For anyone that had read my column for any length of time knows, I am a HUGE proponent of email marketing. I have often said that email is an invite into your neighbor’s living room. Other types tend to be more of a “swing by if you are in the neighborhood” offer. With email, you have a captive audience and they are reading your email because they are interested in what you have to say… or to sell. But are you engaging them?
First impressions are everything. It is crucial to make the best first impression you can. I can’t begin to count the times in my career when (for some reason or another) I dropped the ball on a first impression—maybe I didn’t call back in time or simply forgot. I hate when that happens, but it happens to the best of us!
But once you do make that positive first impression, you work hard to make sure customers and prospects walk away thinking positively about your brand.
Automated email marketing can help. And if set up properly, when one signs up for your newsletter, the software will handle the follow up.
But how about the first impression a customer has with your email?
Have you put any thought into the type of experience you’re giving your customers or supporters when they receive an email from you for the first time? You know, that welcome email.
The value of welcome emails cannot be overstated! Every time a customer opens an email from you, they are having an experience or interaction with you and your brand. Just like walking in your door—there are some expectations that need to be met for them to leave the interaction with a positive impression.
It’s easy to forget that each time a customer opens an email from your organization, they are actually having an experience that can impact the way they think of your business.
Now if you are not automating your email list—do it. All of the major vendors have the option for auto-responders—it may be called something different, but an automated process is a great way to take a casual “lookey-loo” and convert them into an advocate for your agency.
Here’s a sobering statistic. While your general emails will only be opened 15% to 25% of the time, your initial one will be opened 50% to 60% of the time.
So, what to do?
- Do not pitch them. There will be time for that later.
- Welcome them and thank them for signing up.
- Explain that they can always opt out at any time with no questions asked.
- Set the expectations. Let them know how often and when to expect emails from you.
- Show them an overview of your travel practice.
- Invite them to give you more information.
Those seem pretty straight forward right? Maybe…maybe not.
On the setting expectations, if you mail once a week/month/quarter, tell them that and stick to it. No one likes a mailbox full of junk that they were not expecting.
For the overview, be creative. This could be a video from you (most emails will not play videos, so it is a screen shot of the video linked to YouTube or Vimeo) welcoming them or maybe a link to a welcome page on your site highlighting all of the fantastic trips you have done for past clients along with testimonials. Do not sell product—sell yourself!
As we all know, gathering information is critical in the industry to provide the proper product for the client. Long gone are the days when you propped someone in a chair with a five-page survey to fill out while they waited to be seen. People will not offer that information any longer and you will need to extract it throughout the client lifespan. But, you can ask. I have had success with SurveyMonkey and an incentive. After all the other steps have been taken, invite them to take part in a short (yes it needs to be able to be done in under 3 minutes) survey about their travel preferences. In return, offer a monthly giveaway of a $100 gift card to a local (or national) restaurant. $1200 is a small price to pay. And on that survey, I’d go for names, family members, age ranges, past trips taken (key question), and a free form answer to the question “What does travel do for you?” Don’t interrogate… ask!
And here is a bonus tip! Create a series of auto-responders. In the first one explain that there may be several more, but use it to advance the education of your client about you and your agency. The first might welcome them, the second is about you, the third may be about satisfied clients, the fourth may be about incredible dream vacations you planned, the fifth may be about how you give back to your community. Believe me, the ones that have read them all will likely be fantastic clients for you. The added benefit of several auto-responders is that it keeps them engaged until you first regularly scheduled email comes out.
Are you doing automated direct email marketing? What are some of your tips?