Do you want get more customers to your website?
Email campaigns are an incredibly effective way of getting in touch with people and selling your tours. This series of articles will show you how you can start an email campaign, or improve your existing emails.
The first part of the series, published last week, explained how to build and enlarge a mailing list, this week we'll show how to write content that will draw in your customers and encourage them to visit your website and book a tour.
Step 2: Writing a great email
The hallmark of a great email campaign is that your recipients enjoy and are enriched by the content you have sent, this filters down as increased sales. As a tour operator your email list should contain people who love travelling. So it should be easy to write content that your recipients want to read.
It's unlikely your email will be the only email that a recipient has when they check their inbox. With this in mind it's crucial that the subject and the start of your content engage them so they don't reflexively hit delete.
Email newsletters are primarily about providing information, whether that is about a tour you're trying to promote or exciting news you're eager to tell people. So it's largely the text that will get people engaged with your content and encourage them to contact you or click through to your site.
Good copy-writing and genuinely useful information or offers are where you need to focus your efforts. You want to keep your emails relatively short and provide enough information for users to understand what you're writing about or to intrigue them about one of your tours.
If you have more to write then add it to your website and link through, this way those that are really interested will go to your site, and hopefully start browsing around once they're read what they came to see.
Well written copy tends to be concise as people have notoriously short attention spans on the Internet. It should be exciting, you're selling a tour to an exotic location – that's something you should be excited about and that enthusiasm should show through in your content.
People want to buy tours from a tour operator who is as passionate about the destination/activity as they are.
You can talk about mountains or tropical beaches, but a single image is still worth a thousand words. It's crucial to choose the right image for your company and your tours, and that the image you use is as awe inspiring as possible.
For example, a tour operator who promotes themselves as travelling off the beaten track should show pictures of a small group of travellers alone in the landscape or enjoying a meal with the locals. This shows the kind of experience they want and will help them picture themselves on the tour.
As well as choosing imagery that conveys what you do you need to ensure that the photo is of a high quality. Using greyed out, blurry or lower quality photos from a compact camera or iPhone will make your company look cheap. Equally be careful to avoid any photos that look too obviously like stock photos, this can make your tours look a it generic.
A great source of images is your previous tour clients, chances are there's at least one person on each trip who fancies themselves as a photographer. So give people a reason to share their photos with you, whether that's by offering a competition or just explaining that you'd be grateful for any photos you could use. Chances are you'll have plenty to choose from then.
One important factor to bear in mind is that email clients don't show pictures by default. This is because images can be used to track who has read an email. The only way a recipient will see your images is if they manually choose to show them each time or tell their email client to always show photos from you. [images]
With this in mind be sure to concentrate on your text above all else, images will only be seen by a fraction of your recipients. But for those recipients who do see your images they can be a very powerful selling tool so do ensure your images really inspire them.
With the limitations of images in mind it goes without saying that all important content should be within the text part of an email. If you place you text in images it won't be seen by most people, and you definitely shouldn't be one of those companies that place everything in one image so most users will see a blank email which will get quickly deleted.
Choose the right template
An email is in many ways an extension of your website, it's important that the branding matches and the design looks professional.
This isn't as easy as it sounds because there are so many email programs, and they all display emails slightly differently. Your best bet is to start with an example template and customise it, or get a professional to help you this way the email should look good for the vast majority of recipients.
One major distinction between clients is whether they are on mobile devices or not. If you notice the majority of you recipients are on mobile devices you'll want to double check you're using a very mobile friendly template and that it looks good on mobiles.
Choosing the timing of an email campaign
There is no right answer to how often you should send out an email newsletter. Some companies will do it weekly, others monthly or even less than that.
For tour companies I would suggest the sweet spot is to send out emails roughly every 2-4 weeks. This is enough time to find some genuinely interesting content and write it up properly, and enough time between emails that people won't think 'not again'.
You can use unsubscribe rates as a rough indicator of how tired people are getting of your emails if you send too many. But obviously other factors like content will affect this. Certainly you should keep an eye on unsubscribe rates when you start out and if you change frequency.
The actual content of your emails plays a significant factor in how often you should send them as well. People will be happy to receive interesting content weekly, but if all you ever do is send them sales emails or special offers they'll soon unsubscribe.
The time and day you send out emails is also a factor in how much people will engage with your emails. The only way to find the best time to send emails to your audience is to try out different times and track the open rates and engagement.
A good strategy for tour operators sending out email campaigns is to choose a time when people are likely not to be busy. This could be lunchtime or late Friday afternoon when people are sitting around at lunch. If you target families you may want to send them after evening meals have been served and the parents have a few moments to relax.
This is the second in a series of articles on how you can write emails that will pull in customers. The next article talks about the different types of email you can send, and when best to use them.
Short of time? Looking for some more help?
Sending emails is not a technical process, and many tour operators are happy to run email campaigns by themselves. But if you're short of time and would like it completely handled for you we can help.
We're also happy to review your email marketing strategy and can advise you how to improve your click through and conversion rates.
If you would like help creating or improving email campaigns then be sure to give us a call on 01722 346400.
The Travel Web Design Agency has years of experience helping our clients get the most out of the Internet. Whether you're looking to improve your website, or promote it online we can help.
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