Don’t Ignore It! How to Get Started with Email Marketing in the Travel & Tourism Industry

By Tawny Bertolozzi and Dalene Heck

With such a strong emphasis on social media marketing in the last decade, a pioneer of digital marketing has fallen by the wayside: email marketing. In favour of quick results in the form of likes and comments on social platforms like Instagram, this OG form of reaching the masses online has often been left to settle in the dust of past marketing plans.

There is often a notion that email marketing is “old tech” and not useful in the current digital marketing sphere. But those who think so may be missing out on the greatest opportunity to reach potential visitors or customers. If Instagram can be considered a party full of beautiful people seen only through a window, then email marketing is the equivalent of actually being invited inside to join. People covet clean inboxes; the fact that they have invited you to submit something to it means that they truly want to hear what you have to say (and are willing to let you in the door).

More Reasons to Have a Solid Newsletter Strategy

Although email marketing may seem outdated given the proliferation of social media, it’s still one of the best methods of communication. According to Statista, the number of global email users is set to reach 4.6 billion users by 2025. That means that half the world’s population will have email accounts…so clearly that is where you need to be too.

Especially in the tourism industry, email marketing can be used as a significant communication channel with customers (some in the travel industry already do it really well!). Key things to remember why a good email marketing strategy is important are:

  • Builds rapport with your potential clients and visitors – Email marketing is highly effective, as emails are a part of everyone’s lives. They are often deemed much more personal than traditional online advertising, allowing you to connect with your audience, tell stories, and give special offers. They can even help you learn more about what your audience is interested in and wants to learn from your business.
  • Email communication is one of the easiest and most effective strategies – It’s true! In fact, 54% of marketers rate email as the most effective type of digital marketing and the least difficult to execute. Once you’ve built a relationship with your audience, you’re more likely to know what to promote, and your audience is more prone to act on it.
  • You gain insight into your customer base – From building a rapport and collecting data about clicks and open rates, you can further segment your emails to make them even more effective and entice specific groups with tailored discounts and information. It’s more than just collecting emails and sending out a blanket email to all – utilizing the information that you gather and then segmenting emails based on that information can lead to increased open rates of 39%!
  • Email delivers the highest ROI – Not only does a newsletter help increase website traffic since it constantly reminds your audience about your brand, it also builds upon that awareness so people feel comfortable acting on what you’re offering. In fact, it is shown that for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI.

How to Get Valuable Email Subscribers

Sure, those (somewhat annoying) pop-ups on your website can help you get the low-lying fruit. Besides making sure that the sign-up process is simple and visible throughout your website and more, consider how you can go beyond that and ensure that you are forging connections with the right people.

Some ideas:

  • Give discount codes/other incentives for new subscribers.
  • Run giveaways and contests, only for subscribers.
  • Curate useful resources that your visitors/customers will care about (and will align with your brand values)
  • Beyond discounts and free stuff, offer something exclusive that is only obtainable to subscribers. Maybe it’s a custom-made downloadable puzzle or game about your location, a packing list for their next trip, or an itinerary with local tips that can’t be found elsewhere. (The options for providing valuable content are truly endless.)

In essence: You want to come at an email marketing strategy with a solid content strategy – not just in order to get them subscribed, but also to keep them there. Once someone has opened their inbox up to you, give them the courtesy of only emailing them with things that are applicable, helpful, and even fun! Some ideas for that are up next.

Email Marketing Best Practices

According to best practices, on average, the optimal frequency for newsletters is no more than twice a week and at least once a month. You want these inbox invaders to be continuously welcomed, and not cause anyone to second guess why they subscribed to you in the first place. Give readers something to be excited about, or at the very least, inform them of something they didn’t know they needed!

Think about how you’re impacting them, not why you’re so amazing and why this new thing is so great for you. Frame the conversation on what you have to offer (ie: “Escape to the sunshine with this great deal!”, or “We can make your trip planning easier!”, etc).

There are some pretty common reasons why an email newsletter fails to engage or interest your customers. Utilizing some of the following tactics and strategies to incorporate into your email newsletter will help you get started on the right foot:

  • Have a mobile-friendly design – Did you know that 42% of readers will delete your email if it doesn’t show well on mobile? Not only does an email need to be supported on a desktop, but it also needs to be responsive and viewed properly on tablets and mobile. Ensure that you test your email on multiple platforms and devices prior to sending.
  • Use a catchy subject line – Get creative and brainstorm a short, sharp and engaging subject line that relates to your email’s content and draws people in. And don’t forget to use an emoji – in a recent study, just over half of the brands (56%) that used an emoji in their subject line achieved higher open rates. (But don’t use more than one, as significant emoji usage can look spammy and also increase complaint rates.)
  • Personalize the content – This is harder to do right off the bat, but as soon as you have relevant data, make sure to segment, segment, and segment your audience again! This will help you ensure that the right emails are hitting the right inbox. If you’re a destination, consider that you probably have different messages to share with people from your own province/state versus people from across the country. Tailor your segments, and your content!
  • Go easy on the text – The average human attention span is now down to 8.25 seconds. This means that the window to hook someone is getting smaller and smaller. Don’t make it even shorter by inundating them with large chunks of text. Use line breaks with catchy headlines, infographics, GIFs, and images to make your point as pleasant to peruse as possible.
  • Send your emails at optimal times – Sending newsletters during readers’ top engagement times can increase their average open rates and CTR by 6%. There are some standard dates and times available out there, but after a few emails this data will be available in your newsletter software.

If your email strategy is suffering even after following the above best practices, you can always ask your audience! Send out a survey and get insight directly from your audience on what they expect from your travel brand or destination for content. People love to feel like their input matters so this is a win-win to make them realize their feedback is important to your brand as well.

In conclusion, when it comes to an email marketing strategy, don’t spam people. Instead make time to employ a thoughtful and useful content strategy that continues long after the initial hook is gone. You have their email, they let you into their inbox, don’t be annoying about it.

As people become more and more discerning about who they give their email out to, you need to work to ensure you make every email update you send count and that it ends up hitting your ultimate goal: That your email update is opened, read, and your readers take the action you want them to take.

We have created content for several clients to help with email marketing campaigns including day-trip itineraries, photo guides, informative ebooks, and more. With award-winning writers and photographers on our team, you will receive high-quality content that will guarantee subscriptions.Contact us for info on how we can do this for your destination!

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