Written by: Cristina García
Email Marketing is still a fundamental technique that has to be part of your hotel’s online strategy. But, do you know the best practices to send the appropriate email to all those contacts that you got through your hotel’s website? How an effective email marketing strategy looks like?
1. Determine who your audience is.
One of the most important steps in your online strategy is to carefully identify whom you are targeting. Your hotel should offer holiday experiences to a very specific and defined sector. Why? Because today every online strategy should focus on meeting the needs of our potential customers through content of value. And if you do not know your buyer people (potential guests) it is impossible to create content that satisfies them.
It’s exactly the same with email marketing. Content also nourishes this marketing technique, and for this reason you must know well to whom you will send your email. Using tools like Google Analytics you can better understand the interests, needs and desires of the users of your hotel website. And through interviews and surveys to your current customers, you will also get relevant information to create your buyer personas. Think that the more data you get, the more accurate the profiles will be.
Sending specifically targeted content can increase the opening and click-through rates of emails. Emails sent to segmented lists get about a 62% more clicks than un-segmented emailing. Therefore, it is important to divide the contacts you get into groups or segments based on similarities and trends, to create a more attractive and relevant content for them.
Obviously, to know how to segment your audience, in addition to thinking about your buyer personas, you have to think about what state they are in the cycle of buying or traveler’s journey. That is dreaming, planning, booking and experiencing. Otherwise, you won’t send the appropriate emails would in the right moment.
If you use a CMS that allows you to track the behavior of your leads on your hotel website, you could assess your user’s interest degree and what interests them, that is, where on the traveler’s journey are your buyer personas. That would be useful, for example, to identify how they convert (if they download your content), if they open the emails and visit your hotel’s web pages. And if you use a CRM you could have a record of all the activities that your contacts perform, as well as all the actions that you perform for example of segmentation, email marketing and workflows.
Lead Nurturing is the process when you can build relationships with your sales opportunities throughout the traveler’s journey. The goal is to close a deal with them when they are ready, so the golden rule of Lead Nurturing in email marketing is that emails must add value and not ask for value.
Sending an email that adds value means tracking your potential customers and how they consume your content. That is, you have to make sure that your email marketing actions combine with your content marketing actions (for example your blogs) and even social media marketing, to send the appropriate email.
During the dreaming stage, which coincides with the Attraction stage of the Inbound Methodology, provide content that is easy to consume: videos, blog posts, publications in social networks... These contents are great for capturing interest and educating your visits. That way these users go forward in the traveler’s journey, so you can get their contact information to begin with your email marketing actions among others.
During the planning stage, which coincides with the Conversion stage, you have to anticipate the questions that your prospects will ask. The contents that can be sent by email are: interesting posts based on their consuming preferences; checklists; practical zone guides of activities, restaurants or festivals; maps with places of interest... All this without mentioning your hotel. Think that at this stage your potential client, your buyer persona, has not yet decided what his accommodation will be, although he already knows where and when he is going to go on holiday. Talking about your products and services at the moment is very invasive, but on the other hand, you can make clear who you are with your brand. In addition, your content offer has to be able to arouse even more interest in your area. Remember that travelers want to enjoy new experiences.
During the booking stage, that coincides with the Closing stage, you can email your leads with discount coupons, concert tickets, vouchers for restaurants in the area, offer a room or board type upgrade, and other promotions, offers… Plus content related to the most consumed one in your website or previous emails. If they have reached this state consuming your content is because they are really interested. Content in this stage is what usually makes the difference.
During the stage of experiencing, which coincides with the Inbound Delight stage, email marketing is useful to remember and thank your guests the stay at your hotel and to promote more products or services you’re offering (up-selling). Think that a satisfied customer is your best promoter, who can best recommend you. For this reason email marketing is as important at this stage as the other stages. The content you create doesn’t end with the reservation. There is much more that you can offer and that can satisfy the your guests needs. Maybe remember the leisure activities, the excursions and the guided tours that they could enjoy, obviously depending on the type of buyer persona your emailing.
And in order to add more value, in addition to thinking about specific content for each traveler’s journey stage you have to keep in mind that most users will look at their emails through their mobile devices. For this reason you have to optimize your emails thinking about the user experience:
Responsive design. To ensure your emails look good on different mobile devices.
Size. So text images and call-to-action buttons have to be optimized.
Clear and concise messages. The Spanish proverb would say: good if brief is twice as good (brevity is the source of wit for email marketing).
Allow your recipients to share your email content on their social networks.
Analysis is fundamental in any online strategy. In email marketing you can analyze emails based on:
The delivery rate to know if emails reach your contacts. Also look: the bounces by mistake to know if the emails are false or are out of order; and the gentle rebounds to know if emails are reaching the spam trays.
And mainly, the click-through rate to know if your sales opportunities are interested in what you offer them. What’s important is what’s on the other side of the clicks they make on call-to-action, the kind of content they actually consume. If you know that you are able to recognize trends.