Although much of the focus has shifted to social media marketing in recent years, when it comes to reaching out to your guests with highly targeted messaging, email is pretty hard to beat. Used effectively, it’s a powerful way to drive guest loyalty, improve engagement rates and increase direct bookings made through your resort website. It’s also affordable and very easily automated, making it too big an opportunity to miss for time-pushed hoteliers with a limited marketing budget.
If you want to maximise conversions from your hotel’s email marketing campaigns, here are our top 5 tips.
1. Build Your Contact Database Organically
Building your contact lists organically is the way to go if you want to be sure you are sending out messages to guests that actually want to hear from you. Permission-based email marketing ensures you basically already have one foot in the door, and the people you are communicating with are genuinely interested in your property and are more likely to engage with your brand and book.
Encourage your guests to actively opt-into your contact database by:
- Including a simple sign-up form on your website.This can be as straightforward as a field for guests to type in their email address and a “Submit” button. Don’t forget to include compelling calls to action and incentives such as “Sign up to our email list for exclusive special offers!”
- Adding an opt-in checkbox, in your post-stay questionnaire. If you’re emailing your guests for post-stay feedback, this is the perfect time to drive email list signups. For example, “Tick this box to receive further updates and special offers.”
- Leave a notice in hotel rooms. It doesn’t cost much to print out a small notice card welcoming guests, and inviting them to keep in touch by joining your email list.
2. Think Mobile
Now that almost 50% of all emails sent worldwide are accessed from mobile devices, it’s essential that your messages look good on small screens. Optimising your email content for mobile users is not a difficult process, in fact, if you opt for an email service provider that offers responsive templates, it will all be taken care of for you. Other tips include avoiding large image files and breaking up long paragraphs, which can be time consuming to scroll through on mobile. Don’t forget to include social sharing buttons to encourage guests to share your content on Facebook and Twitter.
It’s true that perhaps more than any other marketing channel, email lends itself very well to automation. But that doesn’t mean your content should read like just another generic email sent to hundreds of others. Avoid the ‘mass mail-out’ feel by personalising your content as much as possible to strengthen relationships with your guests and encourage engagement.
Personalisation starts with understanding who you’re marketing to. By analysing your PMS data you can segment your contact list into specific guest groups to ensure you’re sending the right content to the right people. You don’t want to send great discounts on your family rooms to business travellers, and retired couples over 65 don’t want to hear about your great rates for corporate events. Sending irrelevant and inappropriate information is a guaranteed way to lose subscribers in their masses.
It also goes without saying that you should include the recipient’s first name in the email – this is an easy process to automate and will make guests feel valued as a customer.
4. Deliver Engaging and Valuable Content
What makes great content? In short, it’s anything that provides real value to your guests. That doesn’t mean you have to be sending out special offers and room discounts non-stop. Email updates about upcoming events in your city, restaurant recommendations, hidden gem attractions and other local ‘insider’ travel tips will be of genuine interest to your audience and may help put your hotel at the forefront of their minds in time for their next break.
Just renovated your lounge bar or built an impressive new pool area? Both loyal repeat guests and prospective customers will enjoy being amongst the first to hear about it. Retired ‘staycation’ guests from the local area will appreciate hearing about the wine-tasting event you’re holding at your restaurant soon. Take time to think about the contact list segments you’re targeting and the kind of information that’s likely to engage them the most.
Images are an important part of great content, too. No matter how great your text is, an eye-catching photo can be relied on to catch your audience’s eye and lure them in. Whether you opt for an inviting high resolution image of your pool glittering in the sunshine, a group photo of your smiling reception team or even the latest delicious seasonal offerings from your restaurant menu, images boost engagement and encourage social sharing.
5. Test, Track and Repeat
The only way to see if your messaging is really resonating with your audience is to get serious about tracking. Use your automated email marketing system to keep a close eye on all opens, website click-throughs, email enquiries and room bookings driven by your emails. Discover what works best for your particular audience by experimenting with different subject lines, images, message lengths, CTAs and times of delivery. When you find the winning formula, stick to it.
When it comes to effective email marketing, there’s one important question to ask yourself: what value does this email content provide to my guests? If the answer is obvious, your campaign is sure to get results.
Do you have any email marketing tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!