To succeed in the travel industry, you need to keep your customers happy and engaged throughout their experience: from that first email touchpoint, through booking their first trip, even as they’re posting glowing reviews about your company. There are many factors that contribute to a successful travel campaign, and technology continues to raise consumer expectations. Today, a successful email campaign requires personalized, contextual messaging and offers.
Email marketing has entered a new era of innovation, allowing the travel and hospitality industry to reach consumers with highly personalized and dynamic experiences like never before. In terms of email ROI, the travel industry leads the pack. According to a 2015 study from Silverpop, the travel and hospitality industry has a 56.7 percent email open rate — the highest among the 17 industries included in the study — and comes in second for click-through rates at 15.2 percent. This is great news for the travel marketer, but it’s only the beginning when you’re trying to grow a loyal fan base. Here are six email marketing tips for travel and hospitality marketers that have proven to engage customers, drive ROI, and build a loyal fan base.
1. Think Mobile, But Don’t Forget About Desktop
There’s no question that this is the mobile age. Mobile optimization should continue to be a priority for marketers. However, although we see more and more consumers in general engaging with email on mobile devices, desktop still remains an important factor to consider for travel and hospitality brands. Many travel industry email opens and conversions still happen on a desktop — 39 percent and 69 percent respectively in 2015, based on our analysis.
2. Use Data To Take Personalization To The Next Level
You can engage your audience effectively by using consumer data to precisely target audiences and personalize messaging. While targeting audience segments with relevant messaging has always been a priority for most marketers, using data to personalize email messaging and offers takes engagement to the next level. Consider incorporating personalized messaging about your customers’ previous trips, loyalty points, and more. While basic forms of personalization such as incorporating the recipient’s name into the email image and body copy are a good start, also think about more advanced tactics like geotargeting to offer the nearest business location. The payoff? According to Experian, personalized emails have 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates than non-personalized emails. Truly personalized emails require accurate, up-to-date data on your subscribers. Collecting that data can be a challenge. User preference centers often have low participation rates, and the more fields a form has, the less likely customers will complete it. As a matter of fact, according to QuickSprout, increasing the number of options in your form fields from three to six can decrease conversion rates by 66 percent. Progressive profiling is a form of gamification using polls to continuously collect deeper insights about a consumer, while creating an engaging, interactive email experience that encourages subscribers to participate. And it works. According to M2 Research, gamification can lead to a 100 to 150 percent increase in engagement. Giving customers an opportunity to vote for their favorite destinations, or other travel preferences, right in the email, allows you to use that data to send relevant offers that they’re more likely to act on. Phrase your poll questions in a way that will elicit a more emotional response. For example, ask what family destination their children or grandchildren would most enjoy visiting.
3. Make Deals Relevant With Weather Targeting
Weather targeting can increase CTRs by 39 percent. The more relevant the offer is to your customers at the moment of open, the more likely they are to click-through and convert. You can use weather targeting to include real-time weather at the recipient’s location — wherever they open your email — and give them a peek at the weather conditions at one of your tropical destinations. For instance, aim to entice consumers in cold weather locations with a trip to a tropical paradise by helping them envision the experience, or target skiers by showing them that fresh powder awaits at their favorite resort. As an added touch, you can use animated GIFs — like falling snow or a sparkling ocean — to bring eye-catching visual elements to destination images.
4. Build A Sense Of Excitement To Drive Action
Offer countdown timers to inspire a sense of urgency and excitement to drive bookings. One way to do this is to incorporate a deal timer/countdown clock into emails so recipients can keep track of how much time they have left to act on a limited-time offer. While creating a sense of urgency for a specific deal is a good way to spur action, avoid customer frustration by always offering an active campaign at the time the consumer opens the email. When a deal expires, swap it out with your next deal, or a link to book a comparable trip, giving consumers another option to convert.
5. Create Seamless Experiences With Real-Time Inventory
You can make booking easier for customers by using web cropping to offer real time, interactive reservation services right in an email. Web cropping imports real-time website content into your emails ensuring customers always see your freshest content — every time they open the email. Use real-time inventory to incentivize an upgrade. For example, provide additional airline seat or hotel room options based on the reservation they already made by providing live inventory that refreshes each time the customer goes back into the confirmation email. Web cropping also creates efficiencies and boosts ROI by saving time on email production. This is because it pulls in content that’s already been created and approve and that updates automatically in the email every time you update your website.
6. Harness The Power Of Social To Drive Sales
Social media drives sales. In fact, 62 percent of consumers say social media interactions drives them to buy more in most or some cases, according to PwC. Incorporating social into your email campaigns can help you leverage the power of social in two ways:
- Creating an engaged social community: Create an opportunity for consumers to come together to experience your brand. Pull in a live social feed from your Instagram account so recipients can see, and share, the latest, exciting travel accommodations you offer. Social images of vacation destinations are visually engaging and authentic.
- Letting your fans share their positive experiences: The travel industry is often driven by reputation. Customer feedback and reviews can make or break your business so let your fans amplify your message. Incorporate live social feeds into your emails and let your happy customers do the talking for you. Offer an incentive — like a chance to win a free trip or accumulate travel points — for them to share their love for your business on Instagram or Twitter.