Email marketing is an incredibly effective and accessible way of engaging customers and driving sales for any business. It has the strongest ROI of any marketing channel, returning $32 for every $1 invested. And it has an incredible reach, with half of the world’s population set to use email by 2022.
In fact, while most technology gets replaced over time, email has traversed the technical and digital revolution almost unscathed. It’s more popular than ever as a means of communication, with 124.5 billion business emails and around 111.1 billion consumer emails sent every day in 2018, and it constantly adapts to changes in technology and buying habits.
The first ever email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, a programmer working on MIT’s Arpanet project, the precursor of today’s Internet. In 1978, the inaugural email marketing campaign was launched to 400 recipients from Digital Equipment Corp. This pioneering marketing blast resulted in $13 million in sales, equivalent to about $78.8 million in today’s terms.
When the Internet went live in 1991, email was primarily used by universities and for corporate communications. It was out of reach for the general public. This all changed in 1996 when Hotmail launched the first free web-based email service. In one giant step, Hotmail opened up a direct line of communication to a potential 20 million American Internet users. Marketers knew a good thing when they saw it, and they jumped in, headfirst.
More than 20 years on from the birth of free, universal email access, email marketing is still evolving. In fact, it is stronger than ever and is being used alongside automation solutions and Big Data to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. In 2019/2020, it remains a powerful, affordable marketing tool across industries, requiring no specific technical skills or budget.
Since the advent of Big Data, marketers have been able to continually improve the quality of their email lists. Automation drives consistent, relevant, engaging campaigns that result in increased revenue without requiring hours of work or knowledge of code.
Email and the airport
However, while email has long been popular, and online retailers have devised creative strategies to engage their customers, it’s still the case that its true potential for many airports is going unrealised. Email marketing may be widespread in the travel industry, but unless it’s combined with the right tools, it will fall short of customer expectation, meaning fewer sales, lost customers and less revenue.
When your airport uses an omnichannel platform that combines CRM (customer relationship management), business intelligence and email marketing capabilities, it becomes possible to track customer behaviour, and to collect quality, relevant data that can be used to generate a significant return on investment. Advanced analytics, industry expertise and user-friendly tools make it easy to turn good campaigns into great ones.
So let’s take a look at some key ideas and technologies that can transform the messages your airport sends to its customers:
Top tips for first-class email marketing
1. Don’t keep them waiting
When you first acquire a new email address, whether it’s through a sign up during checkout, a Wi-Fi login in the terminal, or a mailing list subscription, use it as quickly as you can. The newer the data is, the more recent the customer’s interaction with your airport, and the sooner they receive an email from you, the more likely your campaign is to generate a response.
A sign-up is a great excuse to reward your customer, and a good opportunity for you to offer them something to kick-start their buying journey. If the recipient's response is positive you’ll spark a chain of interactions and conversions that make the customer feel valued, and this will drive sales.
If there's no interaction after these initial emails, don't worry. And don't pester with too many follow up campaigns. Email addresses that remain inactive can be contacted after a certain time period in a re-engagement campaign.
If the subscriber still doesn’t respond, they can be deleted from your database. Confirmed dormant users don’t do a list any favours, and eliminating them makes for cleaner, stronger data.
2. Send targeted messages
Targeting users is a technique that involves sending content that is relevant to individual customers. It’s a way of personalising campaigns to offer better value to the customer. For airports this might mean only distributing offers on family getaways to families, rather than sending a blanket email to your business and single travellers too. Perhaps information about a new luxury product or service is appropriate for travellers who like to book premium products, but wouldn’t interest someone who always buys the cheapest option.
If the data gathered by your CRM system is of sufficient quality, targeting is easy. Passengers can be segmented based on a wide range of variables, including age, marital status, whether they travel for business or leisure, what their hobbies and interests are, and even buying and browsing history.
3. Embrace cart abandonment
Travel had the highest cart abandonment rate across industries last year, with a massive 81.8% of carts abandoned during the second quarter of 2018. However, despite this gloomy figure, there’s really no need to despair when a customer leaves the checkout process uncompleted. There are many reasons why someone might abandon their basket, and emails can help to re-engage them.
For example, an email sent shortly after abandonment can allow a customer to pick up where they left off, so if the abandonment happened simply because someone rang the doorbell or the customer had to leave for an appointment, you can help them get back on track. If there's no response to the first email in your cart abandonment workflow, a second message can be sent a day later, with the same content to help the recipient resume their buying journey.
Customers who may have left their basket mid-purchase because they decided to shop around for a better deal can be tempted back with a discount or special offer. But be aware, many of the reasons for abandonment centre on unexpected costs at checkout or difficulty completing the purchase. Rezcomm’s integrated and intuitive customer interface offers clear visualisation of costs and a walk-through booking and payment process that really simplifies the customer journey.
4. Think outside the box
Email marketing provides plenty of scope for creativity. Devise campaigns with interactive and dynamic components, graphics and top quality content.
Since around 2017, interactive emails have been commonplace. These emails take features that a user might expect to interact with on a landing page, and bring that functionality to the inbox.
As we head into 2020, the balance towards mobile is shifting even further. This may be the first year that more emails are opened on a mobile device than on a desktop or laptop. Given that 71.2% of users will delete an email immediately if it doesn’t display correctly, a multi-device, responsive approach is the only way forward.
Originally, interactivity was designed to entertain the reader. Now, it’s more functional. It’s used to promote engagement, and to keep consumers focused on the email. Trending interactive email elements for 2020 include:
- Animated buttons
- Animated calls-to-action
- ‘Rollover’ effects that showcase product offerings
- Accordion features that make long-form emails more compact
- Interactive product and image carousels controlled by the user
- Polls, surveys and user-generated interactive content
5. Think ahead
Keep up with the latest trends and always try to anticipate major changes. From increased personalisation to developments in email template design, it’s vital to meet or exceed customer expectations.
While it's sometimes impossible to predict what the next big thing is going to be, a solution like Rezcomm is always improving, adapting and future-proofing in line with best practice across industries. This makes it possible to reach more passengers and make more sales. For example, Rezcomm’s new drag and drop email editor makes it easier than ever to create stunning, responsive emails that are brand-matched with your airport.
6. Big Data personalisation is here to stay
The basic equation for successful email marketing is communicating the right message to the right person at the right time. In many cases, personalisation drives much of the content. In the last decade, the advent of Big Data has led to brands focusing on the integration of data across channels, translating information into actionable signals for email marketers. Ecommerce CRM software like Rezcomm allows marketers to analyse and segment customer data, storing unprecedented amounts of information in one place in order to develop holistic customer profiles. Sophisticated personalisation is no longer an option: It’s essential.
7. HTML5 Video in email
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have long been exploiting the shareable, engaging medium of video. And video in email is fun. It appeals to subscribers and communicates your airport’s message and brand in a clear, attractive way. Video continues to have huge success across all social platforms, and since October 2016 when Apple embedded HTML video support in its iOS 10, it has also been a catalyst in making email marketers and users more receptive to other forms of interactivity.
8. Automated and triggered emails
The last decade has seen major advancements in email automation, and the next decade could change the use of the channel for good.
Brands that use triggered messages already generate a large proportion of email marketing revenue from these communications. Automated emails generally offer a very high ROI, due to factors such as business intelligence making for a more streamlined system. For instance, companies that send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle than those that don’t.
As we move into 2020, email is becoming further integrated into the full marketing stack. Cloud based CRM services have so much access to data and analytics that automation is now ruled by cross-channel optimisation and machine learning. The automation of customer lifecycle and workflows will only increase.
Smarter automated segmentation will continue to lead to increased performance, customisation and accessibility. Automated marketing reports will further increase ROI in an already profitable channel. This can only mean a better digital experience for customers and airports alike.
9. Stay safe
2016 was the year that really flagged up the importance of encryption as Yahoo revealed that 1 billion of its user accounts had been hacked. As emails become more personalised, containing information powered by many channels and Internet of Things devices, the demand for security to ensure privacy and online safety will only grow.
Remember that email and data security is a priority for your airport’s customers, and that any breach will impact on brand trust and may land you a hefty fine for breaking data law.
Rezcomm partners with airports that serve a quarter of a billion passengers worldwide. If you want to know more about how our integrated ominchannel solutions can help support your email marketing campaigns and customer relationships, contact us for a chat today.
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