When planned and implemented properly, email marketing can be a targeted, measurable and strategic marketing tool for tourism and hospitality businesses. A lack of planning and understanding, however, can lead to a waste of resources and even legal complications.
In this post we’ll outline 7 key tips for starting or improving email marketing campaigns for your hotel, guesthouse or lodge.
1. Decide whether it is for you
I follow the same philosophy with email marketing as I do with most social marketing channels – focus on the tools that show the best results. Spending time and money on a costly channel with no return is senseless. Think about your business, your target market and your resources, then make a call on whether sending out newsletters and promotions will realistically grow your business or foster guest loyalty.
- Do I have enough to say?
- How often would my guests want to hear from me?
- Who will write, design and send the emails?
- Am I willing to spend money on email marketing?
2. Use a proper tool
If you’re going to market via emails, you need to do it right. Be sure to use a dedicated service specializing in email design, marketing and mailing list management. I personally have always preferred using Mailchimp, there are however loads to explore and choose from (also see Campaignmonitor, and Constant Contact)
3. Be smart about lists
A powerful part of email marketing is having the ability to segment your subscribers into ‘lists’. This gives you the ability to communicate certain marketing messages to a select group of subscribers, providing a very targeted approach.
Example: You could have a list for people only interested to receive special offers or packages, while another list of subscribers might be interested to receive news about events and attractions in your area. Remember that people can unsubscribe from you mailing list at any time, and believe me they won’t think twice. Therefore it is important to communicate information they are genuinely interested in.
4. Looks matter
It is important to make your emails as consumable and intuitive as possible. If you are using a third-party service like Mailchimp to manage your email marketing, chances are you’ll be designing your own emails. Keep the following in mind:
- Keep it simple. Don’t crowd your designs with decorative images or animations
- Keep it short. Try not to include lengthy articles in your newsletters but rather link to a blog or news feed on your website. This way readers will be able to scan through your newsletter and click through to your website to read the full article, if you want to.
- Use a solid template. Your email will be opened on many different email clients, web browsers and mobile devices – be sure to use a tested design template provided and approved by your third-party service.
5. Play by the rules
Let’s cut to the chase. Everyone hates spam. If you send your email newsletter or offer to someone who has not provided you with permission to do so, you are in fact, spamming them. See, on a daily bases people need to filter and scan through an ocean of digital news and information, a concept we describe as ‘infobesity’. Your job as a marker is to provide your market with enough motive to want to include your email in this ‘ocean’ of information. Sounds impossible? It isn’t. It does stress the importance or having quality content though.
6. Don’t underestimate the sign-up form.
Adding a newsletter sign-up form to your website, blog and Facebook page is a practical way to get people to subscribe to your mailing list. The biggest mistake you can make is not telling people why they should subscribe. What type of information will they receive? What benefit does it hold? How often will they receive it? Here’s a practical exmaple:
Bad newsletter sign-up form: ‘Sign up to our newsletter!’
Good sign-up form: ‘Don’t miss out on special offers. Join our mailing list to receive monthly updates on promotional offers and packages’
7. Measure and improve
Another powerful feature of using a third-party email marketing service is the ability to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. With these statistics you can not only see how many of your subscribers have opened your email, but also where they are located, how many of them have clicked through to your website and how many of them have unsubscribed from the mailing lists. Use this information to grow your email marketing strategy, learning from your mistakes and keeping tabs of which subject lines and content produced the best results.