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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