The perils of email marketing for travel companies (and how to avoid them)

by Stratton Craig

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Email marketing is certainly here to stay. Particularly ideal for small travel companies that rely on their website for the bulk of their business, email marketing is fast, cheap and the results can be easily measured. Opportunities to target messages at the right people at the right time are particularly enticing.  But watch out for these major pitfalls:
Not getting permission
Only contact customers who have actively opted in to receive marketing emails. You should provide opportunities for people to opt in with tick boxes on all of your marketing material. And anyone who is registered with the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Preference Service needs to be removed from your contact list. Finally, each email should include an ‘unsubscribe’ option.
Sending irrelevant offers
There are some scary stats associated with this one. According to new research from Boxever, 40% of survey respondents said they are less likely to buy from a company after receiving irrelevant offers from them.
So, let’s say you’re sending out thousands of perfectly worded emails about your amazing offers on 18-30s holidays. If only 20% of your recipients actually fall into that age group you run the risk of alienating a large number of potential customers.
The key elements of email marketing are permission and value. According to SecureList, 59% of emails sent in Q1 of 2015 were unsolicited commercial emails, or spam. Most people are so tuned to ignore spam that it is vital to present your customers with something that is of specific value to them. This could be information about a hidden gem destination or discounted flights in school holiday time, for instance.
Here are three examples of target email marketing best practice:

1.       Segmentation

Segmenting your email communications database is crucial because all your customers are unique. And it’s no surprise that marketing emails based on a segmented approach have a much higher open rate.
Identify the various groups of people you want to target within your customer base, based on factors such as age. Your contacts will also require different information based on their level of interaction with your company so far as this will massively influence how close they are to booking with you.
To achieve the greatest ROI, target the customers who have booked either recently, frequently or who have spent the most. For example, if you were to target those who spend the most, look for customers who booked the most expensive holidays in the previous year.

2.       Make them feel special

Your email content needs to engage the customer, and that starts with the subject line. The ideal length for the optimum open rate is 28-39 characters. Write the email with a personal tone to establish a connection, and try to use their first name to give the impression that the email has been written specifically for them. Giving your customer an exclusive discount – for example a great deal on hotels that must be booked within a week – makes an effective call to action.

3.       Track your results

Open rate, click through rate and conversion rate are all key indicators of the success of a campaign. Prepare well and you’ll establish a good connection with the right people and avoid annoying everyone else. And the results will speak for themselves.

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