Email Marketing: Tactics to Beat Email Fatigue and Increase Engagement

Frida Kops   ● 11 min read
This article forms part of a weekly newsletter series that’s sent directly to travel industry professionals every month.
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I thought it’ll make a nice change to take a break from C-Word related news and focus on a practical topic that everyone at 10x Tourism loves, lives, and breathes – email marketing.

Let’s get started.

Here's this week's roundup:

Email Marketing vs. Social Media: Is There a Clear Winner?

Source: Optinmonster

Can you guess which channel produces the best ROI? 

According to this article, email is clearly the winner. 

In fact, email is the winner in terms of its number of users, click-through rates, engagement rates, conversion rate and to top it off, customers prefer to receive promotional marketing campaigns via email rather than social media.

Interestingly, 58% of users check their emails first thing in the morning before they’ve even gotten out of bed. Compare this to only 14% of users who reach for their social media apps. 

Travel companies could use this insight when considering the best time to send emails. Scheduling campaigns for that sweet spot between 6 am – 8 am could increase the chances of landing your email at the top of your customer’s inbox. It’s worth testing the theory out. 

Although email marketing is a clear winner, it’s important to be aware that email and social media marketing shouldn’t be treated as replacements for each other. This article provides some eye-opening statistics in favour of email, but ultimately, the best marketing strategies should combine social and email together. The infographic below details how travel companies can do this.

Why It's Time to Champion Community-Based Tourism

Source: TGG Media

Community-based tourism is “tourism by and with the community, for the community’s benefit.” This article explores how this approach can help a country’s recovery whilst at the same time, offering travellers an enriching way to travel.

“Many travellers want to immerse themselves in local communities to form a deep connection with local people, but it is important to do this in the right way and ensure the communities are directly benefiting,” says Heather Magnussen, responsible travel and sustainability manager for Audley Travel.

Audley Travel advises that any travel company thinking of offering community-based tours ought to start with a responsible tourism policy to ensure the proceeds from their tours are fed back to local community projects. 

Another tour operator, Rainbow Tours, explains that the types of safari experiences that they offer have been carefully created to “offer the chance to understand the communities in a way that is neither exploitative nor staged”. This is because, in Africa, tourists and tourism income are vital in “maintaining the very fine balance of human-wildlife conflict”, according to Candice Buchan of Rainbow Tours.

If you’re interested in further examples of how a community-based tour could take form, then this article highlights some of the best travel companies in this sector. 

From a consumer perspective, it also reinforces an article I covered a couple of months ago on the growing shift in consumer sentiment that you might find a useful addition to your research in this area.

How to Create a Brand Advocate Army

According to a HubSpot study, 75% of consumers don’t consider ads as true. Yet, 90% believe in recommendations from friends, and 70% trust consumer opinions. These results point to the fact that customer and employee advocacy are a travel company’s most powerful marketing tactics. 

This article details how you can create more of these highly satisfied customers who post pictures of your tours on social media and take the time to write a review on your Facebook Business page.

Offer Incentives

79% of consumers have cited that receiving a discount is the primary reason for liking a brand’s Facebook page. Therefore, incentivising social media engagement with a discount for leaving a review about their travel experience is an effective way to build up your social profile, generate reviews and encourage repeat business.

A similar tactic that some small businesses have adopted is running a competition for posting a review in exchange for an entry into winning a reward or promotional offer. 

Champion a Referral Scheme

If every customer brought to your business one additional lead or booking, can you imagine what the impact would be on your travel business?

The key to a successful referral scheme is making the incentive proportionate to the value of your offering. 

Educate with Customer-Centric Knowledge

Planning your content around topics that your customers are interested in or answering their pain points or questions will increase the chances of your content being shared with friends and family. For example, a tour operator that offers bicycle trips would benefit from creating content on how to plan a multi-destination cycling holiday. 

As a general rule, always asking yourself if the content you’re creating is something your customers would want to share with their friends, family, or colleagues.

Contribute to The Community

Travellers are seeking tour operators and travel agents whose values match their own. Therefore, becoming involved in community affairs, the environment, social awareness, or sustainability shows another side to your brand. There’s no pressure to be active in all these areas but choosing one that you are most passionate about will naturally come across as authentic and personable to your target audience.

Don’t Forget to Say Thank You

Always remember to thank those who take the time to refer your company to a friend, share their travel experience with others on social media or write a positive review. This is because the most effective way to encourage real brand advocates is to let those who already happily talk about your travel company know that their actions are appreciated.

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How Marketers Are Optimizing Their Email Marketing, According to Research

The top two most difficult challenges of email marketing are:

  1. Reducing the number of campaigns that end up in SPAM folders; and
  2. Keeping your contacts engaged with valuable content that’s relevant to them. 

These two challenges become increasingly hard to overcome when audiences are flooded with emails every day.

Here are 3 ways to boost conversion rates by optimizing your email program:

Focus on Nailing the Fundamentals First

Prior to launching an email campaign, taking the time to optimize email is vital. This is because if emails aren’t even reaching your contacts’ inbox, then the best email copy and call-to-actions will be wasted.  

Aside from testing deliverability and your SPAM score, the design of your email template is a crucial element to the litmus test. Ensure the design is mobile responsive, font size easy to read, and your CTA buttons big and bold. 

Improve the Health of Your Database

What is the health of your database? Focusing on the quality of the data you hold for your customers and leads will enable you to create campaigns that are more targeted in terms of segmentation. It also allows you to become even more personalised beyond the basics of “first name”.

How to Deal with Unengaged Leads

Cleaning up your email database to remove contacts who are unengaged will improve your deliverability. It’s worth remembering that the goal is not the size of your database but the level of engagement you receive. 

It’s best practice to clean your email list approximately every 6 months. 

So if your email campaigns receive low engagement even though your email copy and call-to-actions are spot on, try implementing the above tactics.  

How to Overcome Email Marketing Fatigue

Two-thirds of Americans in 2017 reported feeling “overwhelmed” by the number of emails they received every day so you can only imagine the number this has increased to in 2021. 

Email fatigue is at an all-time high because lockdown has forced brands and travel companies alike to rely on email marketing as a primary channel to reach their audience.

In order for travel businesses to overcome email fatigue, this article provides some ways to give your email marketing strategy a boost.

Send a Welcome Email

According to a 2019 study, a welcome email has the ability to generate 320% more revenue than a typical promotional email. Creating an educational welcome journey is also one of the fundamental elements that we teach on the Tour Operator Accelerator™ program. 

Interested to learn more about educational email journeys? Read this to-the-point article written by our CEO and CO-Founder, Max Hardy, Travel Companies: Here’s How to Use Your Email List to Promote More Than Just Holidays.

Take Advantage of Marketing Personalization

Personalising your campaigns can double your open rate and click rate compared to non-segmented campaigns. Including your contact’s first name is an obvious place to start, however, including tour type or group size will increase these conversions even more. 

 

Treat Emails Like Any Other Content Campaign

A question and answer format work very well in email because you’re addressing a customer query or pain point. Peak curiosity by using the email subject line to ask the question and then answer it in the body of your email. 

 

Create Meaningful and Relevant Email Triggers

For example, segmenting your email database based on interests enables you to provide hyper-targeted monthly promotional emails.

 

Show Empathy and Authenticity 

It’s important to bear in mind that not everyone will feel comfortable traveling as soon as their country permits it. Adapting your messaging is key. 

 

Check The Performance of Your Landing Page

This includes checking the load speed of your landing page as well as checking for any broken links in your email campaigns. Sending a test email is advisable to avoid these situations. 

Don’t Forget to Monitor Your Stats

Monitor which campaigns drove the most click-throughs and conversions. Analyse which subject lines resulted in the highest open rates and don’t forget the time of delivery has an effect on this too.

How to Target Tourists Through Paid Ads

Source: Neil Patel

We already know that it takes more than a montage of inspirational travel photos in an advert to win over your customers, which is why Neil Patel provides a variety of ideas to target your audience and stand out against your competitors. 

At 10x Tourism, we teach our travel partners to anticipate their audience’s questions and use this to formulate the basis of their ad and lead magnet (more on this below). 

Use Geographic Targeting

Geographic targeting is where you target your ads to specific locations where you know an audience similar to yours may be situated. For example, targeting other tour operators in your country will widen your net to capture the attention of tourists interested in that area.

Target Certain Interests

By focusing on consumer interests as opposed to location, you’ll be able to deliver ads to those who have shown an interest in experiences or services that are similar to your own travel offering. 

For example, if you own a safari travel company, then it would make sense to serve ads to people who are interested in wildlife, wildlife photography, and adventure holidays.

Traverse City Tourism created a Facebook ad that targeted Facebook users who visited pages about cherry blossoms in order to promote their own city’s cherry blossoms. In addition to this, they created a lookalike audience. 

Anticipate Their Questions

The best way to capture your audience’s attention is to use a lead magnet that answers their questions.  

At 10x Tourism we’re advocates of creating ads that promote an educational email course. For example, “how to plan your dream tour on the island of Sicily.” For more information on this area, read our blog article Selling Luxury Tours by Email: Is Drip the Answer?

Use Images and Video

This may seem obvious, but a common mistake many travel companies make is selecting videos and images that are not contextually clear to the user. For example, a photo of a waterfall does not naturally translate to the kayak trip you may be promoting. The more obvious, the better.

In the below Facebook ad, you’ll notice that Travel Alberta has chosen a 360-degree video. It created an immersive and interactive experience for the user and was so successful the ad resulted in 130,000 views, 600 shares, and 300 comments.

Anticipate Their Questions

The best way to capture your audience’s attention is to use a lead magnet that answers their questions.  

At 10x Tourism we’re advocates of creating ads that promote an educational email course. For example, “how to plan your dream tour on the island of Sicily.” For more information on this area, read our blog article Selling Luxury Tours by Email: Is Drip the Answer?

Use Images and Video

This may seem obvious, but a common mistake many travel companies make is selecting videos and images that are not contextually clear to the user. For example, a photo of a waterfall does not naturally translate to the kayak trip you may be promoting. The more obvious, the better.

In the below Facebook ad, you’ll notice that Travel Alberta has chosen a 360-degree video. It created an immersive and interactive experience for the user and was so successful the ad resulted in 130,000 views, 600 shares, and 300 comments.

Research Your Past Guests to Target a Specific Audience

Do you understand who your past customers are? Why did they choose your travel company over your competitors? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you secure more leads and customers like them in the future.

For example, if a large majority of customers come from neighbouring countries, then localising your marketing campaigns could be a good strategy. 

Taking the time to research who your past customers are will help you develop a bigger picture of what a lookalike guest might be and allow you to become hyper-targeted in your ads. 

Use Retargeting Ads

Often travel companies struggle to retain customers because they lose out on educating their past customers on the full range of tours and experiences they offer. This was actually the case for 10x Tourism partner, Barcelona Guide Bureau, who came to us seeking help in broadening their audience and product. 

Retargeting ads are a great solution because it allows you to target those who have shown an interest in your travel business. Therefore you might be able to seize opportunities to sell multiple products to the same client which will hugely increase average order value and ROI. 

Take Advantage of Free User-Generated Content

Utilising user-generated content is a great way to take advantage of travellers who love to post videos, photos, and other content of their travel experiences.

This could take the form of simply reposting content that travellers tag your business in. However, if you have a marketing budget then you could take it a step further by offering incentives, such as discounts to those past customers who post about your tours. 

You can also showcase user-generated content on your travel website as a tactic to show potential travellers what the trips you offer could look like.

Regional tourist board, Visit Duluth, used this tactic in their Summer Guide to Duluth campaign.

Direct Traffic From Ads to Landing Pages

By being creative with their use of landing pages, Visit Indy were able to increase click-through rates by 300%. They did this by using adverts to drive users to persona-specific landing pages. Any user who clicked on their “foodie” persona advert, for example, was taken to a landing page displaying “Things Every Foodie Should Do in Indy.” This demonstrates a highly effective way of customizing your user journey. 

Consider Other Search Engines

It’s easy to get stuck relying on Facebook and Google ads but there are other search engines that offer great exposure when it comes to travel, especially Bing. 

Advantages of running a Bing ad campaign

  • Usually cheaper than Google ads
  • Provides you with an opportunity to outperform your travel competitors since competition isn’t as high in comparison to Google.

From the list above, what’s the most effective method you use to target tourists in paid ads?


A statistic I found interesting:

Email marketing yields a 4,400% ROI. That’s $44 back for every $1 you spend. (Optinmonster)


A question for you:

What email subject lines work the best for your travel business?

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