Your website is live, your social media strategy is set, and you’re itching to check “digital marketing” off your list and watch reservation and contact forms start spilling into your inbox.
Hold up: who’s in charge of the email marketing?
Email marketing is a vital piece in any travel company’s successful digital marketing strategy. As you’ve probably noticed, the travel industry is a competitive one. It’s one of the world’s largest industries, contributing around $7.6 trillion to the world’s economy.
With such a booming market, it’s crucial to take all the steps you can to stand out from the crowd. And we don’t mean with a super flashy roadside billboard (although we are pretty big fans of #6 on this Hubspot list).
Standing out is where the necessity of email marketing comes in. Right now, there are about 3.8 billion regular email users. And that number is expected to grow to around 4.4 billion users by 2023.
First impressions matter in every facet of life, and it’s no different with email marketing. Once someone signs up for your emails, your welcome email series is your chance to make a powerful and memorable first impression.
And with a regular newsletter, your first impression is bound to be…well, less than impressive. Newsletter are sent by millions of travel companies every day and it takes a special effort to stand out.
That means not only being seen, but finding ways to foster a relationship with your audience. This is where the magic of a systematic approach comes in.
Automating a welcome email series to kick things off before you send your eye-catching newsletters is the perfect recipe to connect more deeply with travelers.
If you do it correctly, the results are certainly worth it. In a case study we did, for example, we found that an effective email marketing automation can increase conversions at a 785% higher rate than average.
A welcome email series is an email drip campaign that is triggered once someone signs up for your email list. This series serves as an important initial touch-point for users, giving them the chance to engage with your brand’s visuals, voice, and more.
The proof is in the pudding: a welcome email series is shown to produce 51% more revenue than a lone welcome email.
It can be tempting to share your entire company with users in the first email by jam-packing the thing with news, offers, background story, and more. But this can be overwhelming for someone who is just getting familiar with your company.
Preparing a welcome email series allows you to share engaging, targeted content that speaks to the top-level interests of each of your buyer personas.
Are they interested in learning more about family-friendly vacation locations? What about best honeymoon cruise options? Your welcome email series can show new subscribers that you’re interested in providing them with the type of educational content they’re interested in, not just pushing them toward products and services.
When crafting a welcome email series, you’ll first want to identify your goal for the series and craft appropriate messaging. Ask yourself questions like:
After you answer these questions, write out a solid goal for each email. Vintage hair accessory company Ban.do used the following goals to frame their welcome email series with great success:
Email 1: Say hello and encourage new subscribers to make a purchase. This is a great time to include an exclusive deal or coupon.
Email 2: Build a relationship by creating conversation. This can mean sharing your social channels or creating other opportunities for subscribers to find out more about you and become part of the community.
Email 3: Re-engage and drive traffic to website. Around one week after you send out a welcome deal, send a reminder that their time is almost up. Try to only send this email to those who haven’t yet made a purchase.
Try to include a nice variety of content such as video, email-friendly images, ebooks and more to help keep things fresh and your audience anticipating what’s next.
Make sure your templates are eye-catching, clean and consistent with your brand. This consistency helps build brand trust and recognition.
Now that you’ve completed your welcome email series, you can dig in to keeping your subscribers updated with unique, engaging, and educational newsletters.
Newsletters are periodic emails sent to your subscribers and serve a few purposes: keeping your subscribers looped in on your company’s latest news, creating call-to-actions for different trip deals or other services, and more.
Like in the welcome email series, you’ll want to first identify the goals and audience for your email campaigns before mapping out your content. Ask yourself the same questions for each email as you did the welcome series, and brainstorm ways your newsletters can help serve your overall business goals.
Newsletters are also a great opportunity to position yourself as an influencer and educator in the travel industry by sharing insider knowledge. Travel and Leisure, for example, sends a monthly email called “T+L Destination of the Week,” where they provide in-depth travel tips for a new location each newsletter.
Don’t be afraid to sneak in some pats on the back, either. Scott’s Cheap Flights includes personal stories of positive customer experiences in their newsletter, which is their way of showing on-the-fencers that their product is the real deal.
Whether you’re strategizing a welcome email series, retargeting drip campaign, or your newsletter, all your email campaigns should follow current and potential customers through their process in the lead funnel. This can mean different content for different stages:
Awareness: In this stage, you’re simply trying to make an introduction with the customer. Having them subscribe to your emails is a great start. In your welcome series, share your brand’s story and offer a coupon to try things out for themselves.
Consideration: The goal in this stage is to get to know your audience better. It’s a good time to send out things like surveys, or present deal options to see what they’re most drawn to.
Decision: This is where you try and close the deal. Share positive reviews, awards, and price-comparison information. Give users clear call-to-actions such as “buy now” or “try now.”
Loyalty: Once a customer has made a purchase, the loyalty stage is when you focus on making them a long-term brand evangelist. Consider sending loyalty rewards, thank-you discounts, and more.
Advocacy: This is your chance to get more subscribers through word of mouth. Thank your customers for their loyalty and add referral rewards, encourage them to share on social media, etc.
The best time to send emails can vary from business to business, so the best bet is to test out different slots for yourself.
According to Travel Pulse, it’s okay to go against the crowd in this department. Many businesses send their emails during work hours early in the week, which can mean yours being lost in the crowd.
Experiment with weekends and night time and see when your open rate is the highest. Keep in mind that around 44% of email subscribers say they wish companies would send less emails, so you might consider going monthly instead of weekly.
The key to successful marketing is establishing a relationship with your audience in which they can trust your brand and know to come to you for their travel needs.
By kicking things off with a warm welcome and keeping them informed and happy from there, your conversion rates are sure to show surprising results.
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