April 8, 2019 · Stuart Butler

Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 109 – Hotel 101: Sending An Amazing Marketing Email

We’re kicking off an awesome new series in 2019 to introduce our audience, clients, and colleagues to the core best-practices in hotel marketing. The idea being if you have just been thrown in to the hotel marketing business, or you’re looking to brush up on what you should have already been doing, you’ll be able to listen to each episode in the Hotel 101 series to make your marketing rock.

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Stat Of The Week:
Airbnb just checked in its 500 millionth guest
This 101 series for email marketing will just hit on the basics of getting an effective send out the door to your audience.  We’ll be making making a few assumptions in that you already have an opt-in email strategy and have selected your send platform, know your audience and have an overall marketing strategy in place.

Step #1: Determine Your Goals

Every email should have a measurable goal.  Typically for a hotelier this means direct bookings, however it can also encompass guest relations, sharing information, or driving social engagement.  Regardless of your goal, you should understand what you are trying to accomplish and have a plan to measure if you succeed. For a typical monthly newsletter type send the goals may be a mix of driving bookings and maintaining awareness with your list.

  • Revenue KPIs: Bookings, Revenue, Calls
  • Engagement/Awareness KPIs: Opens, Clicks

Step #2: Decide Upon Or Create Your Content:

Building a sound email marketing strategy largely depends on your ability to send the right message to the right guests at the right time.  While it goes beyond the scope of our 101 series, we do recommend you have an annual email calendar to help you identify what you need to promote.  Though typically for a general newsletter-type send we would have the following:

  • Main offer/promotion: typically a money saving deal
  • Secondary offer/promotion: news, seasonal content, etc
  • Site main conversion points: items such as amenity feature, area, static “offers” area, etc
  • Other content that works great include:
    • Video promotions
    • Area or seasonal guide

Step #3: Build Your Email:

Now that your content outline is complete it’s time to start putting pen to paper, or in this case content into system.  We recommend developing a standard template that is in your email platform to allow you to quickly swap out images, headlines, copy, and links. In most platforms, be it MailChimp, ConstantContact, ExactTarget, or our preference of Fuel Mail, you will have a content editor that makes HTML knowledge unnecessary.  Regardless of your platform, here are a few tips to make your content easier to develop, but also better for your recipients:

  • Image size matters:
    • Typical email widths are 600-700px, your images should never be larger.
    • Inset images would typically be about half this size, however we recommend using larger images since it will typically span the width of a mobile device
  • People don’t read: get to the point with a catchy headline and brief, bulleted copy.
  • Subject lines rule: spend the time coming up with a great one
  • Personalization is amazing: if you have the opportunity to insert personalization, do it.  If you don’t start building your list attributes to be able to do so.
  • Keep in mind that many of your recipients may not be ready to take a vacation, so connecting with everyone is important with destination and travel news/content.
  • Everyone loves contests.  Give stuff away!

Step #4: Test Your Email Across Multiple Platforms

Testing is one of the single most important aspects of building and sending your message.

  • Microsoft Outlook is not your friend.  It’s more like family, you have to put up with it whether you like it or not.  Always test your send on the most common versions of Outlook.
  • Test your links and your tracking.  Each and EVERY link should be clicked from an actual proof of your email.
  • We have passed the mobile tipping point, look at your email on common mobile devices.
  • Run your email against spam checkers, it’s no good if you send a message and no one sees it.

Step #5: Check Your List:

Good for you, you’re past the hard parts of creating content, building the email and testing.  Now you want to ensure the message you are sending is going to go to the right people. This is also a perfect time to audit your systems to ensure emails from your site are getting into the list.

  • Confirm all the emails you have collected since your last send are in the list
  • Ensure all guest history emails from your PMS are added (depending on opt-in)
  • For a marketing/promotion send we recommend you suppress current upcoming reservations
  • If your message is geographic or interest based, segment the list as needed

Step #6: Send & Monitor:

So now you are ready to pull the trigger on your message, before doing so you’ll want to review and confirm the following:

  • Does your platform allow for testing? If so, at a minimum test your subject line. We have found that we typically see a 15-18% improvement in open rates by testing two subject lines to a portion of the list and then sending the winner to the remaining audience.
  • If you have a track record of past sends, is there a time/day that works best for your send?
  • Are you sure you checked your links, mobile view, and spam scores?
  • Lastly, monitor during your send to ensure everything goes according to plan.

Step #7: Review Analytics:

Congratulations! Your send is complete, but you’re not done just yet.  Now is the time to review the send and see what worked and what didn’t work so well.  We recommend giving the email about a week to collect as much data as possible (although 90% of activity will happen with in the 1st 24 hours) and then reviewing the campaign.  This should include:

  • Review of overall open rate as it compares to other sends
  • What articles/links were most effective
  • Bookings and revenue generated


In The Newsaroos:     

Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom.

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