I read an article the other day that stated that the reason that Google has done so well is that they are always solving for the user. They are continually doing what provides the user with the best experience.
As I was working on our bi-monthly newsletter, I couldn’t help but realize that there are many hotels out there that still are not putting the user first when it comes to email marketing. It drove me crazy because this is one channel where you can do the most.
So, in this article, I am going to assume that you already know the basics of email marketing. This will allow me to show you some beginner-intermediate steps that can make your business “more like Google,” in that you can provide a better user experience.
Since you can use email to do many things, you need to make sure that you know what it is that you want to measure. There are a lot of companies out there that use email to engage with their customers. This means that they use it more for branding purposes. Many companies use it to drive revenue. Some hotels use it to help in their overall customer service. As you can see, there are many use cases, but you need to know what they are going to be for your specific business before you can start implementing these strategies.
Merge Tags: Look in your inbox at any marketing email. They could be from Amazon, Nike, different marketing vendors, etc. I am telling you to look at these because one of them almost certainly uses merge tags. I know Amazon loves to use these for personalization. You can use merge tags for first names, last names, emails, addresses, custom messages, etc. Adding these throughout your emails, such as in the subject line or email body, could make your email stand out over others that may already be crowding a customer’s inbox. That is one reason that I would recommend that you use these if possible to take your hotel marketing newsletter to the next level.
Previous Purchase: This one requires a little bit more setup on your part, but if you can segment your email list by past purchases, then you can substantially increase the relevancy to the consumer when they open your email. Maybe you are jogging their memory about an annual trip that is coming up. This could be the difference between them staying at your hotel, over your competitors.
Events: The moment that I learned about if-then statements, I knew that they should be applied in marketing wherever possible. If you can map out the path to purchase that you would like your customer to take, or the way that is typically assumed, then you can create a series of if-then emails that will automatically send out to your subscribers. An example that I like to use is someone who went into the booking engine but did not complete a purchase. This would be the best time to send an automated email 1, 2, or maybe three days out that asks them if there is anything that they needed help with. The best case is that they come back and book because they forgot. The worst case is that they give you insight into something that prevented them from completing the purchase. It seems like a win-win.
Behavior: In every email list, there are always some people that are engaged with the stuff that you are putting out there. There will also inevitably be people that, for whatever reason, just don’t open or click on your email. There are two things that you can do here. You can reward your most loyal openers/clickers with a coupon. This helps build goodwill and could potentially get you some positive word of mouth. You can also set up an automation series for people that are not engaged with your emails. This could be a good avenue for a small qualitative survey that could help you improve your emails. Maybe they won’t ever open an email. After sending a re-engagement series, you can unsubscribe them if you would like.
Frequency: Once you have got the basics down and you are looking for other areas of improvement, you can start tinkering with some of the other variables. Not all audiences are the same. I can tolerate emails every other day from Amazon because I know that [most of the time] they are hyper-relevant to what I have been looking for recently. I cannot, however, stand when I get emails every day from the same company that are overly promotional and do not help me with anything. All they are is another email I have to delete.
Time: Again, you need to make sure that you know who your audience is. There could be a big difference in sending out an email at 8 AM first thing in the morning vs. something that you send out at 7 PM. Depending on the user, either one of these could potentially outperform the other. Test, test, and then test again until you have a definite winner.
So what is the one trick with email marketing?
It is super simple. Just pay attention. As long as you are making things how the customer wants them and you are not invasive, then you should be okay. A lot of people get worried because of things like the CAN-SPAM act. I can tell you this; If you are anxious about it, then you need to rethink your strategy. I, for one, am all for it. There is nothing worse than email marketing that is not done with the end-user in mind. So I will bring up what started this article again if a company like Google is continuously solving for the user, shouldn’t you?