Getting subscribers to open an e-newsletter and then click on a link it contains remains a holy grail mission for many hotels agents. In their quest, hoteliers sometimes forget that open rates start with subscribers actually receiving their e-newsletters.
“You could create the greatest email campaign in the world, but what’s the use if none of your subscribers see it because it was blocked or sent to the spam folder,” said email marketing expert and TA Fastrack CEO, Adrian Caruso.
Getting your e-newsletter into your clients’ inboxes and out of their spam folders is one of the most effective ways to improve open rates for e-newsletters.
Below are some of the email mechanics Adrian recommends that will ensure subscribers.
1. Improve email deliverability.
One of the most important ways to increase your open rate is to improve your inbox placement rate. Your clients have to see an e-newsletter before they can open it or click on a link inside of it.
“When most people think about delivered email, they just think about what was accepted by the email provider,” Adrian said. “But you don’t know whether your email was delivered to the inbox or the spam folder.”
Why might emails go directly into a subscriber’s spam folder? One of the most common causes is a high number of recipients reporting your email as spam. This causes many email providers to start sending any emails from you into spam folders automatically.
According to Adrian, 77% of delivery issues were caused by a sender’s reputation.
One way to improve deliverability is to track complaints so you can remove recipients who have complained from your mailing list. Some email providers have options that allow senders to track complaints themselves, or you can sign up for a third-party monitoring service. Immediately delete emails in these reports from your recipient list.
2. Optimize your sending address.
When email recipients skim their inboxes, they look first for recognizable “from” addresses, Adrian said. Sending from a name your subscribers don’t recognize can get your email deleted, or reported as spam.
Adrian recommended that the “from” name on emails be the same as the company name on your website and the name used at events where subscribers opt-in for your emails. A hotel or property name or brand is best.
“Some marketers put the from line as their own personal name, say Joe Smith. But when I’m scanning my inbox and see Joe Smith, and I have no idea who Joe Smith is, I might delete it – end of email conversation.”
3. Optimize your subject line.
After checking the from address, email recipients scan subject lines to determine relevancy and interest, Adrian said.
Subject lines can be more difficult to optimize. Hoteliers should test different subject lines as well as look at past performance of subject lines to determine what holds most interest for their subscribers, Adrian said.
Hoteliers also should examine their web analytics to see which keywords people are using to find their websites. Keywords are a good indicator of what customers are interested in reading about.
For instance, if it’s September and you notice an uptick in website visitors who went to your site after Googling Gold Coast, consider theming your next e-newsletter around Gold Coast or sun and sand holidays.
Also, target subject lines either to a specific smaller subscriber group or keep them broad so they avoid alienating segments of a large subscriber group. Adrian, a man, said if he sees a subject line from a retailer about a sale on summer dresses, he’ll immediately delete the email.
Hoteliers also should avoid using words and symbols in subject lines that automatically trigger spam filters. For instance, FREE in all caps and multiple exclamation points are both no-nos.
4. Examine your sign-up process.
Sign-up pages with clear wording about the types of emails subscribers will receive, who they’ll receive emails from and how frequently have much higher open rates than others, Adrian said. If subscribers’ expectations are not met, they are likely to delete your emails right away or, worse, report your email as spam.
The sign-up process also should be relatively easy. Adrian recommended a two-step process. First, ask for an email address. Second, once the subscriber enters his or her email, pop up a page offering the option to provide additional information.
5. Ask to be added to address books.
Some email providers automatically route emails sent from addresses not included in an address book or trusted senders list to a spam or suspect folder. To avoid this, ask subscribers to add your email to their address book and trusted sender lists.
Additionally, most email providers today block images from downloading; this can affect open rates, as recipients are less apt to open emails containing ugly broken image boxes. Asking subscribers to add you to their address book or trusted senders list gets around this, because most email systems download images from senders on these lists.