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My talk from the Hotel Website Marketing Conference.
Download and print the checklist mentioned here.
Today, I’m going to tell you about email marketing. It’s probably not the shiniest, sexiest form of marketing that you have ever heard of today, but I can tell you it works.
Behind every good social network and twitter account there are email notifications updating you as to what’s happened.
And there’s a very good reason why email works so well as it does and that’s because almost everybody has it. There are 1.4 billion email addresses currently in the world and at least half of them are checked daily. So it is well worth looking at.
Email works best in two ways that I’m going to discuss with you today. One, look at it as a customer retention tool and two, look at it for sales and campaigns. I’m going to ask for a bit of audience participation here for the next step, I’m going to ask you all to stand up, please. Just to give you an idea, if you are sending out an email campaign, what kind of numbers you can expect and all the rest of the talk today is about how you can influence those numbers.
For the case of today each of you stands for 10 people. So we are sending out a campaign to 1000 people – for a particular sales campaign for a particular offer. So you send it out to a 1000 people, actually you’re going to test it first. You are going to send out two versions of the campaign, one to a 100 people and one to another 100 people and you’re going to see which gets the best response.
So from that you are going to lose 200 people. Can I ask the back two rows to sit down please? The best message and best creative you’re going to send out to 800 people. Of those 800 people, 200 will open it, so can I ask the next three rows to sit down please?
Of those 200 people who open it, 8 are going to click on your campaign, so can I ask just the front row to stand up and everyone else to sit down.
Of those 8 people, just one person is going to buy from you. So can I just ask one person to stand up? The rest of you may sit down.
So that’s one person of a campaign of a thousand newsletters that you just sent out. But it costs you about ten euros to send out that campaign, they have just bought a weekend from you for about 500 Euros. So, for an investment of about 10 Euros you’ve just brought in 500 Euros and that is from one email campaign that you just sent out. I hope you’re sending out a hell of a lot more campaigns throughout the year
I use that sort of as a baseline for you and also if you are using email and you are not achieving those kinds of results you need to seriously look at what you are doing. Email marketing offers one of the best returns on investment for online marketing. It is exceeded only by search engine marketing. Below that, at almost half the value are your paper clicks, Google analytics – it is direct, it is personal , it can be highly targeted and it is a really highly effective tool. So I am going to present ten checklists for you, and you can get them at the end of the talk, print them out, stick them up in your office and look at them every month that you are doing your email marketing.
First are you capturing subscribers everywhere? How many people are walking through your hotel today, and how many people are you actually getting email addresses for. You can get them in a lot more places than you might think. How many people came to your website today? Are you capturing their email addresses? People are going to huge efforts to try and find you, whether online or offline, they are going through the effort to get to your hotel. Grab on to them, don’t let them go – please. Eighty percent of people that visit your website never return again. Find a way to grab a hold of them. Capture them on the web, by phone, reception, bar, spa, golf if you do that. Capture them at dinner, have forms ready in different places and train your staff to ask: “I might not have the answer now and I know there is something you are interested in – how about we send you updates when it is on again?” – every opportunity you have.
And then if you run out, don’t just look inside your own hotel, look outside. Is there any way outside your hotel you can capture subscribers, linking them with different organizations, putting out offers, competitions.
Some of the most effective ways of getting subscribers is of course, ask, captured through your website. Look at co-registration deals with other organizations so you can share subscribers. Offer a course…I know one hotel that did very well by offering a wine appreciation course, purely by email. What they did is they repurposed all the content and information about the particular wines they were stocking from their wholesaler and they repackaged it as a course – one newspaper ad, very cheap, lots of subscribers. A lot of long term business from those subscribers.
Put out an e-book I know another B+B and what they have done is they have traveled around to all the local attractions and put together an ebook that can be downloaded for their area, giving them a tour guide. They put it on their web page and you have to subscribe to get access to that.
Ask for referrals from existing subscribers. Offer free stuff and any emails you are sending out, mention your email newsletter.
Just some examples of subscribe forms that are out there at the moment, I wont name these guys …it is a terrible subscribe form. They are asking for too many details and there are too many obstacles. Basically look at the fact that every additional element you are asking of subscribers, you are going to lose some of them. But at the same time, you need to try and capture as many details as you can from those subscribers as possible, and I will tell you how you might be able to do that.
I put this as a much better example of a subscribe form. They have got a reason as to why you would want to subscribe and they have a competition to enter in to stay in their sister hotel. If there was any suggestion there it would be to make a bigger pizzazz about the competition to get the subscribers, make it pop!
A particular technique for catching subscribers was from a hotel in the US called the Broadmoore Hotel and what they did was a trade conference and they offered a competition for a free digital camera. It was a particular trade conference for people organizing events. They wanted to promote their meeting facilities. So what they did was a competition for a camera and they got about 300 entries. And they set up a series of 3 email newsletters. The first email newsletter was to tell them “thank you for entering our competition, we will let you know your results shortly, also here is some information about other services we offer.” They did a follow up letter with “There is a winner/ come check our website to find out if you won and also, here are some other services we offer.” And then the third email was, “Sorry you didn’t win/ Here is another competition/ All you need to do is sign up to be contacted about details about particular offers we have.”
They spent around 15 thousand setting up the booth and the competition, and in return they brought in about 250 thousand dollars worth of business from that individual campaign and they still have the subscriber base to build upon going forward.
In terms of detail and capturing lots of information, there is a lot of information you can capture without asking. Email, first name, brilliant. In terms of city and country, with a little bit of basic technical know how, you can capture that information from their IP address. So there is no reason to ask for those if you can find the information any other way.
Have you asked for permission – which is always the big question. Of course you have to ask permission to mail someone, but there are two definitions of spam: The law and then the real world. The law says you can email another business if you have had any contact with them at least once. If they ask to be unsubscribed, you have to provide unsubscribe information. That is essentially it. If you have no business contact with them, you cannot contact them and if they have not asked, you cannot contact them. I would actually say to disregard the law – not in terms of spamming everyone, in fact quite the opposite. You have a new concern in that everyone you email now, and all their email clients have a big huge “this is spam” button on top of their email client. If anyone presses that, it all feeds back to the ISPs and it will build up a profile on your email domain that you are sending out from. If enough people click that, it will affect all of your business emails. People can forget that they subscribed. People use this as the easiest way to unsubscribe and it is going to affect your business. So it is important that you are sending out relevant information, that they clearly did subscribe and that you are providing information that they are going to want in the future.
There is a third concern regarding spam laws, and that is that you need to be concerned with the spam laws in the country you are sending to. So if you are sending to the US, subscribers in the US, their spam complaints come under their law. So please make sure that you have permission and that you are sending them good content.
Make sure you are capturing the details of the right person. You may be getting my credit card details and name on the booking but it is my wife who decides how the credit card gets spent.
If there is only one thing you do with your emails lists, do this: segment your users into tastes, events, dates, anything you can to narrow them down into particular groups. It is one of the most powerful and most underused aspects of email marketing. I suggest breaking them down into tourists and local, if you do a lot of local business. In terms of tourists, try and find out where they are from, the reason for travel, the dates they are traveling on and services used. So if they are heading over on a particular date, chances are they are going to have holidays the same time next year, so start sending out a campaign shortly before their holidays. If they are coming over for a particular date, find out why and maybe there is a chance you can attract them again next year. If they are coming over for your spa then you will know they loved your spa – so send them out offers just for that spa. If they are coming over for golf, same thing. One hotel group I was working with was actually monitoring at what particular time subscribers were actually opening their mail so that they would send a campaign again next week or next month at that same particular time because they knew chances are the people are sitting in front of their computer at that time.
Local, again, why, are they there for a birthday, are they there for an anniversary, it happens every year, are there particular activities are there some sports on TV, you can talk to them again next week when there is another football match, you can bring them in.
So please segment your subscribers. It is an amazingly powerful tool and it will actually drive your marketing, going forward.
Tell them you are not dead. There are three types of email marketing and the first is the email to tell them you are not dead, because if they don’t hear from you every month, they are going to forget you and they are going to think you are dead. I am suggesting that you should be sending out at least two different campaigns every month.
One is the “I’m not dead” email – “Hi, we are here, hope you are well, just touching base.” And the other is a particular sales targeted campaign which is based on your segmented list. View the “I’m not dead” email as a customer retention tool to build trust and relationship. And when you build that trust and relationship it will make your sales emails so much more effective and powerful.
Brand it, Keep it short and sweet, about 3 short paragraph articles, you don’t have to go into any great depth. Make sure it is useful and as was discussed earlier today, put in links to your other social media, your Facebook account your Twitter account that people can connect with. People like connecting with you through different channels.
In terms of what type of content you can be sending, Kieran earlier, at Ireland.com handed you a terrific tool as far as I’m concerned, the first time I had seen his talk today. But sending you information on local events, on local content, on things to do, things to see – that is almost providing all of your content for you that you can send out to particular subscribers. That is going to save you a huge amount of time.
There are free information, free content and articles out there, one is Ezinearticles.com, various quality in those articles but you can use them for free. There are images out there, Istockphoto.com is pretty cheap per image or you can use Flickr.com with creative commons which are basically images that people upload to Flickr, allowing other people to use them, you just have to link to their website.
Send out seasonal messages /how to guides.
There is a great video on Youtube on how to pack like a butler, which has 42 thousand views on Youtube. It’s Youtube. Why don’t you imbed that on your site and link to it from your email.
Cooking tips as the Kilkenny River Court did from their chef.
Of course, travel tips
Personal stories. The Shellbourne has one about a baby being born in the room.
You can aggregate news and send it on. Just attribute to where the news came from.
Break down reports into plain English for travelers.
Fun news, I know a good hotel that sends out a Good News Thursday. People love receiving that. Or share your own news.
Top ten lists are very effective, I think that keeps the TV station Channel 4 in business with their top 100 comedy moments every Christmas.
Share your expertise.
Keep it simple. Add value. If you can’t write 3 articles, write 1. But make sure it is of use to the people you are sending it to. Be useful, be personable.
Don’t spam and don’t attach big attachments. I got one from a hotel recently and it was a 10mb download. I was downloading it on one of the little Three mobile dongles and it took ages. I don’t want to know how much it costs and it was just a menu for the restaurants. It was very very disappointing. Please don’t do that.
The second campaign you send out each month is a targeted offer or offers, depending on your groups. After segmenting, this should be very very easy – because it is going to be driven by the data. You are going to know every given month whose birthdays are coming up.
If you are checking in with the rest of the hotel, you know who has not played golf in a while. Send them a reminder. Send them an offer. If they have played golf a lot, send them an invite to invite friends along.
You know when Mothers day is coming along. You know when people have taken holidays so you know when their holidays are due again next year..
Send a clear targeted offer to these people. If you have concerts on, send them an offer. If you know what particular music they have been to in the past.
Easter and Mothers Day day of course.
Even language can be targeted by. This is what we have done ourselves which is sent out in English French, Dutch, and German
But don’t target it too much because we had one hotel and golf resort send out a great offer for the ladies night for the over 50s. And no one replied because they did not want to admit they were over 50.
You have heard a lot of mention about social media today. It can actually be a hugely valuable tool for market research to help you decide when you are sending out your email. I set this up about a week ago on Twitter, through the Twitter search. Twitter search gives out a little RSS feed, Mark was showing you, and you can import that link into Google reader.
Google reader after a week will show you these nice charts of when people mentioned that particular term, last week, last month and when during the day most people were mentioning that term. That gives you the data of when to send your particular campaign. Hugely valuable.
Automate your marketing. There is a huge amount you can automate out there. You can set up your mails to go out 12 months, 24 months in advance and you can even put them in a cycle because people aren’t going to remember what they got two years ago.
So we are talking what – 12 particular articles set up, or 24, and you do it once. You set up the automation through tools I will show you later that will do this. Then you sit back and concentrate on other parts of your marketing.
For bookings, events, locations, look at setting up an automated series of mails that can go out, associated with that.
An auto responder. Most of the email marketing tools do provide this as part of their feature set. And it is basically that when someone’s email address is added a set series of emails, for a particular amount of time is sent out to that user, one after the other.
I was at a hotel just about two weeks ago and I was looking closely at the customer journey in preparation for this and I was looking at how I might improve it and I so I booked the hotel and I just got a confirmation email and not a whole lot more. What I think should have happened, was that as soon as I booked, I got a follow up thank you email and then immediately an upsell email to try and offer me a deal on a dinner that night that I am staying, local events, do deals with local organizations. But I definitely should have been upsold because I want to have a good time when I am there. It is not really a sell if you are providing opportunities for me to have a really good time while I’m there.
Just before I arrived I should have gotten an email confirming all of my details, how to get there, my travel itinerary and possible other things I could see while I m there. And then afterwards I definitely should have gotten a thank you email and can we send you more information, check out our social media channels.
That is just my suggestion of a way that could have been used more effectively.
Again, as I just touched on there, upsell your customers and there are huge amounts of opportunities you have. When someone’s making that booking they have the credit card in their hand, they have trusted you enough, you want to take advantage of that, they want to have a good time. Help them have a good time by providing additional services. You are in a great position; you have the customer on the hook.
Upsell dinner, spa, breakfast, an upgrade in hotel room, but make the offer time limited in order to get them to respond very quickly.
This is an example from the Luxor in Las Vegas after a booking they send out information on their restaurant and their dinner.
I hope you are tracking your return on investment. For hotels, this is a general number, an average number for hotel rates. Expect an open rate of 27.5 percent,. a click through rate of 7.17 percent A spam rate of .08 percent and an unsubscribe rate of around . 49 percent.
The more you segment your lists and the more you target your messages, the more those numbers are going to go up. This is an example of the many tools that are out there. This is an example of the data they can give back to you. So you send out a campaign and this will give you information on who opened, what bounced, when they opened it, what they clicked, who they forwarded it to, and you can actually see that the three spikes in the graph are the mornings of Australia, here and the US.
Typical example of what the tools can provide: subscriber management, email templates, editing, personalization, sending, tracking.
Of the tools that are out there, here is a quick list. Toddle, which is our own service, will help you do the creative, the rest will help you do the sending, the managing. Expected costs: Vertical Response costs 10 dollars per month for about 500 subscribers. And that is subscription based whereas Campaign Monitor does per subscriber, so it is .01 cent per email you send it to.
There are web based applications or desktop based applications or groupmail which is another great service will charge a one off cost of 139 dollars
That is mostly it. Just manage, track and measure what you are sending out and make improvements each month.
If someone forwarded to a friend, why did they? If someone clicked on a link, why? How can you do more of that? Why do they unsubscribe and basically make next months email better.
I am over time so I am going to just flick through a few creative examples that I came across, I really like this particular design for an offer. It is an example of a competition with a clear call for action. A very clear offer and very few distractions and for a spa resort , nice how they made the design very effective for what they were offering.
That is it, Thank you very much. I put together a top ten list for you. You can download it from the website here. I suggest hanging it up and going it through every month. Thank you very much.