Welcome to the Content Marketing Playbook series in which our expert shares best content marketing practices with hotel marketers! This is part 3 of the blog series.
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Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways for hotels to build awareness, develop stronger relationships with guests, and drive more direct bookings. Want to optimize your hotel’s email marketing? Consider implementing these tips in your upcoming campaigns.
1. Nail the subject line
Chances are, most of your subscribers are bombarded with emails on a daily basis. In the battle for consumers’ limited attention, you need to optimize your subject lines to increase the odds that your emails get opened.
Aim to keep your subject lines short and sweet. A maximum of 50 characters with spaces is often recommended. However, Mailchimp suggests to look up the top email clients for your audience and A/B test subject lines of different lengths. Personalizing your subject lines with each recipient’s name or location can also have a big impact on open rates. Studies have found that personalizing email subject lines can increase open rates by 50%.
It’s also worth playing around with mystery in your subject lines to increase clickability. For instance, a subject line such as “Ready to enjoy the most relaxing hour of your life?” could be used to promote your hotel spa. It’s an effective way to tantalize your subscribers and generate a feeling of curiosity.
Spelling out discounts in promotions is also an effective way to encourage more email opens. Always make the offer clear. Another successful tactic is to list the lowest rate a guest can expect for a certain promotion instead of just mentioning the percentage discount. When someone sees a subject line of Rates starting at $149 dollars, instead of Rates 20% off, it saves them a click to find out the actual price.
2. Harness the power of storytelling
Have you ever tried to use storytelling in your email marketing? While a predictable sales message is easy to ignore, a compelling narrative is a great way to hook your readers’ attention and keep them reading to the end of your email.
To bring a storytelling element to your emails, place the reader at the heart of an experience that you’re trying to promote. For instance, an email intended to sell a skiing trip could start like this:
“As you gaze out the window, you see a backdrop of snow-capped mountains sprawled before you. You clasp hold of your skis, step out into the crisp alpine air, and set off down a powdery white trail. Your adventure starts here.”
Having hooked your audience’s attention, you can then proceed to promote the specifics of the trip.
Alternatively, reach out to past guests and ask if they’d be willing to share a favorite experience on a visit to your destination – everyone loves authentic reviews! You could use the personal account as the opening to an email that promotes one of your hotel’s trips or tours. The words of your own guests will add social proof and a feeling of authenticity to your message.
Storytelling can be as simple as adding a couple of sentences at the start of your email. The ultimate goal is to pique the reader’s interest early on and make them more receptive to whatever you’re promoting.
3. Personalize and segment
Sending blanket emails to all of your subscribers will almost always bring limited results. According to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Marketers have also found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.
Segmenting your email list lets you appeal to the unique needs, interests, and preferences of different sections of your audience. For instance, business travelers may be tempted to book when you promote relevant perks for conferences or a guide to local expos in your region; whereas weekend travelers are likely to be enticed by your must-see attractions or a 48-hour guide to maximize their limited time.
It’s pretty easy to segment these kinds of broad demographics. But, you can segment your audience even further by looking at niche customer data such as past preferences, spending patterns, location, and job status. Hubspot has a great post on how to do this in order to devise more personalized emails.
Once you’ve segmented your audience, split them into distinct guest personas. Use these personas to ensure whatever you promoting is relevant and appealing. You can then personalize your messaging across all of your email marketing, from booking confirmations and pre-arrival/post-stay emails to retargeting emails aimed at guests that abandon their booking online.
4. Inspire with sensory language
Emotion-based emails are another powerful tool to engage your audience. By carefully using sensory-rich language, you can create vivid images that really capture the excitement and spirit of your destination.
Let’s imagine a hotel wants to promote its beachfront setting and new rooftop bar. Instead of just telling the audience about these appealing features, we can use sensory language that invites potential guests into the scene:
“After sunset strolls along our powder-soft beachfront, drift upstairs to our new rooftop bar. It’s the perfect spot for conversations and cocktails, with the sound of the ocean as your evening soundtrack.”
This form of descriptive writing communicates the hotel’s unique selling points, and it also creates an enticing image that taps into the emotional, experiential nature of travel.
You don’t want to take this approach all the time, but used effectively, sensory-rich language and vivid descriptions can dramatically enhance the desirability of your hotel and destination.
5. Don’t always be selling
People’s inboxes are bombarded with messages on a daily basis. To get your emails noticed and clicked, you can’t just rely on deals and offers. Capturing attention requires mixing things up and creating value, and emails without an obvious sales intent are a great way to do that.
One approach is to produce a series of emails that feature downloadable guides to your destination. Again, be sure to segment your audience and design your guides with their specific interests in mind to maximize engagement. Potential examples include:
- A neighborhood restaurant guide for your foodie loving guests
- Popular hiking trails for the fitness-focused
- Networking spots or co-working cafes for business travelers and freelancers
Try to include photos, maps, relevant links helpful resources, or insider tips from your staff or past guests.
As mentioned, personalizing your email can also help you connect with your guests. Let’s say you’ve created a running guide to your local neighborhood. A personalized email might look like this:
“Hi (guest name), we know you’re a running fan, so we thought you’d appreciate our guide to the top running routes in our neighborhood — created by our very own in-house fitness trainer. Hope it’s helpful when you hit the streets on your next stay with us!”
This under-the-radar approach is a great way to keep your hotel top of mind and build relationships by offering your subscribers something valuable that’s aligned with their interests. Finally, remember to include a call to action (CTA) in these kinds of emails to drive engagement, such as a link to a relevant page on your website.
6. Offer tips and how-to guides
This idea is simple. Provide a tip, hack, or insight that’s related to a product, upgrade, or service you’re promoting. Say you want to promote your hotel’s new gourmet coffee shop. Sure, you could just announce it via email and include a deal or promotion. But how about including recipes and tips from your barista to create the perfect coffee at home? Suddenly, there’s more value to your message.
Just created a sumptuous new pillow menu for your premier suites? Include a “sleep easy” guide for guests that includes top tips to enjoy a great night’s sleep on a long-haul flight. This approach is clearly more time-consuming, but providing valuable advice and tips helps establish you as an expert in your industry and creates a sense of authority in your messaging.
As a hotel marketer, it’s not only important to grow your email subscriber list, you also need to constantly nurture that list with captivating content and relevant offers. The success of your email marketing relies on constant testing, so be sure to run regular email A/B tests to improve your conversion rates.
By implementing some of the tips outlined above, you’ll be taking a significant step towards ensuring your emails capture attention, develop rapport, and drive action by your audience.