Email Excellence: How Savvy Hotels Improve Their Click Through Rates

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If you’re looking to increase conversions, fill more rooms and grow your occupancy rates, email marketing is pound for pound one of the most effective digital marketing channels you can leverage. While it might lose out on column inches to flashier rivals such as Instagram and Snapchat, email marketing is a stalwart of effective consumer communications.

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The numbers are incredibly compelling and leave little room for doubt:
•  The Data and Marketing Association calculates that 66 percent of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message
•  Campaign Monitor research shows you’re 6 x times more likely to get a click through from an email than you are from a Tweet
•  Marketing Sherpa says that 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content via email than across a social media channel
•  Email marketing drives more conversions than any other channel including search and social, according to Monetate research
• Campaign Monitor reports that email marketing has a 3800% ROI
•  McKinsey confirms that the average order value from an email is at least three times higher than from social media
•  According to VentureBeat, email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing channel

In a nutshell these numbers show one thing – get email right and you should see more bookings, better occupancy rates and more revenue from your hotel.

So, how can you tap into all of these benefits and make sure that you’re extracting the maximum potential from your email marketing campaigns? The answer lies in improving your open and click through rates.

Whether you are sending a promotional offer, such as a free night with longer stays, looking to fill rooms last minute or have new features, packages or amenities to push, you are looking for subscribers to do just two things. Open your email message and then take an action in the form of a click through to your website or landing page.

Try the following tips to improve your email open rates and consequently, generate more clicks through to your site.

1. Segment your lists
There’s a lot of research which suggests that segmented lists perform much better when it comes to key metrics such as open rates. The email platform MailChimp reviewed more than 2000 users and 11,000 campaigns earlier this month to determine exactly how big of a difference segmentation can make. The results of its research are impressive with big advantages for those who take the time to segment subscribers:

• Open rates are 14.31% better on average for emails sent to segmented lists

• Clicks are 100.95% higher for segmented campaigns than for emails sent to non-segmented lists

• Unsubscribe rates are 9.3% lower

When it comes to getting higher opening rates, segmented your email campaigns is clearly the way to go. This makes sense because it means your emails can be more targeted to the recipient. Segmentation can take place in a number of ways and, you’ll want to test a few variations to really get the most out of your email. You may want to segment by user location for example, so you can send the most relevant offers, or by interest group, such as those with previous bookings for your hotel in Europe with a separate list for those booking a USA stay.

Studying your open rate data could yield an unengaged subscriber segment – those that don’t open or click through your emails or don’t do so regularly. That segment could be targeted with an unmissable offer to encourage them to be more active and actually make a reservation. Conversely, you might way to reward your most active subscribers with an exclusive offer.

2. A/B Testing
It’s common to carry out split testing for landing pages when conducting paid search activities but you can also apply A/B testing to your emails. Platforms like MailChimp will usually have an A/B test function built in. This will allow you to test several variations of key elements of the send on a small section of your overall subscriber lists. A popular option and an easy way to ensure more opens is to use A/B testing to test the email’s subject line. Input two or three variations and send each to a few subscribers. The next day, you can check back and see which subject line garnered the best open rate and click through rate. This more effective subject line can then be used for the main send.

You can also use A/B testing for other elements of the campaign, such as different images, content and offers. This is an easy way to experiment with a couple of approaches to pin down what engages subscribers the most. Once tested on a small segment of your subscribers, the winning combinations can be rolled out for the main send.

3. Trial Different Send Times
Not everyone checks their email every day and not everyone will check their messages at the same time. However, amid the wealth of data at your fingertips from previous sends will be the sweet spot – the ideal send time to maximise open rates. If you don’t have much previous data to work through, simply create a schedule whereby emails are sent at different times of the day until you can identify the optimum time to hit send.

4. Use Automation
Email automation can be used to trigger key sends when a subscriber completes a particular action. You could for example set up an email machine to send a pre-written series of three emails to a new customer after they make a first booking or, after someone signs up to be kept up to date with your hotel’s news. The series of emails would be sent automatically within a set timeframe (say every two days for six days for example) with a different offer or USP flagged up each time. This is an easy way to automate your list and lead nurturing process.

5. Personalize your sends
Data from HubSpot shows that emails that are personalized are 20% more likely to be opened. Personalization can take many forms but, even something as simple as using the recipient’s first name can make a difference. Link your email software to your CRM and you should be able to pull out the first names of all of your guests. This is a quick and easy way to improve your email marketing with little to no extra effort required.

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