‘Untapped potential’: How to make your email marketing work harder
A poll at our Digital Breakfast suggested travel brands still aren't getting the best out of email. Here are some of the key points from our decks and the audience Q&A
On 29 June we hosted an audience of marketers from around the travel industry to look at why email is still a key channel – and more importantly, how to make it work. Chief commercial officer Helene Hall introduced our Email Marketing Framework and I brought an editorial view to putting it into practice, before we finished up with a Q&A.
Some evergreen points of contention came up (emojis in subject lines: smiley face or sad face?) but the real headline was how much untapped potential there still is in email marketing for travel businesses. If you couldn’t join us or you’d like a recap, here’s what you need to know.
Quality over quantity
One of the most common questions on email marketing is ‘how often?’ Actually, when and how often are less significant than what. Frequency and timing are important, but your main focus should be on the quality of your emails. That goes for both the message you’re conveying (i.e. your proposition), and the content you’re conveying it with (i.e. your subject line, body text, etc.).
It’s still vital to plan and consider your timing (if you’re running a Valentine’s campaign, start in January – don’t schedule an email on 14 February when it’s too late for customers to buy). But as with all content, quality is the foundation of success with email, and this was the key take-home from the Melt panel.
In-market contact remains an untapped opportunity for the travel industry
We polled the audience on which stages of the customer journey they target with email content. We had a hunch about what the results might be, but it was still illuminating – although 100% of those attending sent marketing emails pre-sale, almost two thirds said that was the only stage at which they emailed customers.
Email is great for driving sales, but that’s just one opportunity; the customer journey doesn’t end with booking, so neither should your email contact. Those 36% targeting customers in-market and post-sale recognise that covering the customer’s whole journey is vital to building loyalty, driving brand awareness and securing repeat business.
And the potential for using email post-travel is just as wide-ranging. On the same day as our event Skift reported on how travel managers could be missing out on post-travel feedback – a problem to which email offers an obvious answer. Travel management companies (TMCs), in turn, could do well do capitalise on this.
Why the travel industry can add (and gain) value in-destination
Travel companies can and should produce content that’s relevant and offers value at every stage – particularly while customers are actually travelling. Destination guides, travel tips and social media-driven content can help customers get more out of their stay, and are also potential vehicles for upselling and cross-selling while customers are in-destination.
As subject matter experts, travel businesses have a real opportunity to be seen as high-quality content producers that help travellers out. And with the abolition of mobile roaming charges this summer travellers are even more connected while in-market, making email an obvious channel for growing digital markets like the tours and activities sector.
Businesses are keen to cash in
We finished the event with a Q&A and the audience’s questions showed an awareness of email marketing’s wide-ranging potential. One audience member asked about best practices for B2B marketers to drive prospects down the sales funnel. Relationships are critical in B2B marketing, and the directness of email can be a huge asset; of course it also means that quality is more important than ever, and email must be part of a wider content strategy.
Other delegates were simply keen to know dos and don’ts; we covered a few ever-hot topics such as subject lines and the question of buying in email databases. But when asked about the biggest email marketing mistakes, I came back to quality – a relevant message sent to a targeted audience, conveyed in a way that reflects your brand and the value you offer is essential.
Keep an eye on our events page if you’d like to join us for our next Digital Breakfast or webinar.