As you know, without careful preparation a project seldom achieves the desired results. In any strategy, making a careful plan is a far better option than winging it.
Email marketing is no exception to the rule. To reach your target audience and generate the desired traffic to your establishment(s), it’s important to define and control each of the steps that make up the production line of your email marketing campaign.
What are the tasks? How should they be carried out? Who should be put in charge of each? From start to finish, step by step, this article will focus on the keys to boosting the performance of your email marketing campaigns.
Before discussing the essential ingredients and the best way to use them, I think it’s important to look at why so many email campaigns fail.
To be honest, it usually comes down to the same reason, as I have already explained in several other articles. The most common issues occur over and over again: the quality/quantity of email addresses, language problems and lack of segmentation. When these problems are combined, it’s easy to predict the result: a database that isn’t very readable, with no way to personalize emails.
However, these are essential aspects of a successful email marketing strategy. The process is bound to fail if you don’t consider them from the beginning.
Email remains, in my opinion, the most powerful tool on the market, as long as you don’t make these mistakes. Now that we’ve established the facts, let’s start afresh and take a look at how to achieve concrete results using a persistent email marketing production line.
Step 1: Collect your customers’ email addresses
Before even considering an email marketing campaign, you have to focus your energy on building a strong database. And to be successful, the whole thing has to start with one healthy obsession: getting your clients’ email addresses. It’s VITAL! Your whole team needs to understand that, integrate it, and act accordingly.
Bookings made through Booking.com or Expedia, for example, are missing one essential piece of information: the customer’s email address. But one thing’s for sure: That booking is only the beginning! One way or another – and there is no shortage of tools and methods – you now have to do everything you can to get your hands on that precious nugget of information.
Step 2: Get to know your guests
Once you’ve got your email collection technique in place, it’s time to move on to step 2: Learn more about your customers. All the information you collect will help you deepen your communication with them down the line. Future emails will be more efficient, interactive and personalized.
With a clearer idea of what your customers like, what they don’t like as much and/or what their expectations are, you’re bound to boost your results. Think of everything that can intelligently feed your database: the reason for their last visit, whether they were visiting with family or not, their date of birth and even their nationality. Your database will be much more useful.
Step 3: Use a UCR and learn how to segment
Now you have your customers’ email addresses, and a little information about them. This is an important foundation for building the next part: your unique customer repository.
It’s a tool that will give you an extensive overview, with centralized, consolidated, deduplicated data. This big picture view will allow you to identify a whole series of objective criteria and talking points. Studying them will help you formulate the right email marketing strategy.
Your UCR will allow you to identify the various segments of your database, and see how much each contributes to your revenue. You may find that the majority of your guests come as a couple, or that 20% of them are business travelers, etc. This global view will allow you to create dedicated, personalized campaigns for each of these segments.
I’m bringing this up because it’s a proven technique. It will multiply your ROI (Return on Investment) by an average of 5.2. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring it.
Step 4: Identify large and small segments
Seeing your data clearly displayed lets you observe patterns and the relative importance of different segments. You can distinguish between “large segments” and “small segments,” and adapt your email marketing strategy for each. For larger segments, create occasional campaigns that address one specific subject. For the smaller ones, automate the process as much as possible.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say your hotel was fortunate enough to welcome 120 Dutch guests over three years. The small number marks it as a small segment. It’s not worth all the time involved in creating individual campaigns. You should automate your email marketing for this small segment by creating, for example, a campaign with 2 or 3 emails per year that are sent automatically. This will obviously require a few hours of work upstream, but much less than if you had to think about it every time.
On the other hand, the 1,500 English guests who have come in the past three years may represent a significant segment, depending on the size of your establishment. That means you’ll want to communicate regularly with them, via specific messages.
Step 5: Write your content
Emails require content. While the idea behind an email marketing campaign obviously has to be decided in-house, relying on your own writing skills can be a mistake. Unless you’re very good, it’s best to leave it to professionals. Consider hiring a proofreader, editor or translator for the task. Sending out an email with mistakes or typos in it is counterproductive and can hurt your establishment’s image. There are a multitude of online platforms, such as TextMaster, Malt, Codeur or TextBroker, that can help you find the right partners.
Step 6: Designing your emails
With today’s wide variety of standards and tools, an email will appear on average in 84 different formats. If you decide to design your email in HTML, it may look great on Gmail but be a disaster in Outlook, or vice versa.
That’s why it’s imperative to use an adapted software solution specifically designed for emailing to format your email marketing campaigns, or a graphic designer/web agency that verifies the email code on every major email application before sending it to you. That way the display will always be optimal, no matter which platform your recipients use. If you work with an agency, grant them access to your email platform so that they can create a design that is 100% in line with your expectations.
Once the emails have been written, proofread, translated and formatted, you can finally launch your campaign! But the work doesn’t stop there. Now it’s time to analyze your results and look for ways to improve your performance with each send. Here’s what you absolutely need to look at:
#1 Deliverability rate
The deliverability rate is the number of times your email has actually arrived in prospects’ inboxes. That’s the first number to consider. It tells you if your database is clean or not. Your rate is considered acceptable if it is over 90%, bearing in mind that there is always some loss.
#2 The number of opens
A good open rate does not mean that your strategy is working, it just means that your email’s “subject” was good. If you are contacting a target audience that knows you, your rate should fall between 10% and 30%, compared to between 1% and 5% for a target audience that’s never heard of you. But the percentage is not the most important thing. You should pay even more attention to patterns. For example, you’ll probably find that you get more opens with a short subject line.
#3 The click rate
The click rate shows the quality of the content of your email. To optimize it, always remember to keep it short, with just one message per email. That’s how you’ll get the best engagement rate.
This factor is, in my opinion, particularly important in the hotel business. The main goal of your marketing campaigns is boosting recognition, not just an immediate click / book. So don’t neglect this third point, even though the fourth one is far and away the most valuable.
#4 Your turnover
People don’t spontaneously book a room in the same way they buy a sweater on sale. They may take several days to think it over. To track the effect your campaign has on your turnover, your CRM must be directly linked to your PMS. This way you’ll be able to see that Paul made a reservation with you 17 days after you emailed him.
You now have all the elements, from A to Z, and a path to follow to get the best possible results from your email marketing campaigns. If you want to learn more and improve your email creation skills, I strongly encourage you to read my article on the best advice for improving your hotel email campaigns.
Thanks for reading!
Tony Loeb started his career in Hotel marketing in 2001 as a webmaster, then quickly became the Technical Director of a web agency specialized in the hotel industry.
Passionate about the tourism sector and attracted by the idea of taking on new challenges, Tony took over the management of a team of hotel consultants until 2014, when he decided to make hotel marketing his core business.
In 2014, he co-founded the company Experience Hotel and is now responsible for its international development and deployment, improving tools for automating and optimizing customer relations, from booking to customer loyalty.