If you’re in the travel industry, you may or may not know that email is as well-traveled as your customers wish they were.
With one click of the send button, you can reach a worldwide audience immediately. And in today’s mobile, on-the-go world, you’ll land directly in their hand.
Let’s take a look at how you can use email marketing to get yourself a piece of that pie.
Benefits of Email Marketing for the Travel Industry
First of all, let’s talk about why email is so important. It’s estimated that we’ll have 2.9 billion email users on the planet by 2019.
While we’re piling on giant numbers to make our point, let’s not forget that there are 105 billion emails sent every day, with that number expected to increase to 246 billion by 2020.
There are several more reasons you should be doing email for your travel business:
- It’s affordable. Email marketing is one of the cost-effective marketing solutions available today.
- It’s fast. Thanks to free HTML email templates, you can create and send your first email campaign in under 30 minutes. That’s less time than it takes to fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas!
- It’s focused. You can send to a targeted list and have one clear call to action, allowing you to hit a relevant audience and achieve your intended goal.
- It’s simple. It’s simple enough for your marketing intern to take the reins when needed. You can use a drag-and-drop editor to design an email that will impress your creative team and you’ll achieve results to impress your boss.
- It works. It’s estimated that when done well, email will deliver $42 for every $1 spent.
Our friends at Litmus have put together some pointers for travel industry professionals looking to capitalize with email marketing. The good news is, that even in the bad news (some feel they aren’t really connecting with their audienec) there’s an opportunity for improvement. That’s why we’re here. To learn from the numbers and see what we can do better than our competitors.
Take a quick look at this presentation from Litmus:
Some of us may often drift away into daydreams of destinations near and far, but the reality is we can’t afford to go on vacation every other week, month or even year. However, you want your business to be the first thing a person thinks of when it is time for a vacation. Email marketing helps you stay top of mind.
You can also use email to grow your customer base. If you have a blog on your site or you’re offering travel advice or tips in a newsletter, you can attract subscribers who will later become customers with an effective email marketing strategy.
Because it’s so easy to create well-designed, professional-looking email campaigns, even the smallest travel business can compete with the larger ones in their space. If you look the part, your customers and prospects will believe it. It’s one major advantage in the digital age.
Nobody Leaves Home Without Their Smartphone
Think about the last time you heard a friend recount a story of trying to teach a grandparent or parent how to use their smartphone or that a coworker shared a story about their still-young child begging for a phone of their own. Almost everyone has a smartphone these days.
In fact, a smartphone is the preferred accessory for 76% of travelers. Additionally, 85% of travelers will use their smartphone to coordinate some aspect of their trip. That could mean booking their trip, checking in for flights, research for places to eat or sights to see. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that you must be thinking mobile when you create an email marketing strategy for your travel business.
There is Opportunity in Mobile Travel Marketing
Americans are not the only ones using smartphones. Across the globe, smartphone adoption continues to increase. That means you can be targeting travelers near and far with an email campaign.
Nearly 70% of travel-related emails are opened on a mobile device. We know that these travelers are using their smartphones from the time they research and book a trip, through to finding activities when at their destination, taking photos and checking into their flight home. If you already know they’re using their phone, the next step is to time your emails with those activities for maximum impact.
Let’s not forget one important fact: the only thing you can sell in an email is a click. The conversions will take place on your website. So, some of your campaigns may be primed for viewing on a desktop versus when to target mobile viewers. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your customers and leads and where they’re at or what they may be doing when they receive your emails. Do you have customer profiles to help you understand your audience to this extent?
How to do Email Marketing for the Travel Industry
If you’re still unsure of whether or not you should be doing email marketing for your business, perhaps it’s time to see someone to discuss your stubbornness. For the rest of you, let’s take a look at how you should get started:
- Establish your email list. It all starts with your email list. If you’ve been in business for a while, you undoubtedly have a list of emails from all your customers. Upload that to your email marketing account. Friends, family and leads who have given you permission to send to them can also be included.
- Grow your list. Next, you should create signup forms to be placed anywhere you have touchpoints with potential customers. Your website, your Facebook page and even on a tablet or computer in your brick and mortar location(s). Tell them why they should subscribe and incentivize them to do so. If your customers can book with you online, you can also add opt-in options during the purchase process.
- Email content. The most common comment from novice email marketers is that they just don’t know where to start when it comes to knowing what to send. A monthly newsletter is one of the easiest things any business can do. Send helpful tips on things travelers should know when going to a certain destination or how they can get the biggest bang for their buck. Also, a welcome email campaign or series to greet new subscribers can help you convert leads into customers faster than ever before.
- Guidebooks for various destinations
- Information on attractions, events, holidays or festivals
- Destination reviews
- Success stories from happy customers
- Some additional content to consider:
- All about timing. The most successful marketing is customer-centric. That’s why the aforementioned subscriber profiles are so important. If you can gain an understanding of where they might be at a certain time of day or during their trip, you can send the perfect campaign at the right moment. Part of it is creating the profiles or personas. The other part is reviewing your email reports to see when your emails are being opened. More on that later.
- Create a sending frequency and content calendar. You likely already know the most popular times of the year for travel. Spring break, summer vacations, Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc. You can plan your email marketing for the quarter or the year and work backwards from there on when you should be sending. Plus, gaining an understanding of how often your subscribers want to hear from you will help you determine which campaigns to send and when.
- Send your first email. It all starts from the first time you hit send. Choose a free HTML email template or design your own with a drag-and-drop editor. Fill in your content. Hit send. You’ll learn as you go and improve with each new campaign. If you’re not even sure what to send, start with a survey asking what your subscribers want from you!
- Review your reports. Once you’ve hit send, it’s time to track your reports. Your open rate will show if you had a good subject line and a recognizable From Name. Your click-through rate will show if the content in your email is compelling enough. That’s just the start of what you can learn from your reports.
Practical Strategies for Successful Travel Email Marketing
Let’s take it a step further than here are the very basics of what you need to do and look at some tips to help you thrive with email marketing.
- Personalization. The numbers support using a personalized approach to your travel customers. 83% of millennials won’t mind being tracked for personalized service and 85% of travelers desire a customized itinerary. You can also insert a subscriber’s name into a subject line or in the copy of the email, to make it seem like it was created just for them.
- Use video. subscribers attention in ways that evan a photo cannot. You want them to feel what it’s like to be somewhere and like they have to be there for it. FOMO is real. Plus, 66% of travelers will watch video when doing research on a destination.
- Location. You can use your subscribers location to sent them targeted campaigns for vacations they might be interested in. If they live in Los Angeles, you may not need to send them to Southern California vacation destination email that the rest of your subscribers may crave. Or, if you’re sending campaigns intended to be seen by a subscriber while they’re on their trip, you can include weather information, events for the time they’re there or more.
- Create a sense of urgency. Vacations aren’t necessarily impulse buys, but if someone is already researching a trip they might be more inclined to pull the trigger if you hit them with a promotion at the right moment. But put a time limit on it. It could be a flash sale for a few hours after hitting send or a deal that lasts through the weekend. Make them feel like they need to take action now!
Get Started Today
Are you ready to put what you’ve learned to use?
Signup for the free Benchmark Starter Plan. Send to up to 2,000 of your subscribers at no cost. Get access to the features you need to begin your email marketing. Don’t pay until your list grows past 2,000 subscribers or when you’re ready for our features such as marketing automation which are only available on our Pro plans.
Share Your Story
Have you successfully used email marketing for your travel industry business?
Share your successes and tips in the comments section. We want to hear from you!