The online channels travel shoppers use to research and book travel continues to grow.
From the traditional channels such as direct websites with engaging search engine optimised copy and pay-per-click advertising campaigns, to the growing channels of social media and mobile websites, Internet marketing is complex – a maze of branding and promotional messages from properties mixed with user-generated content and reviews from travellers. With this more fragmented way of reaching consumers, more resources must be allocated to reach them.
The Internet easily produces the highest ROI and best value in hotel marketing and, unlike other areas, the results of marketing efforts are measurable and transparent. Smart accommodation managers can use this information to their advantage to track, modify, and reinvest with confidence in revenue producing efforts.
However, email marketing is just as important as social media in the overall travel marketing mix. So don’t write it off but rethink its role. Many expected that social media would replace email marketing altogether. Instead of replacing email, however, social media has become an ally, joining forces with email marketing to provide consumers with yet another way to engage with the companies.
Not only is email one of the most ubiquitous communications platforms, a recent study revealed that because it’s more private, email is preferred over social media as sharing tool. The Association of National Advertisers in the US that conducted the study, advises marketers to provide email content that enhances consumers’ relationships with each another.
Since people love sharing vacation stories and photos so much, this bodes well for travel marketers. But you may need to rethink your email strategy to inspire more reader interactivity.
Many travel brands are revamping their newsletters to make content more shareable by featuring large photos, short stories, discounts, special offers and user-contributed material. Infuse the same energy and character of your brand campaign and social media program into the revised email format, and look for opportunities to cross-reference information across online marketing channels. For instance, feature vacation photos posted by consumers on your brand’s Facebook page in your newsletter and let Facebook fans know they may be able to see photos they post on the wall featured in the newsletter. Doing so will boost both communities’ numbers and encourage fan-generated content on your Facebook page and e-news.
According to the latest Email Marketing Metrics Report, despite the booming success of social media marketing, email remains the most reliable and effective tool for marketers today. Email remains the preferred method of communication among social media users who choose to interact with companies and brands online. Some 56% of Internet users interact with brands via marketing emails only, compared to 1.3% who interact only on Twitter and 0.7% who interact on Facebook alone. The same source reveals that Internet users engage with an average of 11.8 brands through email, compared to only 9.4 and 7.9 brands on Facebook and Twitter respectively.
Some interesting side issues revealed in the study showed that smaller email list sizes that range from 25-499 and 500-999 recipients perform better than list sizes that contain 1000 or more email addresses. Small to medium-sized lists tend to be more targeted and relevant to the recipients allowing email open rates to be a higher when compared to considerably larger lists.
Another aspect is that email marketers can expect their open rates to peak within the first two hours after delivery. This peak is then followed by a sloping decline for the next 46 hours, indicating that those who are looking forward to the email, because they recognise the brand or come to expect the email as a source of valuable information, are more likely to open it soon after it reaches their inbox.
In general, subscribers showed the highest engagement by clicking on links within emails during the weekends. Sunday in particular generated the highest volume of opens and clicks during the year with an open rate of 12.2% and a click rate of 4.4% on average. Click rates were lowest on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
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