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.

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Let’s start with the facts. Right now, according to a report by The Radicati Group, 269 billion emails are being sent daily. This figure is set to grow by 4% over the next four years, with the number of worldwide email users in 2017 now topping 3.7 billion.

So email itself is still flourishing, but what about email marketing?

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Here is LeadDigital’s top 5 for what your hospitality brand can achieve with effective email marketing.

1. Inform & Engage

There are few better ways to connect with people interested in your hotel, restaurant, bar or events venue than by email. Your list of email contacts will include people who’ve stayed in your hotel, attended an event or shown an interest in your hospitality business. These are people who want to hear from you and have given permission to be contacted.

Although our inboxes are inundated, people don’t dislike all email – just the messages they don’t want to receive!

Strategy-led email marketing provides a direct opportunity to engage with people interested in your brand. LeadDigital can work with you to define your strategy and tailor your approach for different types of customers. This could be new subscribers just starting to explore your services or long-term customers.

2. Increase Retention

Your venue has run a large event, sold thousands of tickets and collected email addresses from everyone who attended. How do you then make sure those event goers buy from you again? Email marketing.

An experienced email marketer can craft content that directly reaches out to your customers, and builds a desire to recreate or relive a moment in time. This could be a hotel re-engaging with a couple who’ve celebrated a special occasion with a return visit offer. Or, perhaps a restaurant, inviting someone who’s booked a table four times in the past year, a discount on their fifth visit.

This is known as drip marketing. LeadDigital are MailChimp Experts, and can use the MailChimp platform to automate a wide collection of email messages, which saves you time and money.

Read more about MailChimp automation.

3. Affordable Marketing

Many hospitality businesses get drawn towards social media, print, tv & radio marketing and whilst these do offer their own benefits, none are as cost effective as email marketing. For example, an article on McKinsey.com suggests, email is considered nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook & Twitter combined! – with average order values 17 percent higher!

This is down to two things – reach and engagement.

Say your restaurant or venue has 10,000 email subscribers and a sent email reaches 7,900 of those subscribers (79% according to a report by returnpath.com). As per benchmarks set by email marketing software brand MailChimp, 1714 people (21.7%) of those subscribers who received this email would likely open it, and 23 people (1.33%) would click a link.

On the other hand, Facebook posts reach only 1-6% of fans; so out of 10,000 fans, only 300 (3%) see a posted message, and then only 2 (0.07%) would actually engage with it (like or comment). Email offers both greater opportunities to reach people, and is more likely to engage with relevant customers.

More people, more relevance, more return on investment.

 

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4. Future Proof

Email is proving itself to be one of the pillars of digital communication. While people are moving away from desktop computers and onto mobile devices, email remains a key communication tool. With 44.9 million mobile users in the UK alone in 2017, being able to engage with mobile users is more important than ever!

Using an email marketing online software platform like MailChimp, your hospitality brand can create emails that not only look good, but successfully work across all devices. This can be tested carefully before even a single email is sent, never damaging your relationship with subscribers.

MailChimp Experts like LeadDigital, can develop specific email marketing strategies for mobile, taking into account how people interact differently on mobile devices.

5. Easily Sharable

With just the simple click of the forward button, subscribers to your hospitality brand can quickly share your emails with friends and family. This makes email marketing one of the best ways to gain more exposure for restaurants, hotels, bars, venues; turning your subscribers into brand advocates. Not only is sharing easy, it’s also a great way for your hospitality brand to build credibility. You’re much more likely to book a hotel room recommended by your best friend.

Conclusion

Is email marketing dead? Not at all, but the way businesses approach email marketing does have to change. Hospitality brands need to value and carefully manage how subscribers are obtained; and then develop tailored email marketing strategies.

At LeadDigital, we work with hotels, bars, restaurants and venues to refine their customer sign-up processes and create long-term email marketing plans that are based on their goals, using our expert knowledge of MailChimp.

 

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Why Choose MailChimp for Your Hospitality Business?

When considering email marketing for your hospitality business, it’s vital that you start with the correct structure and systems around you. Without these tools and resources, keeping control of subscribers to your restaurant, hotel or events venue can be a nightmare – and that’s before you’ve even sent your first email marketing campaign! Here’s five reasons why you should choose MailChimp for your email marketing;

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Why MailChimp?

1. A Brief History of MailChimp

Founded in 2001, MailChimp has grown to over $400 Million in revenue, with 15 Million customers and more than 500 employees.

They account their success to a unique customer first approach, an understanding of what competitors lack, greater customization and a loveable brand people connect with. They’re pioneers in email marketing, always developing new features, such as the recently released ability to include Gifs in emails.

2. The Infrastructure

When it comes to infrastructure, MailChimp have constructed brand-new, fit for purpose colocation spaces from the ground up in recent years. This is to handle the 10,000+ new users added each day, as well as 15 million customers sending over a billion emails every single day!

MailChimp is a large application so focusing on simplicity and proven technology has been their main engineering philosophy. (For more on infrastructure, see MailChimp’s engineering blog)

For email marketing users, MailChimp’s Cloud-based platform means no software downloads, no complicated installs and easy access for anyone, across any device with a browser!

3. The Features

Part of what has made MailChimp the number 1 email marketing platform, is the company’s ability to really appreciate the pain points email marketers face; and answer these with highly customizable features that can scale for any business size. The most prominent of these features include:-

Automation

Let’s say you’ve just checked out Mr & Mrs Smith from your hotel’s honeymoon suite. Two days later, the couple receive an email from your hotel thanking them for their stay, and asking for review. Four months later, in lieu of Mrs Smith’s upcoming birthday, Mr Smith receives an email suggesting a special rate at the hotel to celebrate the occasion.

Every interaction was entirely automated and scheduled by MailChimp. Intelligent data collection at each customer interaction point, forward planning and pre-scheduling in the MailChimp platform, can help your hospitality brand reconnect with customers and develop a greater customer experience, with minimal input.

A/B Testing

What’s the best day to send your venues latest events newsletter? Which subject line about your restaurant’s latest menu is most effective? Do more venue bookings come from sending morning or afternoon emails? – MailChimp helps you answer all of these and more, with precise A/B testing tools. You can build up-to three variants to test in each campaign, and MailChimp will take care of all the testing, letting you know what’s worked best!

E-commerce

Shopify and other similar platforms, offer the option to sync with MailChimp’s e-commerce features; allowing you to track orders, set up automated messaging (such as abandoned shopping cart emails), make product recommendations based on previous purchases, and much much more. It’s one of our favourite features of MailChimp, and if used well, can help generate revenue for your hospitality brand.

 

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Segmentation & Groups

MailChimp helps you send the right content to the right subscribers. It’s one thing to collect data on subscribers, but knowing how to use this data wisely and how to gain real performance insights, can be more complicated. Luckily MailChimp offer highly customizable segmentation options, allowing you to target email messages to the best subscribers, in every campaign. LeadDigital are MailChimp experts, so can help you refine complicated subscriber lists into actionable segments that work alongside your hospitality brand’s needs.

MailChimp Designer

Graphic designers are not always available on hand to create custom HTML email designs every week, so for this need, you have MailChimp Designer. This feature provides the ability to quickly create fantastic looking emails, with incredible content and personalisation options. Using the builder, your hospitality company can create emails that reflect your brand – with preview and testing features available to ensure your email works correctly across all devices.

This is more important than ever, given 56% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. Being able to test and ensure your content appears as intended on mobile, tablets and desktop is vital, and could make the difference between an email’s success and failure.

Mobile App

MailChimp works on any device, however they also created a mobile application for IOS & Android. Many of the features available on desktop are also available on mobile; including the ability to view and send email campaigns, keep on track with performance analytics and monitor e-commerce revenue (if associated with an e-commerce provider like Shopify). There are also widgets available for quick performance updates.

4. The Integrations

MailChimp now integrates with hundreds of apps and services, including Salesforce, Eventbrite, Shopify, Facebook, Twitter and many others (the full directory can be seen HERE). Working with MailChimp experts including LeadDigital, your hospitality business can sync all these applications within MailChimp – simplifying your workflow and increasing efficiency. For example;

E-commerce

As discussed above, sync your Shopify data with MailChimp subscribers, track visitors, track orders, automate targeted email campaigns and gain greater insights.

CRM (customer relationship management)

Sync customer data between your CRM and MailChimp. Perfect for improving customer experiences of your brand and engaging with subscribers in new, more effective ways increasing sales opportunities.

Social Media

Sync with your social channels, grow your subscriber lists, share content and market to subscribers on their preferred social networks.

5. The Affordability

Cost for MailChimp is related to subscriber numbers; making it perfect for all hospitality businesses, from start-ups with small lists, to Enterprise’s with thousands of customers.

At time of writing MailChimp prices start from as little as £16 per month for over 1,000+ subscribers – going up to £28 per month for over 2,500 subscribers. There’s also the option of MailChimp Pro to access the more powerful MailChimp features.

Conclusion

When it comes to email marketing overall, there is a lot to be considered beyond just the MailChimp platform. This starts with creating a strategy for ongoing success, and then includes: management of subscriber lists, integrations with other services, campaign planning/design/scheduling/reporting, learning from performance data and adapting future campaigns, etc…

This is where LeadDigital excel. We are certified MailChimp Experts, meaning we have advanced knowledge of the platform, and have been proven to provide successful email marketing campaigns for our clients.

LeadDigital’s team work directly with our hospitality customers to develop long term marketing strategies tailored to your brand’s needs; whether that’s to gain more room bookings, sell tickets or simply improve customer engagement. We can design, schedule, send and report on every aspect of performance, with the experience to backup support provide.

 

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Why Your Hospitality Email Marketing isn’t Working!

Email Marketing is a fickle beast. Fact.

You spend a mountain of time coming up with the perfect strategy, have meetings with management/clients/sales etc, to discuss each aspect of the email in fine detail, and then write the most beautiful piece of script since Shakespeare – only to send it, get barely any opens and feel utterly down-heartened. It sucks.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, chances are your email WAS actually fantastic, but something about the full process wasn’t quite right!

Here’s our top 5 recommendations to enhance your email campaigns:

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1. Are you mobile optimised?

Did you know that on average, OVER HALF of emails are opened today on mobile devices – with this number only set to grow through 2017! It’s therefore more vital than ever, to ensure emails you create work for all subscribers, on both desktop and mobile. This is not just about the core design, but you also need to think about how text appears on different screens, the use of imagery (will it appear on all devices?), and the overall responsive layout.

E.g. if you use a photo in the header with text as-part of the image (rather than overlaid or above/below), but the subscriber’s device doesn’t open images by default, you’ll have lost your title and potentially, confused the message entirely. There’s a great article on the subject by Inc.com, click here to view.

2. Do you know who’s receiving your emails?

With email marketing, the most important aspect will always be your subscribers – or more specifically, the relevance and value of each subscriber to your brand. I’ve seen too many campaigns where companies have sent out entirely irrelevant email content, only to wonder why no-one is opening them. It’s because you’ve sent information about steak nights to vegetarians – just because they signed up to your restaurant’s website!!!

KNOW YOUR SUBSCRIBERS. If there’s just one thing to take away from this article, make sure it’s this point. Whether it’s by refining your subscriber onboarding processes, sending out surveys or simply splitting the subscriber lists you already have. Just don’t send vegans meat stories, they’ll never buy!

3. Are your subscribers even still active?

“I’ve got 3 billion subscribers on my email marketing list, therefore my brand must be awesome!” – say’s the same guy who buys Facebook and Twitter Likes just for ‘branding’. It’s all nonsense, especially when you realise only 10 of those 3 billion subscribers opened your last email campaign!

Don’t get complacent thinking that high subscriber numbers mean high engagement, and NEVER buy subscribers from 3rd parties – all you’ll end up with is a pile of useless email addresses who’ve never heard of you.

DO organically source new subscribers using newsletter sign-up forms on your website.
DO monitor how subscribers interact with your campaigns, and regularly attempt to reconnect with inactive emails; think about a “We Miss You” style process which could be automated.
DO use your social media channels to source new subscribers.
DO use paper media as a way to obtain sign-ups; think about receipts you give out, booking confirmation letters, guestroom information booklets etc…

4. Is 5pm really the best time to be sending out emails on a Friday?

Scheduling is a massive failing point for most email marketers, mostly because there is no one right answer. At LeadDigital I work with a brand who get their best open and click rates at 1pm on Sundays, but another similar company whose emails are entirely ignored at this time, and actually do best on Thursday mornings!

Most campaign scheduling can be done with simple logic, and from understanding how your subscribers have interacted in the past. For example, If you’re pushing a specific ticketed event, make sure you give subscribers enough notice (not just a day in advance) – but don’t send it weeks beforehand, or you risk losing the urgency to buy tickets all together.

You also need to think about the frequency with which you send emails; is once a week just irritating for subscribers? Does 1x email per month mean subscribers forget about you and ignore it?

Then there is matching email messages with the season; so a slow period could be boosted with a well timed special offer email. All of this comes from a deep understanding of your hospitality company and never being afraid to test new ideas, unusual times and different messages.

5. Does your email speak directly to each subscriber?

Last month Steve and his wife stayed at your hotel for two nights. During his stay he signed up to the newsletter proactively, but has since heard nothing from your hotel. Out of the blue he then receives a generic email from your hotel, talking about special rates for corporate bookings. Guess what, Steve ignored the email.

Lets re-write the story. This time, a week after Steve’s visit to your hotel he receives a personalised email thanking him for staying, which asks for feedback on his experience – offering a special rate on his next stay as a thank you. This email was sent automatically by MailChimp (our recommended email platform), but Steve doesn’t know that and is impressed, replying with comments about how much he enjoyed the chef’s fish menu.

Three weeks later it’s Steve’s birthday. He gets a lovely personalised email to wake up too, from your hotel, wishing him a wonderful day and suggesting a great event coming up in a few weeks time. Automated email, you know his birthday from the original booking.

A few weeks later Steve gets another email, this time inviting him and his wife to a unique couples evening, where you’ll be delivering a new fish menu which you know he’ll love! – This email was actually sent to multiple people, but he received it because you’d noted down his love of fish on the subscriber data and used first name tags to speak to him directly.

This is a particularly detailed process, but it’s all possible and reasonably automatable with some careful thought into your data gathering, campaign planning and automation processes. MailChimp is great for this level of customised contact with subscribers, whether it’s through the detailed automation options or the varied ways of filtering and grouping subscriber information. In reality, these five points are only the tip of the iceberg, but if you get these right first, your email marketing’s chances of success will greatly improve.

Know your subscribers, Speak to your audience, Be relevant and Make content that works on all devices – and you’re onto a winner!

 

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