In this lesson, we’ll discuss how to use email marketing to grow your business. Let’s get started!
Email marketing is an efficient way to send content to your customers and contacts without sacrificing your time and budget. This is a year-round tactic that you can use to engage repeat customers and keep your business at the top of their minds (and inbox!). You can have a lot of fun with email marketing, and be quite successful, too. Did you know that email can bring in $38 for every $1 spent? Before you hit the ground running, let’s go over some tips and best practices so you can begin to develop your email marketing strategy. By the end of this lesson, you’ll be able to start email marketing like a pro.
The first step is choosing your email service provider. We recommend Mailchimp! Built for growing businesses, Mailchimp offers affordable options for tourism companies of all shapes and sizes. Mailchimp’s Forever Free plan lets you send up to 12,000 emails a month and have up to 2,000 subscribers, all for free. It all starts with building a clean email list.
This brings us to step two, creating your contact list. Having an up-to-date contact list is one of the best ways to stay on top of email marketing. Your list should be comprised of past customers and users who have interacted with your website or signed up to receive messages.
Before you start flipping through your address book, be sure to consult your FareHarbor Dashboard to update your email list with the newest additions. You can do this by running a Contacts Report in your Dashboard to generate a list of customers for all bookings in a specific date range. The Contacts Report can be filtered by a specific item, booking source, availability date or creation date. This report includes the customer names, email addresses and phone numbers of people who have opted in for remarketing.
Once you’ve downloaded your Contacts Report as a CSV, import the list into Mailchimp. Mailchimp can help you further segment your contacts, allowing you to create more personalized content. Segment your lists by age, gender, location, availability, booking date, and other variables to determine a specific audience, for example, repeat customers. This lets you send better targeted emails to your customers, making them more likely to book a tour or activity.
The most important thing to remember about getting subscribers is that you must get permission. Subscribers must choose to opt in, and you must provide an option for them to unsubscribe. Mailchimp takes care of this for you with an unsubscribe link in the email. For more information about email privacy, and how to grow your email list, see the additional content section below.
Now that you’ve got your email list and subscribers, let’s focus on what kinds of emails you should be sending. We’ll go over two of our favorites; newsletters and promotional emails.
A monthly newsletter is the easiest way to take advantage of email marketing. Use a newsletter to highlight new tours and activities, link to promo codes in your FareHarbor Dashboard, and re-engage with past customers. To make your emails stand out, offer insider information specific to the tourism industry. If your food tour guide recommends specific restaurants or has a “secret” pizza recipe, share this with your customers to engage with them in a meaningful way that doesn’t have to do with bookings. Monthly newsletters generate interest in your brand and place your business at the top of your customers’ minds.
Promotional emails are another campaign option used to target a specific audience with a new offer. One-off promotional emails can help promote new tour offerings and special deals to customers on your email list. Let’s go over three examples of promotional emails.
Our first email campaign uses seasonal promos to spark interest during different times of the year. For example, your steamboat cruise line has planned a Valentine’s Day dinner that you want to promote. Share your upcoming event in an email and create a new campaign in your Dashboard. Include a call to action in your email, for example, “Reserve now and get 10% off.” Catch their attention with an interesting subject line, such as, “Let us plan your perfect romantic evening.”
A second example uses promotional emails to target returning customers. Offer a discount to previous customers to incentivize them to book your tours or activities more than once. Target vacationers who visited your area last year with a fun subject line, like, “Only two months until summer…let the fireworks begin!” You can find these customers in your Contacts Report.
The final example uses promotional emails to attract local customers. By targeting area codes nearby, you can take advantage of an audience that doesn’t have to travel to reach you. This is especially useful during your slow season. Encourage them to visit your site with a memorable subject line, like: “You get the scoop first – Locals only offer.”
Speaking of subject lines, about 30% of consumers decide to open an email by the subject line alone. Use something attention-grabbing or clever! Keep it short and sweet at 40 – 50 characters. For example, “Warm up with summer savings!” Subject lines are the first thing your subscribers will see, but the body of the email is just as important!
Try to keep your emails similar in design and style. Choose a template that works well on mobile. Since half of travelers use their phones as their primary way to find tours and activities, your emails should make the booking flow as clear as possible. With several mobile styles and an option to preview how your email will look on a smartphone screen, Mailchimp makes it easy to design with mobile users in mind. See our recommended Mailchimp templates in the additional content below.
Once your campaign is ready to go, think about when you should release it. The average person starts to plan their trip 84 days ahead. If you want to target vacationers, time your promos accordingly so that your customers have enough time to book their tour.
After you’ve hit send, don’t forget to check in on how your email marketing campaigns are doing. This way, you can identify what’s working – or what isn’t – and make the necessary changes. There are a few ways to track your success.
Mailchimp offers email marketing reporting that helps you track all your data in real time. Use this service to monitor ROI, audience engagement, social ads, and more. The best part? Mailchimp’s mobile app gives you access to all this data on the go, so you can spend more time planning the route for your new sightseeing tour, and less time crunching numbers.
Another way to track the success of your promotional emails is by running a Custom Field Answers report in your FareHarbor Dashboard. Use this report to determine how many times your campaigns were used within a specific date range, which items they were used for, and their associated revenue.
A third option is to integrate Google Analytics with Mailchimp for in-depth reporting. By adding your Google Analytics account and setting up conversion tracking, your Mailchimp reporting will include all the data from your account, giving you more insights into your campaign strategy.
You now have all the tools you need to start email marketing. If you need a hand, FareHarbor is dedicated to helping you succeed. Sign up for a Live Train with one of our email marketing specialists for a working session to help you brainstorm. Check out our additional email marketing tips below.
Research your ESP carefully; we recommend Mailchimp
Make sure customers opt in, and give them an option to unsubscribe
Develop your target audience by segmenting your contact list in Mailchimp
Focus on your open rate, CTR, and unsubscribe rate to get a quick sense of how your campaigns are doing