Travel Companies: Here’s How to Use Your Email List to Promote More Than Just Holidays

Avatar on Sep 1, 2016. 9 min Read

Email marketing has been in existence for over 20 years. It is known to be the grandfather of internet marketing and it is still one of the most simple ways to promote your product.

It will amaze you to know that over 294 billion emails are sent out every minute of every day. Also, 72% of U.S adults prefer companies to communicate with them through their email.

Email is, without a doubt, one of the most effective marketing tactics, but despite the amazing business opportunities and benefits derived from email marketing, most travel businesses are still getting it wrong.

How?

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They have one email list, and they use it to sell, continuously.

This is a great limitation because you will never know what your subscribers want and need. This will lead to sending irrelevant messages to them.

And do you know what happens to irrelevant emails?

  1. They are deleted.
  2. They are marked as spam.

The question is:

How do you solve this problem?

To succeed in email marketing for your travel business, you need to build a relationship of trust and goodwill. This can only be achieved by using effective email marketing strategies.

If you’ve got someone to subscribe to your email list, you’ve been given permission to speak to them in the first place they spend their time — their inbox.

With the permission comes responsibility; the aim here is not to shove promotional offers down their throat until they buy or ask you to stop.

The purpose is to engage with your audience and find ways to help them with their needs.

There are lots of strategies that will help you to improve your relationship with your subscribers and thus, grow your travel business. Below are just a few that we at 10x Travel find effective.

Be Consistent With How Often You Contact Them

The majority of travel businesses are confused as to how often they need to contact their subscribers.

The truth is there is no perfect answer.

This is because when you over-mail your subscribers, you can lose them. Again, under-mailing your subscribers can also be a dangerous adventure, especially if you have spent a lot of money to acquire the subscribers.

So, how often should you email your recipients?

A study carried out by the UK Direct Marketing Association the 2015 national client email report revealed the following facts shown in the chart below:

So according to this data:

  • 19% of businesses send one message in a month
  • 35% of businesses send 2 to 3 emails in a month
  • 21% of businesses send 4 to 5 emails in a month
  • 9% of businesses send 6 to 8 emails in a month

But while the majority of businesses send out 2–3 emails per month we do need to look at the other side of the coin — the recipient’s side.

How often do subscribers want to receive emails?

So in January 2015 Marketingsherpa asked 2057 adults the following question:

“How often, if ever, would you like to receive promotional emails?”

And this is was the response:

So what can we learn from this?

Do whatever your audience responds best to.

But you do need to contact them frequently, if you don’t, you will get a higher complaint rate, trigger spam traps and reduce lifetime value and revenue.

Don’t wait for too long before you contact your new leads so that they can get familiar with your content and “from” label as quickly as possible.

Ensure you keep your emails regular.

So you’ve decided how frequently to send those emails, now how do you get them to open them?

Craft an Email Subject Line That Will Get Them to Open It

The truth is: your subscribers are subscribed to other email lists. Therefore, not all emails will be opened. This is the reason why you need to differentiate your subject line from other emails your recipients receives daily.

Richard Lindney conducted an email marketing case study for Digital Marketer. He discovered that best performing email subject lines have four distinctive characteristics:

  • They are benefit driven: The email subject lines state the benefit the subscriber will get by opening the email.
  • They project scarcity or urgency: People don’t like to miss out on offers, especially, the juicy ones. Encourage them to act now.
  • They provide proof or credibility: When you inject credibility or proof into your email subject line, you get amazing results. Proof includes examples of tried and tested techniques that works for you. You can also talk about other people’s achievements in your subject line, something like a case study.
  • They invoke curiosity: The curiosity technique is a great way to amaze your audience. That is the reason why blog posts with “secrets” or “tricks” headline get lots of social shares and comments. A study carried out by Experian Cheetahmail’s content and strategy team revealed that curiosity in subject lines leads to higher open rates.

And who doesn’t like stats like these…?

Whatever strategy you choose to use, ensure that your email content delivers whatever the subject line promises.

Use Plain Text Emails for Authenticity

Plain text emails are emails that look like a letter written on a typewriter. It has no images or fancy fonts.

This type of email makes your recipients feel that you are real. If you use HTML emails that look like promotional fliers, they will disregard them.

What companies often forget is that e-mail messages are not web pages, they are designed for simple messaging.

A study carried out by Hubspot on HTML VS Plain text revealed that subscribers actually love plain text. They surveyed a thousand professionals and ask whether they like HTML-based emails or text emails.

Firstly, 64% of them replied that they preferred HTML emails.

And secondly they found via A/B testing that the HTML email version had a 21% lower clickthrough rate, and combined with the open rate the email had 51% fewer clicks.

Why?

Well, plain text email has a few benefits:

  • It is easy for subscribers to read.
  • It has higher deliverability rates because it is smaller and needs small bandwidth to deliver.
  • It has consistent rendering.
  • It has higher open rates.

Take a look at the following email, sent by us for one of our clients Momentum Ski:

It gets the message across simply, is easy to read and therefore doesn’t waste the reader’s time. They can then decide to act on it without just glancing at a bunch of pretty pictures, not reading, and then deleting.

The question is, should you use HTML or plain text emails?

Salesforce recommends that sales nurturing messages should use plain text emails to ensure a natural voice and increased effectiveness of the emails.

After all is said and done, it still depends on your recipients. You have to test with your subscribers and see what works for you.

Spend Some Time on the Message Preview

Before you hit the “send” button, ensure that you check whether your emails look good or not. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to sell to.

The fact is, most email clients create updates that may affect how email is rendered in inboxes. For example, Outlook and Hotmail dropped support for the margin property and Yahoo! Mail created a bug with the align attribute. These updates will affect how your emails look to your valued customers.

If you don’t preview and test your email before sending, it may look strange in your recipient’s inboxes without you knowing it. This can be embarrassing!

And remember, your subscribers will be reading your emails on different devices, you will need to preview your email using desktop email clients and mobile inboxes.

Finally, make sure the content contains no grammatical mistakes and that every word is spelled correctly.

For example, check out this avoidable spelling mistake:

Look at the subject line. The correct sentence should be “See it. Love it. Now get it”.

One small spelling error can not only kill your credibility, but in turn your customers may lose the trust that you have spent so much time building. Just spending a little time to preview the subject line before hitting the send button can prevent huge errors.

Use A Real Person’s Email Address And From Name

It doesn’t matter how great your email content or subject line is, if the sender’s name looks confusing, it will discourage subscribers from opening it.

Your subscribers should know where the email is coming from. Never, ever use reply-to addresses that look spammy, such as no-reply@companyname.com.

Let’s look again at our clients Momentum Ski:

You may have noticed that not only do we use a real person, we use the founder of the company. Someone who exists and has stature.

Also, because we find that faceless emails are incredibly disengaging, we put a small picture of Amin, to create familiarity between client and customer, enhancing that rapport-building “I know this guy” aspect of the relationship created by plain-text emails.

One last tip: Since email message is a two-way communication, your reply-to email should not be confusing and should never look like it could be spam. Your email should be simple and branded. For example, the above email comes from Amin’s own Momentum Ski email address amin@momentumski.com, which can be replied to, creating a proper business to customer relationship from the off.

Interesting and Useful Content Engages New Subscribers

Email marketing is not mainly for the purpose of selling, it is also for educating your subscribers.

This is why you need to create educational and helpful content that will make your subscribers more likely to do business with you.

Providing helpful and useful information through email marketing will give your subscribers a reason to open and read your emails, keep them loyal to your business and positions you as an expert in the travel industry.

We already know that blog content can deliver ROI, but did you know that content-rich email can too?

Yes, it is possible.

David Huffman, Content Manager for a small health provider wanted more subscribers to enroll in their program. So, he sent information-packed emails to subscribers every week for six weeks. He generated 7 enrollments worth a huge $100,000 in return on investment, click through rates increased by 3.5% and the open rate was boosted by 15–20%.

The question here is:

What kind of content is useful for your subscribers?

I’ve already looked at why your company needs a blog, what travel blog content you should be putting in front of your customers, and blogging mistakes to avoid, but let’s recap the most important take-away:

The main purpose of your blog page article is not to sell travel packages, it is simply to help solve any problems your customers may come across when planning their holiday.

This is where your blog post will be useful. Whenever you post on your blog, email the link to them. You can easily provide a quick description of the article and offer the link. This is what we do with Momentum Ski, and it works a treat:

Click-throughs from an email like this will enable you to boost your website traffic while at the same time giving your subscribers helpful information.

Apart from blog posts, you could also send an educational email course to your subscribers, create a lead magnet, or use any one of these email subscriber strategies to connect with your customers.

Build In Some Personality

Email messages are meant for communication. You need to inject some personality into your email marketing messages. A study by Mailchimp shows that personalisation increases the effectiveness of email messages by 14% in the open rate and 15% for click-through rates.

Yet, most travel businesses do not personalise their emails.

The first place to personalise your email is through the subject line. Use a “from name” that is meaningful. If your customers regularly receive emails from the same person who actually works for the company, then without even realising it, a relationship is starting to be built.

A study carried out shows that adding a personal “from name” in your email subject line increases open rates by 18.30%.

Among the reasons subscribers gave for opening an email, emails with personalised subject line have the highest percentage as shown in the chart below:

The second way to personalise your email is by using the recipient’s first name, full name or last name.

Focus On The Customer, Not The Product

Building an email list helps you to build your travel business. You should focus more on your customer’s need and wants rather than on selling your products. However, that does not mean you should not sell, but you do it when it is necessary.

The fact is:

People don’t purchase your offer, they buy “why” you are selling it. Therefore, your email messages should provide helpful insight into how your product and services can help them to solve their problems.

When it comes to email marketing for the travel business, you really need to look beyond just promoting holidays and focus more on building a genuine relationship with your subscribers.

If you do that, you will see significant results from your email marketing efforts. When you build relationships with your subscribers, they will help you grow your business.

Subscribers are tired of getting too many emails in their inboxes. They are looking for travel companies who will give them a personal touch and an experience because they care about them and not about their money. Though they know you are in business to make money, but it is a result of the help and useful information you provide to solve their problems.

Now It’s Your Turn

What other ways can you create an experience for your email subscribers that will enable them to look forward to receiving your emails all the time?

Oh, and if you’re looking for more tips, we’ve put together a handy email course called How to Grow Your Travel Business With Content Marketing which is full of ideas to help get your company up to speed with your competitors.

If you want to find out how we could help your travel business get more bookings, let’s have a chat.

About The Author

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Co-founded 10x Travel in 2012 to help ambitious tour operator businesses get more bookings online with a consistent, automated sales process they could rely on.

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