Emails are the first contact, and often the last contact, guests have with their hotel. The impact is the same as what you want them to see when they enter your front door. But that impact won’t happen if your emails don’t get opened and your click-through rate isn’t where it should be. Here are 10 tips to keep your emails from getting lost in a crowded inbox.
Stay on brand
The first reservation confirmation message customers receive is often the first communication from the hotel to a guest, and it’s incredibly important in illustrating the brand. Everything needs to be truly representative of a hotel’s image, starting with the messaging, but also the header, logo, typefaces, and images. If guests aren’t drawn in by that initial email, they are much less likely to open the next one.
Get readers engaged from the start
Once a guest opens an email, you want them to be instantly engaged so they will want to read on and click through. To grab their attention from the start, place a special emphasis on the top section of the email — the hero image and the first part of the headline. Keep the design efficient, but captivating. Including a simple, on-brand, animated GIF as part of the main image can also work with certain campaigns.
Mobile is mandatory
With more than 50% of people using mobile phones to check their email, marketers must keep a “mobile first” design in mind. On mobile devices, you’re looking at a condensed email box, where the From Name could actually be more prominent than the subject line, which is easily cut off if it’s too long, and preheader text becomes more important than ever. In the email message itself, everything should be responsive, from the way columns stack to the size of the buttons. If readers have to pinch and zoom, or they have to swipe too much, they are a lot less likely to click.
Use short, powerful subject lines and preheader text
With the increasing importance of mobile design, subject lines need to be short, but powerful. We recommend 40 characters or less. Also catching on with our clients are subject line emojis. Once used mostly by boutique hotels catering to a younger audience, they’re now being used by luxury hotels and resorts as well. More than half of our clients are also utilizing preheader text in templates, which can be effectively used to as an extension of your subject line. For example, pair a catchy subject line such as “Summer is So Suite” with preheader text that teases the offer like “Suite Deals Up To 40% Off.”
Days and times affect open rates
One of the secrets to achieving great open rates is using smart send times for your emails. At Cendyn, we’ve done collective open rate analysis to determine the best times to send emails so our clients can make sure their messages catch their guests’ attention. We’ve determined that Tuesdays through Thursdays, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, are the peak times for sending emails to get the best open rates. Other times that perform well include later in the evenings, when we see those rates peak again weeknights from the 8 pm to 10 pm, or late in the day on Sundays.
Send targeted emails
The differences between open rates for general marketing campaigns versus targeted marketing campaigns is astounding. At Cendyn, we’ve compared the numbers to produce industry benchmarks. For general campaigns, our research shows open rates higher than 30% and click throughs of more than 15% are considered great, while poor open rates are less than 15% and clicks less than 5%. For targeted marketing campaigns, those number shoot up, with great email campaigns achieving more than 50% of opens and click throughs higher than 25%.
Create hyper targeted email lists
Cendyn gives clients the ability to slice and dice data in innovative ways, creating targeted email lists from any number of data points, including spending, frequency of stays, types of experiences, and much more. We can help clients narrowly target guests based on, for example, the experiences they’ve previously booked, or the type of rooms they prefer. Smart segmented lists have a much higher open rate and allow marketers to create specific messaging to entice guests to click through.
Time your window of opportunity
Depending on the hotel type, the pre arrival sequence can vary. A resort stay typically has a 90-day lead time, giving marketers ample opportunity to send at least two emails a month, providing 6 to 8 chances to upsell and market to guests. However, with an urban a metro property, there are less touchpoints, with less lead time, meaning that the very first email with reservation information should also recommend ancillary activities and upsell opportunities. Every reminder and recap needs to include targeted messaging to upsell.
Take personalization beyond greetings
With the volume of emails everyone gets these days, personalization is key, and 74% of marketers report higher customer engagement when they use targeted personalization, along with a 20% average increase in sales. The most basic level of personalization involves greeting by name in the body of an email, but that’s just the start. Subject lines that speak directly to a person by including their name can lead directly to more opens. Changing the From Name to include the name of an agent, for example “Amber from The Hoxton,” can also give emails a personal touch.
Leverage data to create more effective campaigns
One of the most powerful things that Cendyn does for clients is create dynamic content using guest profile data and reservation fields, in addition to a variety of data sources, like lifestyle appends, survey data, past preferences, and much more. We can pull from any data source that we integrate with in a hotel to personalize the content of an email, allowing you to speak clearly to the guests you are targeting. For annual promotions, we help clients break down their audiences based on past stays or campaign engagement to effectively use segmented deployment strategies that can lift revenue year over year.
At Cendyn, we know how to help our clients connect with their guests based on multiple data points, creating hyper targeted personalization and messaging to take email marketing to a whole other level. Contact us today for a free consultation!