Looking to get started with email marketing for your independent property? We’ve outlined some tips and tricks to get you started with successful email marketing campaigns to strengthen your relationships with your guests and drive revenue.
Subscribers and lists
You’ll need to build up a list or lists of subscribers before you create an email campaign. There are some rules and regulations you’ll need to follow but they’re fairly straightforward and easy to comply with. Most people that subscribe to your email campaigns will do so because they think they’ll get something out of it, like discounts or exclusive offers, and want to be assured you’re not spamming them or going to send them six emails a day and fill up their inbox.
- Get permission: Never buy lists of subscribers or assume you have permission to email them. Your subscribers must opt-in to receive your emails. Now, you can add verbiage to booking confirmations saying by offering an email address, guests are opting in to receive email communications from you.
- Use clever copy: Skip the boring “Sign up to receive emails from us,” and go with something fun and engaging. Perhaps something like, “Join our list of other happy travelers to receive special offers and occasional newsletters to better plan your next getaway!”
- Make it easy to unsubscribe: To comply with anti-spam laws, you must have an unsubscribe option or link in your email marketing campaigns. You can set up preference centers where guests could choose to lessen the amount of emails they get or to only opt-in to get emails on certain topics like your spa or restaurant. But, you must always have an option for guests to opt out of your emails should they want to.
- Find the right ESP: Do your research to find the right Email Service Provider (ESP) for you. Some are designed for people that aren’t that tech-savvy and just need the basics and other systems require a bit of know-how. Popular ESPs include Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and Mail Chimp.
- Determine the right frequency: Are you thinking of sending a monthly newsletter or just one-off special offers? Figure out what you have time for and can feasibly manage to set the right expectations with your guests. You don’t want to overwhelm your subscribers with five emails in one month, nothing in the next, and then another six emails the month after that. Consistency is key.
- Relevant content: Keep in mind why your subscribers signed up in the first place. Did they want special offers or insider information on things to do in your area? Keep the content relevant to what you promised when they signed up and keep it timely.
- Mobile-friendly: People are always on the go and most check their email on their smartphones or mobile devices. Design your email campaigns around mobile by keeping the text concise and to the point, use images to break up text, and use buttons instead of embedded links.
- CTAs: Encourage action in your emails with strong CTAs. Instead of a button that says “Learn More” about your new special, try “Discover Our New Adventure Package.”
- Personalized: Everything is becoming more personalized these days and studies have shown that people react better to marketing campaigns when it directly references them. Use people’s names in your subject lines or in the beginning of your content. Instead of “Dear valued guest,” try, “Hey, Rachel.”
- Subject lines: Your subject line should be both compelling and informative. Don’t try and dupe people into thinking your email’s about something else just to get them to open it. Having an air of mystery can entice people to open your email but they need to understand what they’re getting themselves into. Your best bet when starting off is to be straightforward and give them a reason to open. For example, “Today only: 50% off our luxury suites.”
- A/B tests: A/B tests allow you test different parts of your email campaign to see which one your subscribers prefer. Perhaps you’re testing a subject line, a block of text, or your CTAs. You’ll want to send version A and version B to about 30% of your audience (15% each) and then the system will send the winning version to the rest of your subscribers.
These are the metrics that’ll provide good insight into how your emails are performing and whether you should continue doing what you’re doing or refine your approach.
- Open Rate: Your open rate is simply a percentage of how many people opened the email compared to how many received the email. If your open rate is above 20%, you’re doing pretty good, but if you can get 30% or higher, you’re doing an amazing job with your email campaigns.
- Click-through rate: How many people clicked on links or buttons within your campaign to read more or booked an offer. Aim for a CTR of 20%, though you’ll probably be in the 10 – 15% range when starting out.
- Unsubscribe rate: Uh oh, this is the percentage of how many people unsubscribed from your list because of the last email campaign they received. You should try to keep this under 1% at the very least but try to keep it closer to .2% if you can. You’ll probably also see a number for how many people marked it as spam. While seeing people unsubscribing from your list is disheartening, having people mark it as spam is a very bad sign. ESPs takes spam rates very seriously and if you get too many emails marked as spam, the ESP might take away your ability to send emails or shut down your account.
- Link tracking: Similar to your CTR, most systems will actually show you which links were popular, how many unique clicks they got, how many overall clicks they got, and which person clicked on them.
- Social sharing: This tells you how many people loved your email and shared it with their network on social media sites.
- Revenue: Finally, your revenue metric will tell you how much money you made from that campaign. You can also use your Google Analytics account to see online revenue attributed to the email channel to understand your ROI.