sure your hotel’s messages are getting through to them. If your email contains lots of images or other material that mobiles can’t cope with, the page won’t load and the recipient will be irritated. This will result in the message being instantly deleted, even if the content within is good.Don’t risk this happening. It’s relatively easy to optimise content, and if you can’t do it, you’ll easily be able to bring in a tech person who can. This will ensure the experience is as good on mobile as it is on a PC – and could result in some extra bookings.
7. Staying on top of the results Once you’ve got your emails created and scheduled for sending out, you need to keep on top of monitoring their results. Focus on the click through rate of the main call to action in each email, as it’s these conversions that matter.Ensure your list of contacts is relevant and regularly updated so your messages are getting through to people who are still receptive to them – and cull any addresses that aren’t performing because the recipients never open them.You might want to consider using email marketing software to help you with the performance side of things, as it can easily present the statistics and allow you to make changes quickly and easily. It will also allow you to send different messages to different people at the same time – also known as list segmentation – which is a bonus for hotels with both business and leisure travellers.Hopefully this has let you in on a few of the secrets successful marketers use – and how you could use them in your hotel marketing strategy.