Hey, email marketers — Take a load off and embrace automation

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As email marketers continue to find themselves busier than ever with increasing responsibilities and competing priorities, efficiency is becoming a lifeline for many of them.

More and more, automation is proving to be the email marketer’s knight in shining armor. It’s an efficient and systematic way of sending promotional and transactional emails without having to actually press a “send” button. That’s almost like setting up automatic payments for credit cards and your mountain of bills.

Sending automated emails ensures you’re not missing fleeting opportunities, provides more relevant and personalized content to your users and — most importantly — saves you heaps of time.

Email automation, thy name is efficiency
Email automation goes by many names: nurture, drip, triggered messages and so on. Whatever term you use to define marketing automation, one thing is clear: It’s about doing more with less and driving outcomes and long-term strategies to improve customer lifetime value (LTV).

In the case of email, we think of this as a series of emails that are launched based on a discrete or unique set of circumstances that could be initiated by a customer or a marketer to a specific segment that exhibits a set of similar characteristics, making them ideal for this type of automated campaign.

Currently, most email automation is achieved through artificial intelligence (AI) tools, yet surprisingly, a survey by GetResponse found that only 5 percent of email marketers considered themselves experts at it. From GetResponse: – Read More

In The Age Of Social Media, Should You Bother With E-Newsletters?

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Many marketers view e-newsletters as a kind of interesting relic or an outmoded stepping stone between newspapers and social media. They may pull their writers away from the weekly or monthly newsletter and focus them instead on social media. After all, you can post that same information online and reach your audience instantly, right? However, when used correctly, e-newsletters can still be a valuable marketing tool, especially in the age of social media.

In an almost mythic way, the greatest strength of social media marketing is also its greatest weakness. Social media is instant communication, but it is also fleeting. Your carefully written post about the latest development in your industry may reach thousands of people in a second. But by the next second, it is drowned out by a dozen other posts. – Read

Why Is Email The Most Effective Digital Marketing Technique?

email-1Did you know email marketing is 40x more effective than Facebook marketing, and you get 6x more engagement that with Twitter?

Working out where to focus your digital marketing can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack and yet since starting using email for marketing 10 years ago, I’ve sent over 1 million emails, using MailChimp, Active Campaign and now InfusionSoft, with great results. – Read

 

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools 2017

Marketing automation platforms are designed to manage and automate repetitive tasks for marketing professionals and organisations. As a hospitality business owner or marketing employee, we know that correctly structured marketing plans require forethought and a long term strategy. Much of this can be planned, scheduled and actioned using a marketing automation software tool.

Common capabilities include management of social media and scheduled posts, email marketing, digital adverts, lead generation tools and insightful analytical reporting systems.

Below are five of LeadDigital’s preferred marketing automation software platforms in 2017:

Pardot by Salesforce | Pardot.com

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Pardot is the popular B2B marketing platform brought to us from the huge CRM provider Salesforce. Pardot focuses on the lead generation side of marketing automation, and is structured towards creating more meaningful conversations with existing and new clients. Going beyond features, if you’re a Salesforce CRM user, this platform is ideal given its air-tight integration with the CRM.

Pro: All the features you could need. Tight integration with Salesforce.

Con: Doesn’t play well with others, few additional integrations. At the higher price end for a marketing automation platform (standard £800/mo).

ActiveCampaign | Activecampaign.com

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ActiveCampaign are a much more affordable marketing automation provider, perfect for small hotels or events venues. They may be less known than some other platforms, but it’s very hard to critique AC. They have a huge feature collection including the ability to create automated workflows and the various integration possibilities.

Pro: Cost effective, from around £15/mo for their basic package. Lots of features and a strong focus on email marketing.

Con: Some areas of the tool feel outdated, such as the email builder, when compared to alternatives available.

Act-On | Act-on.com

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Act-on believe their niche comes in the form of “outstanding experiences for customers“. Much of their marketing automation capabilities are around lead nurturing, and their support for clients is very highly rated. We would like to see some improvements to their reporting features, but otherwise this is a strong, easy to use contender.

Pro: Flexible platform, built for marketing teams not developers/engineers.

Con: Reporting is somewhat limited, some tools can be quite basic.

Marketo | uk.Marketo.com

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If you’re somewhere between the small hotel and enterprise-sized corporate events company, then Marketo could be the right tool for you. It’s not for the faint hearted, but is very intuitive and offers solutions that go much deeper than many of its competitors. We particularly like how current they are, regularly developing new services to match the digital landscape.

Pro: An industry leader, huge range of solutions, always updating services.

Con: In the higher price bracket, considered to have limited reporting & analytics abilities.

HubSpot | Hubspot.com/Marketing

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HubSpot is very features rich. It’s a platform that can do basically everything, and in our opinion, does it all to an incredibly high standard. Although they do offer HubSpot Marketing as a separate platform, when combined with their CRM and Sales tools this software becomes an all-in-one tool for complete business management.

Pro: Easy to use, designed for small businesses, lots of support and educational learning facilities available. Always trying to help clients get the most from the platform.

Con: Expensive compared to alternatives. Some features only available at additional costs, and often there are lower cost software options that provide the same functionality.

Conclusion

Whilst we only name five platforms here, there are various other tools available online today which can serve the same or similar marketing automation tasks. The important thing to consider is what your hospitality business actually needs, what you will actually use, and choosing a platform that fits.

At LeadDigital we have experience working with a wide range of marketing automation software tools for various clients, so understand the best ways to get more from the software.

 

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Top 5 Email Marketing Services in 2017

We are often asked about the various email software platforms available today and with so many options out there, how should you decide which is best for your hotel or venue? In this blog I’m going to give an overview of LeadDigital’s Top 5 recommended services for Email Marketing.

It’s easy to be tempted by all singing, all dancing services like Infusionsoft (discussed below), but these are often overcomplicated, and require a significant investment. We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t try to run before you can walk”. In this case it’s better to start simple and select software based on your needs today. It’s easy to upgrade as your requirements become more sophisticated, but it’s very difficult to go backwards!

So without further ado, lets get started:

AWeber

“All The Tools You Need To Send Emails The Right Way.”

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Established back in ’98, AWeber is one of the original email marketing platforms and is considered a great starter option for people new to email. It’s very simple, offering most of the core features a small to medium hospitality business would need, without overloading you with too many tools.

Pros: All the basics are covered, simple reporting and functionality and it offers a useful WordPress plugin for quick website sign-up forms.

Cons: The subscriber importing capabilities are quite limited, no ability to build landing pages, overall it can be quite limiting for more established businesses.

Cost: Today you can get a 30-day free trial followed by $19 (£15) per month for up-to 500 subscribers. Standard pricing then peaks $149 (£120) per month for 10,000-25,000.


MailChimp

“Send Better Email. Sell More Stuff”

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If you want to design awesome looking emails without needing a web designer on-hand, MailChimp is the tool for you!

A fan favourite for many, MailChimp is a popular option for most email marketers given its powerful functionality and user friendly interface. Whether you’re adding new subscribers, creating new email campaigns or looking for advanced automated email options, MailChimp is a solid all rounder.

Pros: Integrates with hundreds of web services including e-commerce platforms, huge collection of templates to design from, quick to get started.

Cons: MailChimp use a unique language for features & processes, they only allow for one opt-in form per list, reporting whilst informative can be less comprehensive than competitors unless managed by a MailChimp expert.

Cost: Up-to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month you can sign up for free, however this only gives access to the most basic features. To access all functions including autoresponders, pricing starts from £8 per month for <500 subscribers, then £65/mo+ for over 10,000 subscribers.


Drip

“Quick And Easy Email Marketing Automation Software”

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Marketing automation is the ultimate dream of most email marketers. The ability to take insights you have on customers and turn them into personalised & automated outreach campaigns, makes for the perfect recipe to succeed in email marketing.

Drip take that one step further by building their entire platform around the premise of drip marketing. Intelligent workflows allow users to automate the entire customer journey, with sophisticated rules based on interactions helping you get the most engagement from each subscriber.

Pros: Specialists in drip marketing, advanced visual workflows & event triggers, automate everything, access to marketing automation normally reserved for only high end expensive email software.

Cons: Still quite a new software platform so constantly seeing changes, integrations are less available and can be complicated.

Cost: Free for 100 subscribers, or get 2 months free when buying an annual package. £39.50/mo for up-to 2,500 subscribers, £120/mo+ for 10,000 subscribers.


ConvertKit

“Email Marketing For Professional Bloggers”

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Like MailChimp, ConvertKit offer many of the essentials needed for hotels, venues, restaurants and other hospitality businesses. Its advantage over competitors however, is that it uses ‘tags’ rather than ‘lists’. List based systems store subscribers (email addresses) on a per list basis, such as ticket buyers or competition A entries. If one subscriber is in both lists (tickets & competition), you could get charged twice!

Alternatively a ‘tag’ based system like ConvertKit looks at all subscribers together as one. Using customisable event tags, segments are then created and personalised emails can be sent to a select audience only, without the risk of double charging!

Pros: Tag based software, easy to use, simple to create sign up forms, offers a basic landing page builder.

Cons: Reported information and email testing functions can be quite limited and the email composer is somewhat basic.

Cost: 0-1,000 subscribers is £23 per month, £64/mo for up-to 5,000 then custom price for above 5k subscribers.


Infusionsoft

“Build Better Connections With Leads And Customers”

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If your subscriber numbers are above 50,000, you’ve got everything you can out of platforms like MailChimp and need to step it up a notch, it’s probably time to look at Infusionsoft.

This is a marketing automation, CRM and sales platform all rolled into one, and is big, powerful and perfect for complete email marketing dominance! It has every feature you could imagine and more, but does also demand a significant investment in time and money so can’t be taken lightly. Its abilities extend way beyond just email marketing, so you’d likely see this service become part of every aspect of your hospitality company.

Pros: Ultimate tool for much more than just email.

Cons: Too expensive for most business owners, very complex.

Costs: £160/mo for 2,500 subscribers plus you have to buy a kickstart package from £804 up. Thats not including the cost of training and additional staffing this system would require.

In Summary

There is a huge range of email marketing services to choose from in 2017, and this list only scratches the surface, with other services like ‘ActiveCampaign’, ‘GetResponse’, ‘Constant Contact’, ‘Ontraport’ etc… equally deserving of mention.

So how do you choose? Stop. Down tools and just ask yourself one question – what do I actually want to achieve with email marketing? Be specific.

The right software is vital, but even more so is the right email marketing strategy. This is the point when you should talk to LeadDigital. We have over 20 years experience in email marketing and only serve businesses within the hospitality sector – with our team creating bespoke email strategies designed to increase bookings and sell more events!

 

Want to Speak with an Email Marketing Expert?

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3 Email Tactics For Customer Retention

In hospitality, success depends heavily on repeat custom. Many marketers forget this and put their focus into gaining new ticket sales or bookings; however when 25-40% [1] of most business revenue comes from repeat custom, this channel cannot be ignored. Studies by Bain & Company state a 5% [2] increase in retention can lead to profit increases of 25-95%!

A sell-out event full of new customers is an amazing quick win, but what is your venue doing to ensure they visit again?

It’s likely that your hotel, restaurant, bar or events venue will have a basic database of information on past customers. This means you have the capability to reach people on a personal level; which can be used to increase loyalty and repeat custom through strategic email marketing.

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At LeadDigital, it’s our opinion that email marketing is far from dead. In fact with the number of worldwide email users now topping 3.7 billion [3], plus the growth of email on mobile, it’s actually flourishing. How can email increase repeat business? Read our top 3 tips here below.

 

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1. The Personalised Approach

How well do you know your customers? Say for example, a person attends an event at your venue. Sure you have their name and contact details from the event booking, but what else?

For one you can probably assume their sex, potentially their age, and it’s likely you’ll have some insight into their interests based on the type of event they attended.

When it comes to email marketing, savvy marketers take this information and use it to personalise every interaction. You may even have experienced this yourself if you’ve attended an event and later received a ‘thank you for visiting’ style of email, addressed to you directly.

Sending a masculine-styled email to ‘Tim’ referencing the rock gig he attended 6 months ago & inviting him personally to a similar event, is much more likely to result in repeat business than a generic promotional message.

Personalised email communication enables more than just contact with existing clients. It also grants the ability to strategically target what you send, when it’s sent, and to who; maximising the return on each email. More importantly, regular personalised emails help maintain relationships with a group of people you know have bought services from you already!

2. Let Software Do The Hard Work

Automate Everything! Okay maybe not everything, but modern email marketing software does give businesses the ability to automate emails sent to existing customers. By utilising these features correctly, Hotels, Restaurants, Bars and other event venues can develop drip marketing strategies that increase repeat business.

What do I mean by drip marketing? Imagine a scenario where ‘Lana’ books a birthday party at your bar.

  1. First, you send Lana a personalised email confirming her booking.
  2. Next you remind Lana of her booking a week in advance and wish her a happy birthday.
  3. Two days after the event Lana receives another email, thanking her for choosing your bar and asking for feedback on her party. You learn she had a great time and particularly enjoyed the cocktails available.
  4. A few months later Lana receives an email, inviting her to an exclusive cocktails masterclass at your bar.

In this example, as she knows your brand, remembers her great party and loves cocktails, Lana books the masterclass event – job done, another repeat booking!

All of the above emails can be automatically sent, having been designed and scheduled well in advance – making email marketing scalable as your business grows. Working with an email marketing expert the right strategy can also save hospitality business time & money, that otherwise could be wasted on less effective marketing initiatives.

3. Make Existing Customers Feel Special

Leading on from the personalised approach above, email gives you the ability to make customers feel special, like they’re getting exclusive ‘backstage’ access to your Events Venue, Restaurant, Bar or Hotel.

People are becoming increasingly selective on who they give their email addresses to. When a customer gives you permission to contact them, they’re also telling you they have an active interest in your business. By picking up on core booking information and interactions, you can develop relationships that result in repeat business.

Wedding venues for example, know it’s unlikely they’ll get a repeat wedding booking from a recent bride. However that bride will have spent months comparing your venue with alternatives before booking, so clearly LOVES your location.

Email marketing gives you the perfect opportunity to make her feel special and remembered. People who feel valued, are both likely to book on another occasion and recommend your business! For example, how about emailing the bride just before her wedding anniversary, inviting her to an exclusive dining experience to relive their special day?

Exclusivity is a big deal in hospitality email marketing. At LeadDigital one of our clients is the luxury London private yacht company, Woods’ Silver Fleet. Their brand is associated with hosting luxurious functions & celebrations on the Thames, and LeadDigital are responsible for their email marketing strategy. Our greatest email successes for Silver Fleet have come from targeted, personalised invites which make previous clients feel remembered and important.

Conclusion

Email marketing for repeat custom can generate impressive revenue returns for your hospitality brand. Making your past customers feel special and taking a personal approach to communication builds trust & loyalty, resulting in more ticket sales, bookings and event enquiries!

LeadDigital are officially recognised email marketing experts, with over 20 years email marketing experience, specialising in strategies that increase revenue and grow customer loyalty. Need to improve your email marketing profit, then speak to us – we can audit current processes, develop a bespoke strategy and help you get the most from email!

 

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References

[1] The Importance Of Repeat Customers. SumAll. 5 April 2013
[2] Customer Retention Is King. Forbes. 21 January 2015
[3] Email Statistics Report 2017-2021. The Radicati Group. February

Why You Need An Email Marketing Strategy

Strategy is the foundation upon which a business is built. Without a clear strategic framework in place, it is impossible to effectively manage or develop a hospitality company. How can you reach your business goals and ambitions without an actionable plan for fulfilment?

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“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Jack Welch, retired CEO of General Electric.

When looking at email marketing for your hospitality business, the same rules apply.

Whether you’re a hotelier, own an events venue or are a restaurateur – successful email marketing starts with a carefully crafted email marketing strategy.

Why Is A Structured Email Marketing Plan So Important?

Email is one of the most effective channels for hospitality businesses that are looking to make profit through marketing and engage with their customers. Email marketing can reach a large audience of people already interested in your brand, whilst allowing you to target and personalise your messages on an individual level – vastly improving the customer experience.

However, in a world where [1] 269 billion global emails are being sent daily, it’s easy for your emails to get ignored if not setup correctly and sent as part of a thought out, actionable strategy.

So Why Is This So Relevant To Hospitality Businesses?

Email marketing is a direct revenue opportunity for hospitality businesses, interacting with past, present and future customers. Whether used for branding, personalised communication or for promotional purposes, few other marketing options allow for such a targeted approach. Keep in mind, in most cases all email subscribers will be customers, or at least interested and aware of your brand.

For an example of hospitality email strategy, see online hotel booking site Expedia; or more specifically, how they used a carefully crafted and personalised strategy in their automated email marketing [2].

Expedia’s goal was to increase bookings from logged in website users who started the booking process, selected dates, but didn’t complete the process.

  • In step one of their fulfilment plan, an automated email pulls in the name of the specific city that person was booking, with email content focused on booking a package deal.
  • Step two, the city name from step one stays in the subject line, but now it’s also used in the emails title, body copy and in the

This strategy successfully aligns what the customer was thinking about completing, with a relevant email and subject line that would get their attention and likely lead to a booking. Focus, Goal, Tactic, Action.

Or as another example, imagine how impressed you would be as a customer if:

  • You booked a restaurant table, and immediately received a personalised booking confirmation email.
  • You then get a reminder two days before, including details on the restaurant’s location and best places to park.
  • One week after the meal you receive an email thanking you for visiting – then one month later you get offered a return diner promotion.

The customer journey has never been more important in the hospitality industry, and engaging with customers at every point of interaction ensures you’re always on their mind.

What Makes A Great Strategy?

A great email marketing strategy for hotels, venues & restaurants can be summarised with four core steps;

  • Set Goals
  • Decide Tactics.
  • Action.
  • Learn, Optimise & Repeat.

Each step is equally important, however step four brings the process full circle and gives you the vital information on subscribers, required to tailor future goals. Being able to learn from results (data) and adjust tactics accordingly, is the difference between a basic marketer and expert-level email marketing strategist.

How Can My Hospitality Business See What Works?

Email marketing service providers offer hospitality brands the tools to create, personalise and analyse their email campaigns. At LeadDigital we recommend using the online software platform MailChimp, due to its wide range of features, extensive history and affordability.

For more on why to choose MailChimp, Click Here.

LeadDigital are also officially recognised MailChimp Experts, and have the knowledge and experience from over 20 years of email marketing to craft bespoke email strategies for your hospitality business. We start by auditing all aspects of your email processes, and lead on to setting goals and suitable tactics, removing any guesswork and maximising your return on email investment!

 

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References

[1] Is Email Marketing Dead? LeadDigital. 20 Mar 2017.
[2] 7 Lessons from top Performing Drip Email Campaigns. Shopify.