The travel industry is a highly competitive place and the inboxes are jam-packed these days. When it comes to email marketing, you really need to stand out.

All of the best tour operators in the industry use email marketing to keep in touch with existing customers, engage with quality leads, and build stronger, more meaningful relationships with their audiences.

It's fast, affordable, and, according to CampaignMonitor, offers one of the best return on investment (ROI) rates of any marketing channel – an ROI of $ 38 for every dollar spent.

How can you make sure that your email content is not sent to the trash without being read, with so much traveler email content already out on the market?

Understanding how best to engage and inspire your target audience with email content is a simple process. Once you get an idea of ​​how to segment your mailing lists and create engaging emails.

This column provides tips and advice for tour operators looking to take their email marketing to the next level.

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Let's begin.

6 email marketing tips for successful campaigns in the travel industry

Some email marketing experts will ask you to collect as much contact information as possible on your website to ensure that your mailing list is extensive.

The problem with this approach is that the majority of readers are not interested in what you have to say.

You will be much more successful using carefully crafted lead magnets to benefit from people who are already interested in your offers rather than using a simple "opt-in" box.

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For example, suppose you have an article on your website blog that contains unique advice for travelers planning to visit Italy with children, for example.

You've studied your website analytics and you know that this post gets high traffic every month.

You also know that a significant portion of your customer base are parents who travel with their children.

This is the perfect opportunity to use a lead magnet.

At the end of this post, you can include a call to action that tells the reader that by entering their email address, they can get more specific travel advice from your email newsletter.

Even better, you have an engaging pop-up that entices users with a valuable free download of a kid-friendly travel guide to Italy or access to a list of the best family restaurants in Rome.

This will entice users to sign up for your list and give them value.

You sign up and you get a prospect who is already engaged in the content you are producing and is therefore more likely to respond well to other marketing materials.

Boom! A warm entry directly into your customer database or email marketing platform.

You can use this process to create banners on your website that appeal to different members of your target audience with different intentions and interests.

A good starting point is to analyze which pages are getting the most traffic, identify who is visiting and engaging with the content there, and creating a guiding magnet that will add value to them.

6 email marketing tips for successful campaigns in the travel industry

The easiest way to run your email marketing strategy is to use software that automates the process.

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We prefer GetResponse, but there are many different providers.

The automation software allows you to create special email paths for customers who sign up and customize the content they receive based on what brought them to your website in the first place and what they interact with afterwards.

Not only does this make your job a lot easier, it also allows you to closely monitor the success of each email path and determine where your readers are engaging and where they may be getting out.

Email Marketing Automation Flow.

A standard example of an automated email path starts with a prospect entering their email address somewhere on your website and being prompted by a guide magnet.

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You will then receive a welcome email from your travel company explaining a little about who you are and what you do.

This welcome email also contains several links to other relevant content or pages on your website that the reader may then click.

The content of this welcome email can be customized based on what encouraged the reader to give you their email address first.

So, if you got on your mailing list through an article about visiting Italy with children, you'll want to link them to more articles about family vacations, visiting Italy or family-friendly activities in Italy.

A number of specific branch office emails set up in your software will be sent periodically based on data such as: For example, whether the reader clicks a specific link in the email or visits your website and starts browsing.

You get a clear idea of ​​what your customer base is looking at and dealing with, and automation does the hard work.

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The delivery of these automated emails can also be tailored to the location and time zone of their recipients to increase the likelihood that they will be read.

Many email marketing programs allow you to go a step further and collect data about the time of day your recipients normally open your email.

You can then send more emails at this point, which in turn increases the number of people opening and interacting with the content you have shared.

Not bad for a simple piece of automation, right?

Segment your target audience

When it comes to adding value through your email marketing, segmentation is key.

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While some large tour operators can get away with sending generic emails to their entire customer base, it just won't produce the same results for the vast majority.

Dividing your recipients into different groups based on their interests and the content they are most engaging with is the best way to ensure that you are delivering valuable content only to your audience.

As you collect more data on what emails and content are most successful with each group, you can further personalize the content you send. This can increase engagement and improve conversion rates.

By including links to other pages, posts, and content on your company's website, you can gather data about what each recipient clicks.

The next emails users get will be based on the content they've been most concerned with and enjoyed the most.

Using the automation process outlined above, you can personalize the email paths for each of these groups and set the options based on how the user interacts with your communications.

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Including follow-up emails in your automated process asking if your reader liked the recommended content is a great way to engage your audience and get valuable feedback.

Create a simple link-click-based voting system that you can use to gain further valuable insights. The data you collect from it will enable you to intelligently guide your customers into your marketing / sales funnel and get more conversions.

By continuing this process, you will have an in-depth understanding of what your mailing list is looking for and will continue to personalize their emails to keep delivering valuable and engaging information.

You also become a trusted source of information and a thought leader in your field.

But don't just take my word for it.

A recent study by Google and Phocuswright found that 36% of travelers were more likely to pay more for a travel company's services if the information and travel ideas they received were personalized based on their previous behavior and preferences.

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You can't argue with that!

To tell a story

If "sell, sell, sell" is the focus of every email marketing you send, your audience will quickly lose interest.

An important way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to use your emails to tell stories and incorporate your products or services into them if they are relevant to the insights you are given.

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The best way to get through to people is to paint a picture in which they can only imagine. Use sensory descriptions and personal stories to get them hooked right away.

Storytelling with your emails not only makes them more memorable, it also establishes your business as a more believable source of travel advice.

Writing content that is personal, descriptive, really interesting, and engaging means your readers will hang around a lot more often, trust the information you give them and think of you when they start planning a vacation.

Many of us dream of traveling, and your emails should get the most of it.

Imagine you have two different emails in your inbox. Both come from tour operators focused on vacationing in Italy and both have content designed to inspire you to book your next trip with them.

The first email will open with a banner describing the company's current offers to visit the main Italian cities. There's a welcome, some engaging photos of places like the Colosseum and Rialto Bridge, and a well-written (if a bit boring) short article with five tips on how to get the most out of Rome, Venice, and Florence. The email closes with a message letting you know that the exclusive deals won't last long and that you should book your next trip today.

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The second email begins with a greeting from Francesca, an Italian travel expert who currently lives in Tuscany. She describes what made her fall in love with Italy in the first place, the different cities she has lived in and even the views of the Tuscan hills that surround her as she writes.

Francesca makes unique, thoughtful recommendations on some of the best places in Italy to visit over the coming months, drawing on her own experiences. A few links to the vacation packages that your company offers are integrated into the text, but nothing about "in-your-face".

At the bottom of the email are some more links to other content that Francesca has written. Since you've previously looked at content that focuses on family travel and places suitable for young children, the recommendations will be tailored around those interests.

Which of these emails would you most likely read, enjoy, and engage in?

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You don't have to be the next great writer to write compelling emails that tell a story. One of the easiest ways to compose email content like the one above is to use your employees or partners as speakers in your email, describing their experiences and putting faces to the name of your company.

An easy formula to follow is this. Set the scene, show credibility, offer advice, and then sell very subtly when it seems relevant to you.

Focus on adding value to the reader's inbox and getting their attention and trust instead of trying to sell your product or service every time.

The more emails you write and the more customer data you collect, the better you can get an idea of ​​what type of storytelling is most effective. Over time, you can refine your approach and produce great content every time.

As simple as that.

Integrate video

Data from a study by Econsultancy suggests that 66% of travelers watch videos of a destination while researching where to go.

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Research into the impact of video marketing also suggests that companies that use video marketing get up to 66% more leads than their competitors who do not.

With that in mind, including videos in your email marketing is a fantastic way to increase reader engagement and create a sense of wanderlust in your audience.

While well-designed text that tells a story is essential to successful email, video is the ultimate way to paint a picture for your reader and capture their attention and imagination in new ways. It's an easy way to break up blocks of text, more effective than just using photos, and can help explain detailed topics in a quick and easy format.

Video is one of the most versatile forms of content, and it's a fantastic way to get the most out of the content you create. A single 2-3 minute video can be broken down into several different sections for use in different emails. Also, it can serve as a trailer for a long video that is available somewhere on your website.

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Plus, it's a great way to "humanize" your content.

I talked about storytelling above using real people to tell your emails and adding videos only added to the effect. Your audience is far more likely to trust you after they've seen clips from people in your company describing experiences, providing advice, and providing valuable insights.

Video content is a big part of effective marketing. Implement it into your email strategy and the results speak for themselves.

Take care of your audience

The final piece of advice to effective email marketing is to promote your audience. Most importantly, what will increase customer satisfaction, drive repeat business and establish a positive brand image is producing content that is relevant, valuable and unique.

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Segmentation has been mentioned many times in this article, but it is the key to email content delivery that leads to success.

If you don't give your readers exactly what they want, they'll be unsubscribing from your mailing list. The best way to determine what they want is to create groups with different interests and goals, each one targeted with personalized content.

Each of your customer groups can be individually cultivated through your email content in order to build their trust and establish themselves as someone whose content they really want to read. This relationship takes time and investment. However, when your audience does choose to book a vacation, you are the company they think of first.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, your emails are only as good as the data you collect around them. It doesn't matter how amazing your writing is or how valuable your videos are if you don't analyze their success and target the areas your clients are engaging in.

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Once you have this process in place, you will find that email marketing is one of the most rewarding and effective marketing methods out there. It's inexpensive, has an immediate impact, and has a wide reach that can really help grow your customer base.

It's also a place where you are in control rather than relying on third-party platforms. Algorithm changes in Google or updates to the Facebook news feed can change your visibility overnight. However, adding these channels to an email list gives you a resource that you are responsible for and that cannot go away overnight.

As a travel company, your job is to take your readers to new places, both with your travels and with your content. Email marketing offers the perfect format for inspiration, advice, and brand affinity building. The best news is that anyone can do this.

Other email marketing resources:

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Photo credit

Screenshots and Recommended Image: Created and taken by the author, March 2021

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