When it comes to seasonal online sales, the Travel market adheres to fairly predictable trends with the same peak times each year. This pattern is important, because it allows you to plan your airport’s email marketing strategy to make sure you send the right messages to the right people at the right time. Understanding when customers are likely to purchase and which messages are likely to resonate with them is one of the most reliable ways to gain traction and improve sales.
It’s also important to know how customers are researching and buying their travel products. According to Statista, online travel sales worldwide increased from $470.97 billion U.S. to $693.91 billion between 2014 and 2018, with a projected revenue of $755.94 billion in 2019. Travel websites and mobile apps have been making digital travel booking increasingly easy and today’s traveller expects to be able to independently plan and book using digital tools including travel planning websites, review portals and price comparison sites. Even Google has stepped into the frame with the launch of its Google Flights product.
Meanwhile email is still the most effective form of marketing communication in terms of ROI, and online sales increasingly mean mobile. Mobile travel purchases in the US are expected to reach almost $95 billion in 2019.
All this gives more than adequate motivation to plan and implement seasonal ecommerce email campaigns, but how do you go about designing your message and making sure it reaches the right people?
Email is a great way to engage with the ongoing consumer cycle, join existing conversations and brighten up the customer’s inbox with a targeted seasonal offer or some unique and relevant content. These 8 points form the cornerstone of a strong campaign…
1. Share topical, relevant content
Your email copy should be engaging and seasonal. Use storytelling to bring in the seasonal theme. Even if the angle seems too obvious or clichéd, you can connect with people by using questions such as, ‘Planning your summer getaway? Check out our must-have holiday essentials! Or, “Looking for that perfect romantic city break?”
Rhetorical questions like these turn the focus on the customer and trigger them to think about their plans and preferences. Your email should offer value – you want it to come across as helpful – supporting people in making decisions and booking their trip.
Content needs to be compact, interesting and full of information. While the average customer attention span has actually increased, the average time spent reading an email is still just 11.1 seconds!
2. Make the most of the seasonal theme
If your email campaign is designed around promoting a particular travel or holiday season it pays to make it really clear which holiday you’re celebrating.
One way to do this is with the design of the email. For example, an email sharing ideas for Valentine’s Day travel can reflect the holiday in colour scheme and with romantic images and artwork. Use seasonally relevant photos – either schedule some photo shoots so you always have material available or invest in high quality stock images and designs. Ensure all of your images have direct clickable links to the relevant landing page on your website and pull in elements of social media to encourage a sense of community.
Remember, for a seasonal email design to really make sense it needs to be consistent. Maintain your theme across the email, including the subject line, copy and call to action. An integrated CRM and email marketing software like Rezcomm Engage makes it possible to customise your emails with a design and language that perfectly matches your brand, your seasonal goals and your customer demographic.
And don’t forget to optimise your emails for all devices. As travel sales on mobile continue to grow, it’s important that customers can follow a train of thought on a single device if they want to. Rezcomm Engage’s responsive email editor is fully optimised for mobile.
3. Use emails to offer specific seasonal discounts
Travel companies traditionally see a spike in sales in January and July but there are other seasonal opportunities to promote travel. Christmas markets, Valentine’s Day or travel focused around a specific event such as a big sporting tournament are each relevant to someone in your mailing list.
It pays to spend plenty of time planning for each seasonal campaign. Prepare a series of offers and emails that will go out in the run up to each main date. Build up excitement around your products and destinations by sending subscribers flash sales, discounts and personalised voucher codes.
It also pays to check out what your competitors are offering, and implement a seasonal referral offer, encouraging people to share your promotions with friends, family and colleagues.
A ‘countdown’ series of emails is a good way to encourage customer spend and boost engagement. With Rezcomm Engage you can easily set this up to send completely automatically using workflows that engage every subscriber with personalised content based on their interests and buying behaviour. Remember it can be more cost effective to retarget and remarket to existing customers than to engage new sales. Don’t ignore the importance of customer acquisition, but use the segmentation features in your CRM software to really personalise communications and make sure that people who already booked with you feel special.
4. Get the timing right
Timing is everything. It’s one of the much-quoted basics of email marketing to send the right message to the right person at the right time. Consider timings from a logistical point of view – when do you want people to book? But also think about customer buying behaviour. When will people be most likely to open, click through and engage with your messages?
Because Rezcomm partners with airports worldwide, the team has insights into the buying behaviours of quarter of a billion passengers. This means they can advise your airport about the best time to send emails for your location.
However, when you’re scheduling a whole email sequence, you may want to avoid always sending campaigns at the same time of day. This could make your campaign seem too automated and mean you never connect with certain customers who don’t fit the normal pattern of email engagement. It’s advisable to continually test sending at different times of the day to maximise email reach.
5. Use customer segmentation
Customer segmentation is key. And with technology like Rezcomm Engage, it’s simple too. By segmenting your customer lists according to shared attributes, behaviours or purchase history, communications can be sent to targeted groups of people. These groups could include loyal customers, women, men, couples, specific age groups, people who always buy luxury or business-type products and services, car owners, last-minute bookers, those who browse city breaks, people who book all-inclusive family holidays, the list is almost endless. This type of targeting is not as cynical as it sounds. Yes, it is a proven marketing strategy that leads to higher click-through rates and more conversions, but at the same time it offers real value to customers. The products and offers that arrive in your customer’s inbox are relevant and useful to each customer.
6. Don’t ignore the weather
The weather can have an impact on travel plans both at home and at the intended destination. For example, a projected lack of snow in an otherwise popular ski resort will obviously impact on the popularity of that destination. Be sensitive to current news and events and plan alternative campaigns.
7. Capture the imagination
The average office worker receives a staggering 90 emails per day, so any message you send will really need to make them excited and happy or they won’t even open it. Harness the power of scarcity (FOMO) with headings like, “Last chance to book” and, “don’t miss your chance to ace Valentine’s Day” to encourage sales. Include images of other happy customers. Consumer generated content such as holiday pictures and reviews really help inform people’s buying decisions and trigger a feeling of “I want that for myself.” Appeal to people’s curiosity but make sure to offer valuable, relevant content. If you send emails that seem like ‘click bait’ you will turn people off altogether.
8. Write a brilliant subject heading
Last but not least, did you know that 47% of people open an email based on the subject line? If your heading doesn’t inspire people, they won’t read your message. Make the heading snappy, relevant to the season and interesting. Don’t worry if it seems overly descriptive, if it’s describing something the customer wants, they will be interested.
If you would like to know more about how Rezcomm can help you get to know your customers, or for advice on your emarketing strategy for 2019, contact the team today.
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