Skip to main content

E-Commerce Email Marketing 101: Must-Have Emails for Airports

20 Sep 2018
Victoria Wallace

Each year in marketing brings new trends and technologies but one thing remains constant: Email is still the most effective form of marketing across sectors. Average ROI in the US is $38 for every $1 invested, whilst 18% of top performing companies achieve ROI greater than $70 per $1 (Barilliance). Compared with a return of $2 for every $1 spent on Google Adwords, email offers a phenomenal opportunity.

As airports embrace the digital age, connecting with passengers more than ever before, email forms the backbone of an effective marketing strategy.

The main reason email outperforms other marketing channels to such an extent is that it targets customers who have already expressed an interest the airport’s products. However, it’s not as simple as that. According to a recent survey by Campaign Monitor, 44% of marketers still list increasing engagement rates as their number one challenge.

It’s not enough to send value-led, relevant content to people who have engaged with your airport. It’s vital to get the sequencing right, to mail the right emails at the right time to the right person. Get this wrong and people will opt out of your mailing list and maybe even move their business to a competitor. Get it right and you will have lifelong customers and brand advocates.

The secret to engaging your audience effectively, thereby increasing conversions and revenue, lies not just in the content of your emails but in the order in which they’re sent and the triggers that prompt them.

Before we look at some ideas for marketing campaigns, let’s just remind ourselves of the important moments in the customer journey. These touchpoints, which occur during online flight booking, each represent an opportunity to connect, engage and build loyalty and sales.

The strategy stages of a customer booking journey:

  1. Active evaluation – every trip begins with research. The customer compares possible suppliers and pulls information about destinations, pricing and flight schedules from Internet searches
  2. Moment of purchase – the customer makes the decision to book
  3. Flight countdown – this is the period between the booking and the day of travel
  4. At the airport: the experience at the airport is merges online and real world using mobile as the bridge
  5. Return home – the customer is welcomed home, when they are still on a high from the recent trip, encouraging loyalty and repeat purchase
  6. Loyalty loop – the airport works to build a long-term relationship and encourage the customer to book again
  7. The customer journey also includes those travellers who decided to book elsewhere

The first stage of this journey, active evaluation, and the last stage, capturing customers who have booked through a competitor, form the most challenging part of email marketing; customer acquisition. It’s true that customer acquisition costs five times more than retention, but without it your business cannot grow effectively. Whilst only 40% of companies focus equally on acquisition and retention of customers, long-term strategy must include both.

11 Emails to Onboard New Users
These email types work for countless businesses. With a bit of personalisation and fine-tuning they will work for your airport too.

The email sequence falls into three key areas:

  • Welcome
  • Trigger
  • Retention

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to the order in which you should send these messages, but bear in mind the stages of the booking journey and organise emails as logically as possible to mirror that journey.

Emails fall into the following ‘types’ within the key objectives:


  1. Welcome
  2. Curation
  3. Engagement
  4. Referral

5. Discount/special offer
6. Cart abandonment
7. Order confirmation
8. Up-sell and cross-sell

9. Re-engagement
10. Survey
11. Customer appreciation


  1. Welcome to the mailing list!**
    The welcome email exists to thank visitors for joining your mailing list, let them know what to expect from your mailings and simplify your sales process. These emails drive three times more transaction and revenue per email than any other regular promotional mailing. You see how important first impressions can be?

Make your email content original without being irritating. Write in a friendly, informative tone. Design the email with simplicity in mind, making it easy for new subscribers to find products by preference and purchase in the fewest clicks possible. An integrated flight booking and e-marketing software like Rezcomm Engage comes with user-friendly, customisable email templates so you can send on-trend, attractive, easy to read emails.

2. Curation and choice
Curation allows the reader to choose what they see. A curated email will contain snapshots of different content, for example information about a new route or destination, a seasonal offer, a new airport concession or a luxury lounge upgrade. Each section offers an option to ‘read on’ or ‘find out more.’

This works well because people love to be in control of what they choose to read. It works for another reason too: If you work with a CRM software like Rezcomm Engage, curation allows you to segment email recipients based on interests. If one person on your mailing list clicks the link to read about a lounge upgrade, you can categorise that person as being a potential buyer of other luxury goods and services, and make sure they receive emails relevant to those interests. If someone clicks through to a new destination, you can follow up with a special offer on flights, hotels or hire-car booked directly through your website. Your prospect will appreciate the personalised content and is more likely to become a customer.

3. Engagement
The average office worker now receives 122 emails every day and worldwide, around 111.1 billion commercial emails are sent daily. Your airport needs to get visitors to engage with your emails if you want any sort of visibility in today’s cluttered inboxes.

One strategy to encourage engagement amongst e-commerce retailers is to offer free shipping. Shipping costs are a common reason for cart abandonment and by offering email recipients the chance to activate a free service, retailers can encourage engagement and build strong two-way customer relationships.

Free shipping might not be relevant to your airport, but you can offer other products and services that will smooth the customer journey. What sort of thing makes your customer feel valued: A free seat reservation, a free cup of coffee from one of your food and beverage partners, loyalty points? Find something that will encourage readers to engage with your campaigns

4. Refer a friend
A study by Ogilvy found that word of mouth is a key purchase influencer for 74% of consumers, making it one of the most effective lead generation strategies in marketing. As well as asking for referrals on your ‘thank you’ page, use email campaigns to encourage sharing. You can instruct your recipients what they need to do to refer a friend in a step-by-step guide and even offer incentives such as loyalty points or discount codes to anyone whose referral results in a new mailing list sign-up.

Trigger Emails
Trigger or transactional emails are messages that are triggered by a specific action taken by a recipient, such as visiting a destination or flight ticket booking page. These can be easily set up as automated message with the automated marketing plan in Rezcomm Engage. While this sort of email can apply to actions as simple as a password reset, in marketing their purpose is to guide the prospect towards converting. And they work. Research by Experian found that trigger emails have open and click through rates eight times higher than other types of marketing email, and generate up to six times more revenue.

5. Discounts and special offers
Discounts and special offers are popular with e-commerce businesses, and with customers. 72% of millennials (25-34-year-olds) are open to retargeting with discounts, and 54% of shoppers are likely to purchase products abandoned in their cart if the product is offered at a discounted price. Scarcity is another strong psychological trigger to purchase. However, be careful not to overuse discounts. If you cut the price every time there’s a relevant trigger, your profits will suffer. If you offer fewer discounts than your competitors, the prospect may abandon your airport and book elsewhere. The trick is to reserve these incentives for people who are already engaging, opening your emails and clicking through to content.

6. Cart abandonment
The percentage of e-commerce shoppers who abandon their purchase at checkout is anywhere between 50% and 80%, with 61% leaving a transaction due to an extra cost such as shipping fees. One of the best ways to re-engage the customer at the point of abandonment is to use an exit-intent pop up window.

However, it’s reassuring to note that cart abandonment emails are also the most effective type of email. The average revenue per cart abandonment email is $5.64, compared to only $0.02 for promotional emails, and $0.18 per welcome email.

Many companies address cart abandonment by offering a competitive shipping rate, a discounted price or another incentive to purchase such as scarcity. But you can also use these emails to ask for feedback. “What went wrong?” Reach out and learn why the customer didn’t complete the booking and use the feedback to improve the flow at checkout.

7. Order confirmation
Order confirmation is a useful way to engage customers, offering security and trust in the booking. It’s also a way to accrue extra revenue: According to Conversio, every order confirmation email earns $0.25 for the e-commerce retailer. That’s an extra $25 per 100 recipients with no effort required.

The order confirmation may just be a digital receipt, but it’s also a way of building visibility, reminding the customer that they made the right decision in booking with you, and encouraging engagement by offering discounts and loyalty rewards. This is a good time to engage the passenger in the lead up to a trip – the point between booking and arrival at the airport. You can use confirmation emails to ease the journey through the airport and to increase sales of ancillaries.

8. You might also like…
Up-selling is the technique of inviting a prospect to purchase a more expensive product to add value to their experience. Cross-selling also adds value and occurs when you recommend a related or complementary item.

Use segmentation and customer profiling to identify customers who will be interested in luxury products and services and include cross-selling of services such as airport parking in your email campaigns. People are more likely to book if they are aware of what you have to offer.

Customer Retention
These are emails that reconnect with the customer, reminding them that they’re important to you.

9. The Re-Engagement/Win-Back Email
Email marketing databases degrade over time. About 22.5% of the average list becomes defunct every year, whether through unsubscribing or disengagement.
If a customer or prospect has decided to book elsewhere, it’s always worth an email to remind them of what you can offer and to reaffirm their importance to your airport.

10. Surveys and feedback
Equally, it’s much more likely you’ll offer your customers what they want if you regularly ask them what that is. Audience surveys offer valuable insights into passenger goals, desires and problems. They also offer a chance to improve your email marketing campaigns. You can offer incentives to return the survey, such as entry into a prize draw, but be aware that if your survey is in return for a free gift, replies will be biased towards those recipients interested in that gift. Consider offering a discount to customers who return feedback.

11. Thank you to our customers
Showing appreciation to your customers stretches to more than a quick ‘thanks for subscribing,’ it’s about recognising their importance to the ongoing success of your airport. Every so often, write from the heart and really thank your customers for their contribution. This kind of personalised email message goes a long way towards building ongoing relationships with your customers. Everybody likes to feel appreciated.

If you would like to speak to Rezcomm about our integrated e-marketing solutions or if you would like help and advice on building your airport’s email marketing strategy, contact the team today.