For those that have read this column for years, this will come as no surprise. I am a huge fan of email marketing. I believe, that if done right, it can be the most effective weapon in your arsenal.
Email marketing is a great tool for customer acquisition and retention. However, many email newsletters get a bad rap because they’re often seen as spam, are sent too frequently or never reach the intended audience. All things that you need to think about. Consider this:
Customer intelligence. What is the purpose of creating an email newsletter? If you made the unilateral decision that your customers needed a newsletter, I might think again—or at least think some more.
Did you do your research? Reach out by phone to several of your customers and prospects to get their thoughts on your email newsletter. You may want to ask:
- Would you read an email newsletter?
- What content do you want to see?
- How often do you want this newsletter?
- Does text, video or audio matter in the newsletter?
- What amount of promotion would you like to see?
Gaining some insight will carry you a log way and insure that you are giving your clients and prospects what they want! Keeping in mind that you are not going to please everyone!
Great! Now, let’s assume your clients are all champing at the bit to get your newsletter. How to get started? But first, some more questions?
Where do you currently keep email addresses for your customers and prospects? When you obtained those email addresses, did you also get permission to email them? This is critical. My email list is not overly large (4500 names) and it has taken more than 15 years to build. But every mane on the list has given me permission to email them and I have documentation for all of them saying when and where that permission was given. Failure to get permission can result in a costly fine from the FCC as a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.
Next up? Determine which email marketing service you will use. Some of the popular email marketing services include Constant Contact, Drip, MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Emma, and Convertkit. Ask your colleagues to gain their thoughts on which email marketing service they use. For me, I use AWeber—partly because I am used to it, but back in the day they were the only ones to insist on the double-opt in subscription. Today, others offer it, but not as a mandate. Caution: if you collect names at a travel show, be sure that your prospects know you will be putting them on a mailing list. Many of the providers will have some type of email program to capture email addresses at events or in your agency.
- So, what’s in it for them? You will want to keep you email newsletter brief while adding value. Trust me, no one wants a list of the latest specials that XYZ Vendor just sent you on Monday. The key is to be informative and give the reader something to take action on.
- Make your customers feel like they are wanted. Keep them in the loop on news about your company. Did you just earn a new DS designation or complete a FAM or receive an award from the local Chamber of Commerce?
- Link to blog posts that are already on your website. Recycling is not only good for the environment; it can be good for business too. Look at your analytics to see the popular blog posts and use them!
- Promote exclusive deals for subscribers only. What better incentive to keep a reader?
- Discuss travel tips. The travel industry is always changing and you can always come up with some new tip. It does not need to be generic. Keeping warm in the Antarctic might be a good one—people will read it and who knows, maybe someone will want to go on a Linblad Expedition to Antarctica. It could happen!
- Do you have any forms or travel checklists that you use? Why not have a link to them and let your customers print them out at home and use them. This also works well for any document or maybe a scan of an article you just read.
The secret is to give your customers and prospects what they want. It is not about pushing the latest deal or pimping out the distressed inventory just to make that bonus commission. Remember, these are your clients. Not the suppliers. So make sure the content you are pushing is yours and what your clients want to read.