Increasing Direct Bookings with emails that work
Whilst sending emails is easy nowadays with software like Mailchimp, ConvertKit or AWeber (and so many of the other email marketing systems out there), it doesn’t mean they’ll actually work in increasing direct bookings.
Just because you’ve sent out a batch of emails, if people don’t open them then they won’t read what you have to say. And if they don’t read what you have to say, they’re very unlikely to book with you!
To help prevent this happening, here’s some top tips to making sure your emails create results and work for you in increasing direct bookings:
#1: Send interesting and relevant content
Just because sending email costs very little, if anything at all, it doesn’t mean you can get away with poor content.
In my experience, poor content is the number one reason people won’t read your emails, and actually it’s the biggest reason people unsubscribe.
People are used to seeing plenty of emails in their inboxes, so they rarely unsubscribe because of the volume of email you send them, they only unsubscribe when the content doesn’t interest them.
If it’s not relevant or useful to them or if you get too salesy, that’s when they stop opening and that’s when they unsubscribe. Spend some time learning how to write effective emails.
There is also a simple test that you can do each time you’re writing an email – ask yourself ‘Is what I’m sending relevant to the people I’m going to send it to?’. If the answer’s ‘yes’ then you’ll do just fine.
#2: Avoid the junk box
With so much spam flying around these days, most people have rigorous spam protection systems in place to junk email before it even gets into their inbox.
Spam filters generally score each email against some set criteria. To ensure your email doesn’t find its way into the spam box, test it first.
Most email marketing systems have built in ‘spam checkers’ which will tell you how your email scores. If yours hasn’t got one, then there are plenty of free spam checkers available. Just do a quick Google search.
#3: The power of personalisation
Using the recipient’s first name in the subject line of your email will increase open rates because it helps your email to stand out from the dozens of other emails in the same inbox.
Starting your email ‘Dear Julia’ or ‘Hi John’ instead of ‘Dear friend’ or ‘Dear Guest’ will increase your reading rates and your click-through rates too. Most email marketing system can do this for you – you don’t have to type each name in!
We all know the power of personalisation, but what I find is amazing is that so many B&B owners still send emails out without including any personalisation whatsoever, especially when it’s so easy to do.
#4: Consistency is key
It’s important that all of the communications that are sent out to your list retain the same look and feel and use similar language and tone. This helps your guest and prospective guests to feel comfortable and familiar with your brand and to build up trust.
Customise your templates, colours and font and include branding elements like logos and images that will help the recipient to recognise your B&B quickly.
#5: The subject line
When your email arrives in your guests or potential guest’s inbox, they’ll make a fairly instant decision about whether to ignore, delete or open your email.
After all, that’s what you do isn’t it?
Their course of action normally comes down to how interesting, enticing and compelling the subject line is. You’ve got to grab interest and force the recipient to open the email.
If your list is big enough (or your email is important enough) testing different subject lines on a small segment, before mailing to the whole of your list, is the easiest and quickest way to drive up open rates.
Try out different subject lines and compare the open rates for each one. Pick 30 people from your list and try out three different subject lines sending each one to a batch of 10 people. And then compare the open rates for each one. You’ll be amazed at what a big difference a small change in the subject line can make.
#6: Provide a plain text version
HTML emails, the ones that are all designed and wow looking, are great but sometimes they can be blocked by a recipient’s email system.
Plain text, although not as pleasing to the eye, is rarely blocked and therefore reaches the recipient. Most email marketing systems allow you to easily create a plain text version of any HTML email before you hit send. So check that out.
#7: Statistics and tracking
Most email marketing systems provide really good statistics so you can monitor the number of opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes for each email or campaign that you send.
There’s no excuse here. If you really want to increase direct bookings with email, then you need to be looking at the reports for each email you send and testing to see how you can drive up your open rates and click throughs.
Look at whether sending emails at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week get a better open response. Look at which subject lines have had a greater open rate.
Also, a little tip here, don’t be too quick to unsubscribe bounced email
addresses. There are loads of reasons why emails can bounce but wait until it’s happened 3 or 4 times before taking it off your list.
And if it’s a regular guest whose email is bouncing, then pick up the phone, say hello and just say that you’ve tried to send them an email but it’s bounced – check their email address hasn’t changed. It’s simple really.
#8: Targeting and segmentation.
People are more likely to respond to and act on emails that are relevant and targeted to them. A sure fire way to boost direct bookings is to start segmenting it using the information that you know.
By mentioning the things in the text of the email that are personal to the reader you’ll get a much greater level of engagement and that’s good for increasing bookings. So segment your list and make sure you send information that is relevant to the reader.
#9: Include a ‘Call To Action’
One thing I see time and time again missing from emails is a Call to Action. If you want to boost direct bookings, you need to make sure your emails spell out exactly what you want the recipient to do: make a reservation! You need to make links blindingly obvious using big bold letters and arrows and then repeat them throughout your message.
Don’t just put one link at the bottom of your message and expect everyone to scroll down and find it. And only include ONE message. ONE Call To Action.
Don’t do an email including several different promotions – a confused mind will switch off and won’t take action. In each email you send choose the one thing that you want the reader to do and stick to that. Just one thing.
#10: Actually send the email
The easiest and best way increasing direct bookings with emails is to actually send one!
Time and time again, I see people trying to perfect an email or e-newsletter and never actually getting around to sending it because it’s not ‘quite right’ or they need to work on it or it wasn’t good enough.
Remember, the poorly written, badly presented email that IS sent will always outperform the one you’ve never quite finished and never makes it to the outbox.
What I’m trying to say is don’t spend hours and hours trying to perfect your email. Good enough is good enough. Just get a nice email put together and get it sent!
Until next time, remember…
Keep sending regular emails to all your guests and prospects – it really will help to boost direct bookings, I promise you.