One of the first things I do when I get up in the morning is check my email, and it is also the last thing I do before I go to bed. I have notifications set up on my cell phone and an alert goes off as soon as I receive one. I frequently will take a peek to check the subject. Much to my chagrin, it is often junk mail and I roll my eyes frantically trying to unsubscribe. I sometimes think of all of these unwanted emails as being similar to those pesky telemarketing calls that you just can’t seem to shake at home.
Some emails are definitely very helpful and I read them right away or, at the very least, file them away so I can read them later. Regardless of how I manage these emails, I find that I am inundated with them and often wish there was an easy way to filter them out. So why are we getting bombarded by so many emails? Everywhere we shop, every service we get someone is always asking us to provide our email information. Why? Simply put, it is a way of marketing – a way that businesses put consumers in touch with their products and services.
With the explosion of the Internet, marketing strategies have changed. Businesses must leverage technology to reach consumers. As easy and convenient as technology has brought information to our fingertips, the process can be a pretty daunting experience at times. There is a plethora of information for any type of search we conduct and there are tons of offers to consider. Years ago when I first started in the travel business, I felt that being excellent at designing romance travel and providing legendary service was enough to be a successful business owner. I have since realized that being successful also means being a savvy marketer. So how do I manage both?
Marketing starts when someone makes an inquiry on the web and at some point in the search process there is an exchange of information. It is incumbent on the business to give the information sought. In doing so, there is an unwritten promise of an even more exciting and in depth offer – this is called an “Irresistible Free Offer” in exchange for a name and email address. This allows the marketer to continue to share information with the consumer in the hope of converting them into paying customers. This is referred to as the “Know, Like, Trust” factor and is necessary because consumers purchase from people that they know, they like, and they trust. This is critical in travel.
Attracting, nurturing, and retaining customers must take a high priority on the list of all business owners if the business is going to thrive. To do that we must:
- Identify our ideal client and provide a compelling message to them about who we are, how we can solve their problem, and how we are different from others
- We must constantly attract new clients and provide a way for them to engage with us
- We must regularly provide a way to keep us at the top of their mind
- We must continue to deliver great content that will provide value to our potential clients so they can trust us enough to make purchases in the future
To do this we must create what is called a sales funnel so we can attract potential prospects and at some point move them along the process to an ultimate sale.
To create the ideal funnel (or at least one that works for me) I have developed a set of questions that I try to keep in mind as I plan my marketing efforts.
- How we are reaching them? What marketing activities are in place to increase the clients’ awareness of us and our band? What sets us apart from the competition?
- What method are we using to capture new leads? Do we have a Lead page/Squeeze page with opt-in offers on our website? What kind of irresistible free offers are in place to provide value to the clients that we want to attract? What call-to-action do we have within those offers?
- Email marketing is critical to massaging the leads in our pipeline with offers and valuable content. What does our email marketing campaign like? What is our conversion rate?
- Clients need to feel appreciated; rewarding them with memberships, loyalty programs, and promotions are all great tools to keep the level of client satisfaction high. Do we have that in place?
As you can probably tell by now, having a strategy and tactical plan in place for how we attract and nurture potential and current clients has been crucial for us. While marketing is ever-changing, this is the plan that is working for us. What’s your plan?
Judith White is the owner at White Sand Travel in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The full service agency specializes in destination weddings, honeymoon and romance travel planning for busy couples that want an incredible vacation experience without the stress of planning it. You can find Judith online at whitesandtravel.net