Recently we presented a webinar, Ticket to the Inbox: Benchmarks and effective tactics for travel email marketing which was based on our newly released whitepaper The Travel Company’s Guide to Email Marketing. During the webinar, we discussed how creating a better experience for those in and out of market can improve subscriber engagement and overall email program performance.
In this follow-up blog, we’re answering some of the great questions we received from our webinar attendees. Missed the webinar? You can still access the on-demand webinar recording.
Q: What indicators would trigger you to mail to your list more infrequently?
A: Both complaints and unsubscribers can be an indicator that subscribers feel overwhelmed by the frequency of messaging. In a recent study from MarketingSherpa, receiving too many emails was the top response for why subscribers decided to unsubscribe. While this is often the case, different subscribers have different tolerances. As a potential solution, group subscribers by engagement levels and determine whether these different segments have different rates of unsubscribes and complaints. If so, you may want to consider establishing different frequency limits for different engagement levels.
Q: If I only have the bandwidth to add one or two of the message types covered in the webinar to my email program, where should I start?
A: It’s great to have multiple touch points for engagement throughout the subscriber lifecycle, but you want to first focus on which emails will yield the best results coupled with the least risk. Adding or optimizing your existing pre-arrival and post-arrival email messages to travel guests is a great place to start. Not only do these messages have both high read rates and low complaint rates, they are also effective at building long-term customer loyalty for your brand. They are also directly tied to your guest’s overall satisfaction with your brand.
Birthday and anniversary emails also report high positive engagement. These emails allow you to personalize communication between your brand and subscribers at an individual level, which goes a long way in building customer loyalty and retention.
Once you create these email messages, you can set them up to be triggered by an associated date, then revisit them on a quarterly basis for continued optimization.
Q: What is the best timing for introducing a re-engagement campaign?
A: The timing of a re-engagement program is very nuanced and dependent on factors like currently inbox placement issues, goals for re-engagement, and typical conversion cycles. For marketers that are experiencing deliverability issues, a common tactic to improve inbox placement rates is to get more aggressive with inactive suppression thresholds. Re-engagement programs should be introduced prior to inactive cutoffs to allow subscribers adequate time to engage and timing should be tested to find an appropriate balance where deliverability is improved but the list isn’t reduced too drastically.
For marketers that simply want to provide subscribers with an opportunity to re-engage, they should consider introducing several re-engagement touchpoints throughout the lifecycle. Start by addressing early disengagement by proving the value of the email program beyond conversion/offer oriented content. Follow-up after a prolonged period of inactivity with a more typical re-engagement touchpoint that clearly communicates that the subscriber’s inactivity has been noted.
Q: Mailbox providers are looking at metrics like read rate, delete rate, reply rate, complaint rate. Do they all carry the same weight, or are some more important than others?
A: Mailbox providers do place different weights on those metrics, with the most significance given to read rate and complaint rate. From a mailbox provider’s perspective, read rate—or the number of emails marked as “read” out of all emails sent—is a clear indication of how desirable subscribers find your messages. Conversely, spam complaints are a direct signal from subscribers to mailbox providers that your content is unwanted. As such, mailbox providers heavily factor read rates and spam complaints into their filtering decisions.
Q: How would you recommend that I adapt abandon cart messages to fit a travel business model since a travel purchase/booking is different than a retail purchase?
A: Rather than putting direct pressure on subscribers to complete the booking, include content that inspires them to revisit the cart or your website. Beyond a simple reminder that they miss out on deals or availability, encourage subscribers to consider other options that may be a better fit for their travel goals and needs. Be sure to frame things in terms of the benefits and positive experiences that await should they take next steps.
Check out the full webinar for recommendations on enhancing the four key stages of the subscriber life-cycle, along with inspiring email examples from brands who are keeping subscribers engaged and loyal.
Laura Christensen is an Email Strategist on Return Path's Professional Services Team with a passion for helping email marketers exceed subscriber expectations. With over 15 years experience in the email industry, Laura has worked with a broad range of clients to provide strategic, data-driven guidance to increase email delivery, subscriber engagement and revenue. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Casey has a healthy fixation with helping marketers realize the potential of their email programs by addressing human needs, building better relationships, and ultimately driving improved results for the business. Her nine years of experience and obsession with evolving the email space helped land her a spot on ExpertSender’s list of “25 Email Geeks to Help You Get Your Geek On.”
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