It can take time, effort and cold hard cash to persuade people to subscribe to your email list. So as those addresses gradually accumulate, each one representing a direct line to your potential customers, the idea of drip feeding promotional messages straight to their inboxes to help drive leads and sales can be very tempting indeed.
So tempting in fact, that this is exactly what everyone else has been doing for years, forcing up the filters (both technical and psychological) against ‘sales-y’ emails. It’s no longer just spam that’s getting filtered out – anything that’s overly promotional or even vaguely irrelevant will at best be ignored, and at worst be met with the ‘junk’ button and a swift unsubscribe.
That’s not to say that offers and promotions shouldn’t be sent to your email list, just that they’d better be damn compelling if you want them to gain any traction.
But aside from margin-busting promotions, that email list you’ve been diligently building year after year could still be one of your greatest marketing assets – if you adapt with the times and send out what your audiences want to read as opposed to what you want to send them.
I’ve written before about converting the plain-old ‘company email’ into a ‘lifestyle magazine’ that truly engages your audience. Forget about cramming all your company news and 5% discounts into a monthly newsletter that no-one will read. Instead curate a magazine of top-notch content from around the web, the news, stories, features and tidbits that speak specifically to your own audience.
It doesn’t even have to be exclusively travel content. Think about your markets; family travellers, premium/luxury, honeymoons and couples, backpackers and gap-years… no-one knows your audience better than you. Think about what they actually want to read, find it, and send it to them.
“Woh woh,” you’re saying. “Why should I go to the effort of emailing MY list with links to other sites? How is that going to bring me any sales?” Here’s why: because they don’t expect it. What they expect is sales and offers and your latest blog articles about new hotel openings. And instead what you send them should blow their socks off.
If you’re one of the thousands of travel brands sending out promo company-newsletter-style emails here’s a quick experiment I want you to do. Go on, I’ll wait. Log into your Google Analytics account, click through to your traffic sources and check how many conversions your email sent in the last few months.
Oh hey you’re back. Now you see my point?
Now imagine if yours was the one email they read all the way through every single month, the one they actually look forward to receiving. It doesn’t matter if it’s not filled with links to your site – when they are ready to make their next travel purchase there’s a much higher chance they’ll come straight to you.
And the clincher: it’s not even hard to do.
Set up a magazine style email template: With a system like Mailchimp (our preferred platform but others are similar) it’s as easy as dragging and dropping text and image boxes into place. You can code your own (or ask us to help) but you don’t need to:
Start identifying good content: Check in on Outbounding.org from time to time and see what people are sharing and discussing. Use Twitter to follow the publications and writers your audiences are interested in and see who’s sharing what.
Tweet + save: Tweet the content you like whenever you find it and use this IFTTT recipe to automatically save the links to a Google doc:
Now it’s just a case of pulling the best of your Tweeted links into your newsletter every month and sending it out to a happy audience.
Bonus tip, tap the echo chamber: Whenever you Tweet a link be sure to include the author & publisher handle to earn a few retweets. You can do the same each newsletter: Tweet the link and mention the authors included for a second bout of re-sharing and maybe a few extra subscribers.
If you’re still not sure, check out lesson #1 of our Content Marketing Workshop. We worked through this exact same process with a real life client and the results speak for themselves.