Email is no doubt one of the most effective marketing tools for hotels to connect with past, present, and future guests. We’ve seen that even during a global pandemic, email shines through as one of the strongest, most reliable forms of communication. With recent privacy changes affecting targeted ads, the importance of email marketing is poised to increase even further. More than ever, hoteliers must maximize the use of this channel to ensure they stay consistent with their brand and share relevant, personalized information with their database.
However, simply sending emails to anyone that provides their address is an easy way to make users unsubscribe. Hoteliers need to make sure their emails stand out in the inbox and offer some kind of value. Otherwise, instead of nurturing the guest relationship, hoteliers risk driving potential guests away and creating a negative experience associated with their brand.
So how can hoteliers make their emails stand out?
Read on to discover the key principles that turn lookers into bookers according to Nicola Graham, Vice President of Marketing at Cendyn
It’s what’s inside that counts
People are used to receiving spam emails, so there are no guarantees they will open every message that reaches their inbox. First and foremost, hoteliers need to give users a reason to open their marketing emails. This is done by offering value. Special offers are an obvious example — the promise of a great discount is usually tempting enough to make users want to learn more. Not only will they open the email, but they will likely stay subscribed to learn about future offers.
Value in marketing emails does not always have to come in the form of discounts or perks. Property updates or news about upcoming events can also be valuable information for potential guests, especially if those users expressed interest in the property by signing up for a newsletter or email updates. However, it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity. For example, subscribers would probably enjoy learning about new pool cabanas or upcoming concerts at the property, but an email sharing unrelated updates could easily make them opt-out. These days everyone’s inbox is overcrowded, and all it takes is one bad email or too many emails for a user to unsubscribe.
Content is king
Even if an email offers value to potential guests, it still needs to be expressed clearly and in a way that is enticing to users. The copy used in an email has a few very important jobs, so email marketers need to choose their words carefully.
First, the copy must grab the user’s attention. An email is only as good as its subject line — if the subject line doesn’t pique the user’s interest, they will never open the email, and all the work will be for nothing.
Second, the copy must encourage conversions. If the email is promoting a great discount, then the copy might simply describe the terms of the offer. However, copywriters have other tools at their disposal, such as inspiring language (“escape to your private island paradise”) or urgency (“don’t miss this offer!”), all of which can make users more likely to click.
Third, the copy needs to reinforce the hotel’s branding. If a user signed up to receive newsletters or email updates, then they have already expressed interest in the brand. Naturally, the messaging in
the emails should have the same personality and tone of voice they’re used to. Anything else would feel less genuine and more like spam.
Dress to impress
“Dress to impress” doesn’t just apply to fashion choices — it also stands true for your email communications. The visual appearance of an email has a huge effect on the user experience. Just like the copy, the design has to grab attention, encourage conversions, and reinforce branding. Email designs can vary widely depending on the content and branding, but there are some best practices to keep in mind when it comes to turning lookers into bookers.
An effective email must have a clear goal, which is usually to make users click the link at the bottom. The design of the email should be similarly clear and to the point. Keep images to a minimum — one photo at the top of the email along with your logo is usually enough. This helps guests immediately see who the email is from. Remember that multiple images and excessive design elements can distract the eye from the most important part: the call-to-action (CTA) button. The CTA should be prominent, and the overall design should guide users toward it.
Once you have “dressed up” your email and created a beautiful design for your audience, you need to make sure that everyone can enjoy it. A responsive design will adapt to display properly on whatever screen and device it’s opened on, whether phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. If it doesn’t display properly, certain elements may not be visible, and links might not work — including the all-important CTA. Using the proper tools, such as Cendyn’s eInsight CRM platform, ensures that your designs always look their best. The platform uses responsive design templates to ensure good UX across all device types.
The power of personalization
One of the most powerful ways that hoteliers can get users to open their emails is through personalization. If a user sees that the hotel cares about who they are, where they are located, and what their interests are, they can assume that the content will be relevant, and they will be much more likely to open the email.
Content can only be personalized if you have information about who your guests are. Thankfully, today’s hospitality technology makes it easier than ever for hotels to manage user data and leverage it to power personalized messaging. For example, Cendyn’s next-generation customer data platform, Starling, gathers data from the various touchpoints across a website and uses it to effectively segment audiences and speak to them directly. This allows hoteliers to maximize the value of the data they already have and use it to generate additional business.
The right message at the right time
Lastly, the timing of an email can play a big part in whether or not it gets opened. Smart hoteliers send the right messages at the right time to maximize opens and conversions. For example, if a user just booked a stay, then sending an email that promotes a new offer probably won’t perform well. On the other hand, if you send an email with details of upcoming concerts or local activities during their stay, the user will be much more likely to open it.
This is another area where the correct tools make a difference. Cendyn’s eInsight CRM platform uses automation to send these high-impact emails at precisely the right time, so hoteliers never miss a beat. Even better, the platform helps hoteliers track the effectiveness of their email sends, making it easy for them to refine their email strategy over time based on their unique audiences.
Summing it all up
Email marketing is one of a hotelier’s most powerful tools, but only if their emails are being opened. Hoteliers need to carefully think through what value they can offer through email, and then make sure to give the copy, design, personalization, and automation the attention they deserve. Of course, having the latest tech tools makes it that much easier. In the end, creating successful email marketing is just like running a successful hotel — it comes down to knowing who your potential guests are, anticipating their needs, and giving them what they want.
Opinion from Nicola Graham Vice President of Marketing at Cendyn