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How to sell more tours using emails: Analysing and refining your email campaigns

How to sell more tours using emails: Analysing and refining your email campaigns

  Written By Alex Hopson

  Jun 6, 2017

 Are your emails not getting the results they used to?

It’s important to keep your emails fresh and to look at what is catching your recipients’ attention, and what is being ignored. All good email systems will let you analyse each campaign so you can improve your conversion rate with each email.

What follows is a guide to understanding the stats from an email campaign, and how you can target specific groups and refine your emails based on past successes and failures.

This is the fourth part of this series, the previous parts are: Finding an audiencewriting great email content and choosing an email campaign type.

Step 4: Refining email campaigns

Email marketing is dynamic, as your email list grows and customer interests change you will need to adapt your strategy. By monitoring a few key metrics you'll be able to see which campaigns are getting you the best engagement and the best return on investment.

Analyse the effectiveness of each campaign so you get better results from future campaigns.

Which statistics you have will vary from email provider to email provider, but the following is a run down of the basic statistics you can expect to have and how to use them to improve your email campaigns.

Open rate

The open rate is the first metric you can use to measure engagement, it is simply the percentage of users known to have opened the email.

An open rate of 20-40% is generally considered to be healthy. If you're below this then you should look at improving the quality of your emails or the email list itself.

Bear in mind that the open rate is the minimum number of people who have opened the email, the number of people reading the email is likely to be higher. In this respect it's useful to compare from campaign to campaign to measure relative success but it is meaningless as an absolute value.

The reason for this is the open rate can only be measured when a recipient downloads the images for an email or clicks on a link. Therefore if a recipient reads the text content of an email but otherwise doesn't interact with the email it will not be considered as 'read'.

Click through rate

A more useful metric to measure engagement is the click through rate. The click through rate shows the proportion of people who have click on a link in the email. A click shows that your content sufficiently engaged someone enough that they clicked on a link to find out more. As with the open rate this will vary from company to company, but around 20-30% click through is a respectable success rate.

Pay close attention to which links are getting high click through rates and use similar links to repeat your success in future campaign.

If your email has a lot of different elements and a mix of content then it may not be immediately obvious what content it was that was performing well. To this end most email systems will let you see what the click through rates are on each link in an email.

For example if you've written about three tours, to Argentina, Antarctica and Costa Rica if you look at the email and see that Antarctica got five times as many clicks as the other two then you know it's getting people's interest. Using this knowledge you could write an email focussing on Antarctica.

The number of clicks on individual links will vary based on their prominence within the email itself. The higher up the email and the bigger the link the more likely it is to be clicked, so keep this in mind when you look at the popularity of individual links. Once you've run a few campaigns you should be able to pick out spikes in interest.

Individual user statistics

You may be able to view the stats on which users have looked at the email and how many times they've opened or clicked on it. If you've got thousands of people on your email list then it may not be practical to review this data, but if you have a smaller list and some time spare it can be useful.

Take a look at the activity for people who have clicked the most on links as they're likely to be the most interested. It's best to ignore the number of opens as it may just be the top email in their inbox and get 'opened' every time they check their emails.

If you look at the links they've clicked and you see a pattern, perhaps they keep checking out a specific tour or country, then why not drop them a quick email. A short, personal, email stating something like:

'I thought I'd suggest our tour to Antarctica, it's an incredible experience. I went on the tour myself last year and it was amazing. If you'd like to chat about any aspect of visiting Antarctica I'd be happy to, here's my email and phone number.'

Don't get too specific, you don't want to freak people out that you know they clicked on that tour 5 times last night, just keep it casual and talk about their topic of interest.

Tracking conversions

Email systems give you good statistics out of the box for interactions with your emails, they don't show you what happens once the user clicks on a link. To determine how successful your email campaigns are you need to be tracking conversions on your website from email links.

It's crucial to track how well email campaigns convert into sales.

You should also be able to integrate your emails with Google Analytics. By doing this you can track the campaigns against the conversion rate (number of sales/enquiries) on your site.

Using Google Analytics is a topic on it's own, but once you have it set up you can start by seeing which campaigns are the most effective by looking at the following:

How many sales (and their value) came from each email campaigns

How much time people spend on the site, or how many pages they look at.

What pages people look at after clicking the link in an email

Unsubscribe rate

The unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who unsubscribe from your email list. It's affected by a lot of factors and some level of unsubscribing is always to be expected, but it's also a good warning that something may be wrong.

An unsubscribe rate of around 2% is normal, unless you haven't sent an email out for a while in which case it may be a bit higher. Reasons for people to unsubscribe are that your emails are too frequent, not interesting enough, too salesy or perhaps their interests have just moved on.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is simply the number of emails that have been rejected, or bounced, by the server receiving them. There are many reasons for an email to bounce, the most common being that an email address no longer exists, or an out of office reply.

It's worth keeping an eye on the bounce rate, it's a good indicator of the quality of your email list. A rate of more than 3-4% suggests that your email list may contain a lot of dead email addresses. This may be a bit higher when you first send out emails to a new list of people, but good services will remove permanent and recurring bounces from your list so you don't waste money on them in the future.

Effective grouping and targeting of email campaigns

As with most marketing campaigns you'll have a better rate of success the more you can target specific groups with content relevant to them. If you have a great offer for a tour to Costa Rica then sending that to people who have said they're interested in Central America or wildlife will have a much better success rate than if it went to everyone.

Don't worry if you don't have carefully grouped data, as you start out your email list may be smaller, email campaigns to everyone on your list will still be effective. Grouping is a great way of improving your success once you have built up a good email list and have gained experience.

There are various ways to collect the interests of a person, if you're speaking to them you should know much of this. Otherwise when you have a competition just add a tick box for the most important interests you may want to target in the future. Many email services will allow users to update their preferences based on a list you provide.

The first thing you'll need to do is to decide what criteria will affect the sort of tours an email recipient will be interested in. Destination is going to be one of the first interests you should look to record. If you know which areas a person wants to visit and you can send them emails about that area chances are they'll be interested in your email and more likely to book.

Similarly the recipients interests; photography, wildlife, climbing, diving, beaches, etc will allow you to target each group with an email that's more likely to appeal to them. The criteria you choose to group your recipients buy will vary based on what type of tours you offer, other factors you may want consider could include age or budget.

Even if you do send out an email to everyone on your list, if you have groups of recipients you should then be able to look at the statistics per group. This will tell you if an email really appealed to (or was ignored by) one group. If there's a big discrepancy in engagement between groups it suggests you might want to target the groups individually next time.

How to test and refine email campaigns

It's possible to send out an email campaign with different versions, and then test how well these perform against each other. This is called A/B or split testing. With careful use you will be able to quickly hone in on what changes you can make to your email campaigns to really improve them.

The various email services will give you different options you can customise, by the two most important are the subject and the content of the email. The important thing to remember is not to vary too much at once, keep the changes simple so you can tell what influence a change made.

The subject of your email is the first thing a recipient will see, often this is the only factor deciding whether or not an email is opened. Try different approaches, more formal, less formal or something intriguing then sit back and see which one performs best.

By varying the content you can not only change the wording as you test out different tones of voice or lengths of content but you can also vary the layout of a page. Changing the headline tour or article will allow you to see which content people are more interested in far more accurately than if the content was static as content near the top always gets clicked on more.

What next?

The next article will explain the different ways you can send out email campaigns and will help you choose the best solution for you.

Short of time? Looking for some more help?

Email campaigns are a great way for tour operators to reach past and future clients. There’s no reason for you to miss out, many tour operators are happy running email campaigns themselves. But if you're short of time or would like it completely handled for you we can help.

We're also happy to look over your email marketing strategy and help you improve your click through and conversion rates.

If you would like help creating, improving email campaigns or finding ways to sell more tours then be sure to give us a call on 01722 346400.

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Article written by:

Alex Hopson

Alex's goal is to help the clients of The Travel Web Design Agency turn more browsers into buyers. This article is just a small portion of the knowledge and experience that helps our clients grow.

He's been creating websites since the nineties – before most people were even online! As a perpetual traveller he has first hand experience of what people are thinking when they're booking a tour. And as someone who has worked with the travel industry from his very first professional website he understands what tour operators need to suceed in today’s competitive market.

Are you looking to fill up your tours? If so, you need to call the experts.

If you are interested in a new website for your travel business, contact The Travel Web Design Agency.