By Lisa Phillips, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer – Clairvoyix
Location, location, location – it’s the number one rule in real estate. In email we can say relevance, relevance, relevance. Email marketers recognize that even when an email has an appealing subject line, a captivating offer, and an engaging image, it will not perform if it is sent to the wrong recipient. But every week I receive hundreds of emails that have NO relevance to me – I assume the same is true for you. It seems that the audience is secondary versus primary to the email campaign strategy
Relevancy matters more now than ever, and each aspect of the email should be natural, familiar, consistent, and compelling to the recipient – in one word, relevant. If your email approach and message is not connecting with recipients, you won’t win their attention, you will not get their booking, and you will not achieve the ultimate prize – their loyalty. Here are some straightforward ways to make your emails more relevant.
When speaking with hotel clients, I have two “go to” phrases regarding understanding their primary audience:
Number One: Get your arms around your guest. Simply stated, know who your audience is when they are with you and when they are not. With visit data we are provided rich hotel stay-specific information such as number of adults and children, overall and outlet spend, length of stay, lead time, booking source, membership status, etc., and this data can and should be leveraged for all email marketing efforts.
But visit data only provides a partial profile of the guest. What about when that guest departs? This intel is even more important, because when we reach out to a guest via email, we are entering into their personal space – their home, their office. We need to know how to make a connection. A valid mailing address and email address can unlock supplemental and telling information such as demographics, psychographics, lifestyle/interests, buying habits and more, which completes the audience profile.
This can be done through any combination of the following:
Internal data – Customer provided information (survey data) acquired through comment cards, survey responses, web site forms, on-site events, etc.
Purchased data – There are numerous options available ranging from the more traditional demographics (i.e., household income and marital status) to more specific – such as discretionary income, club memberships, religious & political affiliation, subscriptions, buying habits, etc. Additionally, grouping data elements into clusters based on interest or life stage is also available and designed for marketers and can help with audience segmentation.
Purchased reports – If acquiring supplemental data is not feasible, profile and interest reports are a great alternative to get a better understanding of your audience and they are surprisingly affordable.
My number-two phrase: Sit in their seat. Do we really consider how it feels to be in the recipient’s seat, combing through a mountain of emails each day, making decisions on what to open, delete, click? This should be natural for us because as consumers we make those same decisions each day. Envision your recipient and how you can make that email relevant to them – relevant enough to take a positive action.
The subject line is the most important aspect of the email after audience. We have just seconds to grab the recipient’s attention with what matters most – what is relevant…to them. To do so, we need to keep the customer at the forefront of the subject line crafting process. This can be accomplished with Subject Lines that are personal and provide benefits. Simply switching words from “our” and “us” to “you” or “your” has proven effective as well as using benefit words like “member” and “exclusive”. And when additional audience intel is leveraged, such as referencing the recipient home location, (Just for Locals…) or interests (Tee Up Your Vacation…) the email is much more likely to be opened.
Along with benefit keywords, other strong performers are urgency words, such as “limited”, “expire”, and “now”, and command words such as “mark”, “come back” and “upgrade”. In reviewing hundreds of our top performing campaigns, the vast majority employed one or more of these types of keywords (benefit, urgency, and command) in the Subject Line.
We have already established that the email is about the recipient, not the sender. And if we have the audience right, then the recipient understands that they are on a list, be it a list of thousands or a list of one, and therefore, they expect a deal of some sort – savings, value-add, convenience, exclusive offering, new offering, or invitation.
Offers that are exclusive to those who have already paid to experience the hotel tend to perform better than perpetuating an existing brand or more generic promotions. Examples could include daily credits, complimentary nights, a free round of golf, or an exclusive invitation to the newly renovated suites – all options that are available when the audience and their past stay behavior is taken into consideration.
A “Limited Time Offer” (LTO) conveys a sense of urgency proven to elicit a response. Given the absurdly short attention span of humans, you are more likely to win the guest’s attention…a requisite first step before winning the booking. Understanding the audience regarding distance to the hotel and past lead-time booking behavior would determine who should receive such offers.
Finally, consumers need everything on one screen to make an informed decision (to click-through), for example, explain “Complimentary Parking” is a [$35 value], or “30% Off” by adding an “as low as”, “starting at or from” rate.
Your audience is hit with images constantly – but the use of imagery is more relevant today than ever before. So, understanding your audience and relation to the image is paramount. Dynamically switching the image dependent upon the audience segment can greatly enhance those connection feelings. This segmentation can be based on many data points including the recipient’s use of a hotel outlets, their interests, or who they travel with – families or business associates.
In general, we recommend selecting lifestyle imagery which focuses on the hotel location or property. This type of imagery helps establish an emotional connection with the recipient. Specifically, inspirational imagery which helps the recipient to see themselves in the environment: hikers at the local trails, friends at the spa, golfers enjoying a drink at the bar after completing their round, or even a luxurious room with a view of the beach.
For those properties that don’t have a golf course or a beach view, consider images that promote your convenient location, or renovated outlets or the expansive guest room – those things that you know provide benefits to your recipient. Stock imagery is not relevant – I’m not sure if that makes stock images irrelevant – but avoid them.
By using the audience to both drive your email strategy and content, your email communications will truly create meaningful connections to your audience which can lead to all kinds of good stuff. And let’s be real, most of your competition is not doing this. So don’t lose your focus – don’t let the hotel, ownership, or management company steal the spotlight off the audience. Don’t be irrelevant!
Milestone can make creating compelling content and sharing it with the world simple, intuitive, and affordable. To learn more, visit us at https://www.milestoneinternet.com or call us at +1 (408) 200-2211.
Does email marketing increase sales?
Yes, if you have a strong and genuine potential user list and follow some strategic plan to promote your services you can see a significant increase in your revenue.
How can I increase email open rate?
- Have a proper niche-targeted audience list
- Pay attention to the subject line it should be teasing and catchy
- Drop emails in peak times like 9 or 10 am when your audience is active
What are the best subject lines for my emails?
40% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone.
- Keep subject lines within 60 words and make it personalized
- It should be clear, precise, and engaging subject line
- Try A/B testing
How can I make my emails stand out?
Don’t always send a single type of email. Try some variations in email formats and email content as well. Plan like
- Weekly 2 sales-focused promotional emails about products or services
- Monthly 1 newsletter
- Monthly twice an email on customer engagement or any other which works better on the user engagement
How can I keep my emails from being sent to spam?
Avoid sending more emails to the list in short span because this results more subscriptions and marking emails as spam. This will lead to a decrease in sender’s reputation. Avoid spammy keywords in subject lines like Free, Discount, etc..
Author: Lisa Phillips
Lisa Phillips, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer – Clairvoyix
A recognized hospitality professional, Lisa has over 25 years of experience in hospitality technologies and customer relationship solutions. Successful in conceptualizing, developing, and implementing marketing initiatives for top-producing hospitality companies, Lisa is adept at building and cultivating executive-level relationships and partnerships. Prior to Clairvoyix Lisa held director positions ClubCorp and Pegasus Solutions, as well as multiple hotel marketing and operational positions.
Lisa received her BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Kansas State University and her Masters of General Administration from The University of Maryland. Lisa has been an adjunct business instructor and a speaker at Cornell University, HITEC, and other hospitality venues.