Travel planning is often a messy process, with many moving parts. Google shows us there are several important phases that come before the booking phase, and the dreaming & planning phases are the optimal time for making the case for your tour & activity.
One of the best ways to get on travelers’ radars? Email.
Email allows you to nurture prospective guests, educate people who have expressed interest in your experience, and even maintain relationships with past visitors. According to an eMarketer study, the median email marketing ROI is 122%. That’s four times higher than any other digital marketing channel. On average, you can expect 15.68% of people to open your emails, and 6.26% to click on links you include in your emails. This means your goal should be to always be getting new people on your list so that you can maintain communications.
Here are some of our best tips for getting your email marketing initiatives up and running.
Let’s say you’re starting off with zero email subscribers today and you want to start taking advantage of email marketing. Here are four things you can do to grow your list full of travelers today:
1. Set up an inquiry form on your website and create an option that people can check to opt-in to your list. If you get more phone calls than digital inquiries, don’t give up! Every time someone calls your business with a question, get their email and ask them if you can add them to your list. Tell them what’s in it for them if they sign up (because people can be hesitant about giving their email address in fear of spam) and make sure it’s spelled correctly.
2. Run a contest! Can you do a giveaway or offer a discount for those who provide their email address? This is ideal if you have a strong social media following but lack email subscribers. Or even if you don’t have a strong social media following, you can still leverage Facebook groups to promote your contest and get people to sign up that way.
3. Set up an opt-in for some high-quality content on your website. For example, an insider’s VIP guide to your destination is a no-brainer piece of content that all travelers are in need of during the planning phase. Canva has free travel guide templates you can use to make your content in a beautiful and easy way.
4.Capture emails at the end of your tour, however works for you. Many tour businesses have had success with having a ‘review’ station set up at the end of their tour. Hooking up an ipad to provide instant feedback and capture someone’s email address is an easy way to achieve several goals at once.
Unlike social media where you can get away with witty one-liners and lower value messaging, your email must have substance, or you will quickly lose your subscribers. Here are some high-value email newsletter ideas that will keep your email list engaged:
Upgrades To Your Tour & Activity
Of course it’s important to keep prospective guests up to date on what’s going in your business. Did you recently add a new feature? Are you participating in a new collaboration? Are you welcoming on a new team member? This is also a great opportunity to give tips on how to make the most of your experience. What do people need to know if they’re going to be joining you?
People love to hear interesting stories from around the world. Create emails that inspire them and make them want to visit your destination even more than they had when they first signed up! Tell them what they can do and see while they’re in the area, making sure of course to plug your own experience.
Promotions & Offers
Limited time offers perform really well in email marketing. But even if you don’t run sales or discounts, you can always promote seasonal packages or group offers. It’s best to follow the 80/20 rule for this: 80% of your content should be educational and tell a story, 20% can be promotional with a call to action. Of course, even in your non-promotional emails, you can include links and buttons back to your website and your booking software page.
It’s important to note that some of these emails will be more relevant to warm subscribers who have expressed interest in your tour vs. subscribers who are past customers. Ideally you will segment your list to separate these two types of customers into two groups. This will help you ensure that your messaging is tailored to the people who need to hear it most.
As with all things marketing, don’t be afraid to dial up the personality in your messaging. The subject line is a great place to do this. Keep it short, but don’t shy away from making it enthusiastic and passionate. There’s nothing worse than receiving an email that feels like just another advertisement. If you’re excited, that excitement will get passed on. So, make sure you’re always asking yourself “is this an email I would be excited to receive?”
Use this as an opportunity to really connect with guests. Genuinely ask questions and try to get a conversation going with people. When people email you back, make sure to respond!