The travel, tourism and hospitality industry is one of the biggest and fastest-growing industries in the world with a  $7.6 trillion global economic contribution in 2016. The industry continues to expand due to millions of consumers from both emerging and developing markets seeking out new experiences and ways to explore the world. Modern travel consumers have changed the way they research, communicate and make buyer decisions. Travel marketers have been forced to adapt, and are finding new ways to reach and connect with these dynamic globetrotters. But where does that leave some of our more traditional methods of online communication like email marketing? Is email marketing dead? The quick answer is: no, it is simply changing.

Email @ sign
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Email Marketing is here to stay

Email marketing may seem like it is living in the shadow of social media and content marketing campaigns, but when done correctly, it could change the way you connect to your consumer. So why should we still care about email marketing? Because it is still very much relevant. There are over 105 billion emails sent every day and by 2019 we are looking at about 2.9 billion email users across the globe.  Can you remember the last time you went a week (or even a day) without checking your emails? We can’t. So, lets take a look at why email marketing should be part of your brand’s marketing strategy:

  • Low cost high return. Email marketing requires very little investment to get started, is relatively inexpensive to maintain and when done correctly can deliver up to $42 for every $1 spent.
  • Easy to use. With a variety of free HTML email templates and email marketing software available, it has never been easier to create tailored and well-designed emails.
  • Targeted and focused. Mailing lists can be segmented, scheduled and defined. Messages can therefore be specifically crafted for certain target markets.
  • It’s measurable. Advanced statistics that offer insight as to when, where, and to what extent consumers are engaging to content is now readily available.

It is clear that email marketing is a powerful tool that can easily add value to your brand. It is however important to note that email marketing is not what it was 10 years ago. It has has changed, and so has the way we use it.

consumer on her phone
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Travellers and their email habits

The modern travel consumers  is multidimensional, and is constantly seeking out personalised information from influencers, reviews, referrals and different social media platforms. We have discussed the value of mobile marketing strategies, innovative content marketing and how to use user-generated content to build trust. Now lets explore how email marketing can help you connect and deepen your relationship with your consumer.

Here is how modern travel consumers respond to email marketing:

  • 53% of emails are opened on mobile devices, 23% of these users will reopen that email on a different device again later
  • 51% join mail lists to get more information about existing packages and destinations.
  • 86%of respondents signup to email lists to learn about sales, promotions and special offers.
  • 48% of subscribers seek  coupons.
  • 69% want tailored content based on previous purchasing behaviour or activity on the website.
  • 48% claim that permission-based emails from travel brands have a direct influence on their offline purchases.
  • 46% subscribe to hear about new packages, routes and destinations. .

It is important to consider what kind of emails you want to send and who your persona is. Subject lines and campaign ideas need to be well thought out and personalised. As always content is key, especially if 73% of teens and 81% of millennials use “inbox triaging”, which means they ignore anything that even seems irrelevant without thinking twice. According to Adestra, 57% of younger consumers even have a seperate email address for unwanted mail which they never check. Make sure your brand offers valuable content and information or you might end up in the unwanted email section, or worse, in the spam folder.

Responding to emails on laptop
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Direct, Transactional & Automated Emails

With so many ways of communicating, and so many different terms that go along with it, it is important to define some of the key concepts. Let’s take a quick look at the difference between direct emails, transactional email and automated marketing.

Direct emails is a traditional marketing tactic that uses outreach campaigns, newsletters and advertisements to reach new and potential consumers. Transactional emails are responsive messages activated by customer action such as confirmations or alerts. According to The transactional email report, brands can enhance customer services and increase repeat sales by using transaction-related emails that are triggered by customers’ buying behaviour. Since the email is directly related to the consumers action (for example booking, purchasing, ordering etc), these emails get exceptionally high open and click rates and generate six time more revenue than normal campaigns or newsletters. Marketers can use this point of interaction as a opportunity to really connect with the engaged consumer. This is a great time to promote valuable content, cross-sell travel packages or related items and give a specific call to action.

Marketing automation platforms on the other hand, combines these two functions into a single tool that maps out customer actions and creates an automated process that marketers can use to increase engagement. Marketing automation systems and behavioural led programmes are becoming more popular and are slowly replacing static newsletters and general bulk emails. Instead marketers are using these advanced highly specific segmentation tools to create tailored and targeted campaigns that offer relevant information to the modern travel customer based on where he/she is in the customer buyer’s  journey.

 

Consumer checking emails on phone
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Converting users into loyal consumers

Despite the social media hype, good email marketing is still 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to customer acquisition. In the travelling industry 63% of consumers claimed to do business with travel brands after signing up to the email lists.

So how do we utilise this powerful business tool to convert potential prospects into loyal customers? Let’s start with the three key metrics: Open Rate, Response Rate & Conversation Rate. Open Rates and Response Rates refer to the percentage of emails being opened and responded to by prospects, while Conversion Rate is the percentage of responding prospects who subsequently buy or use your products. In order to covert consumers, it is important to create engaging and authentic content that adds value to their unique experiences. By guiding consumers through the 5 micro-moments of the Traveler’s Buyer Journey, once-off users can be converted into long-term loyal guest.

For example, travel brands may want to use email marketing campaigns to contribute to the ‘dreaming moments’ by offering enticing information, inspiration and destination suggestions. As the customer heads down the funnel, marketers can start assisting them with planning their itineraries, give advise on booking information and then eventually offer conversion incentives like promotions to seal the deal. Follow-up strategies may include asking for feedback, sharing experiences, loyalty or referral programs, community building or even creating campaigns that invite customers to generate their own content in return for future discounts. The possibilities are endless. Remember however to be specific, customise your messages, start a meaningful conversation with the right personas and always listen to what your customer has to say.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level?

The travel marketing industry is changing, and so is the way travel brands are communicating. It’s time to to take your marketing to the next level and create valuable content and strategies to connect to the ever-changing modern travel consumer. Visit our blog of more industry insight or contact us now to sign up for a free influence marketing consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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