According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing generates a whopping 2500% ROI. While there are a variety of useful channels you can use to market your hotel, from social media, to metasearch, to remarketing, email done properly offers you a chance at a much stronger connection.

Your email list is a powerful marketing resource. It generates high quality leads, and can prove invaluable for guest retention.mobile-marketing-new-email

But here’s the problem: If your hotel email list is too small or it’s filled with people who aren’t really interested in your hotel, your emails won’t be nearly as effective. Furthermore, even if you do have a decent sized list, your email marketing database degrades by 22.5% every year naturally . People switch work emails, ignore that old account, or just send your messages to spam. Yikes!

Today’s post will help you overcome that problem. You’ll learn 5 mistakes that are deflecting people away from your list, and more importantly, how to turn those mistakes into more high quality email leads for your hotel.

Once you have a healthy, growing list, here’s our ultimate guide for best practices for hotel email marketing.

Let’s get started.

1. You Make Subscribing to Your List Hard

People often follow the path of least resistance. That means that the harder signing up to your list is, both in terms of guests understanding why they should subscribe and guests understanding how to subscribe, the fewer subscribers you’ll get.

How exactly do you make subscribing easier? Start by cutting out the noise and telling guests exactly what you’ve got.

Here are two ways to get started:

Tell Potential Guests What They’re Missing

Sometimes, being more direct in your marketing is exactly the right thing to do.

By telling potential guests what they’ll be missing out on if they don’t sign up, you make it easier for them to decide to subscribe. This is because we are psychologically inclined to fear losing something more than they enjoy gaining something.

Online betting tips company BettingExpert had great results when applying this small tweak to their opt-in forms.

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They found that the direct, informative version got 31.54% more subscribers than the other version.

Ask for Less

Would you rather fill out a form like this?

long form email signup

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Or this?

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The choice is clear.

The first form would give your hotel’s subscription page nothing but a high-converting back button. The second sign up form, on the other hand, is a breeze to fill out. It could use a better call to action, though – we’ll get to that in a minute.

No one wants to give a stranger their phone number if they don’t have to. While it may be tempting to ask for more information to target your marketing efforts, make the smart choice with your email sign ups and cut out the fields you don’t need. Your Google Analytics and customer personas will give you everything you need to make stellar email marketing campaigns.

2. You Have a Wimpy Call-To-Action

“Your call-to-action represents the tipping point between bounce and conversion.”

– Michael Aagaard, conversion rate optimizer

Having a weak call-to-action (CTA) can be the Achilles’ heel of your sign up page. It’s where all that hard work you put into your copy, your designs and your branding will either push guests through to the finish line or let their interest lapse at the last minute.

Your CTA might be a small element, but it’s a powerful one. This study from Copyblogger is a great demonstration of just how effective changing your CTA can be:

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There were no major changes to the calls-to-action. Only small tweaks in wording.

And those small tweaks resulted in an 81% conversion boost with variation B (the green button), and a 95% conversion boost with variation C (the orange button).

To magnetize your hotel opt-in form CTA:

  1. Use powerful language that doesn’t invite hesitation.
  2. Stick to one call-to-action. You don’t want to distract.
  3. Make your button stand out compared to the other colors on the page
  4. Experiment with images in the form.

Finally, remember to prioritize relevance and value over everything. The more relevant your CTA is to your target audience, and the more value it indicates to your visitor, the higher opt-in conversions will be.

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are 30 of the best calls-to-action around.

3. You Don’t Reward People Who Subscribe

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Sony boosted their conversions by 300%. Dropbox is worth billions despite spending very little on advertising. And in their early days, Paypal grew by 7-10%, every single day.

What do all these growth stories have in common?

If your guess was a reward-based strategy to spur people to action and make them glad they signed up, you’re right.

Potential guests might subscribe to your list if you just ask them. But you’re guaranteed to shoot up your subscriber count by offering visitors a reward for signing up.

Not sure what opt-in rewards to use? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Travel guides that include popular attractions near your hotel
  • Hotel discounts and special deals for subscribers.                                                         TIP: This is also a way you can offer a better book direct rate while still complying with your OTA contract terms. Most OTA contracts with rate parity terms are only allowed to specify rate parity for publicly available rates; subscriber-only rates aren’t covered.
  • Email-only seasonal contests and giveaways, advertised across your social channels

To create an opt-in reward that potential guests will love, start by looking at things from their perspective. Focus on helping them solve a problem or filling a need.

4. You Don’t Split Test to Find the Best

You might think split testing is too complex, or might be unsure of how to get started.

Don’t worry – it’s not rocket science! All you do is compare one page element, like the image or the CTA, against another to see which converts better. Then, when you find your winner, you stick with it and keep optimizing.

For the little effort required, split testing offers your hotel a huge ROI. You can skyrocket your conversions and bookings without having to fork out cash for more traffic, exposure, or reach.

You just tweak on-page elements for better results.

In fact, marketing experts like Glen from ViperChill have claimed that, with split testing, it’s even possible to double subscriber growth with 10 minutes of work.

So what split tests should you run to snag more hotel email subscribers? You can test:

  • Your call-to-action
  • Your opt-in box design
  • Your CTA color
  • Your opt-in reward
  • Your opt-in box location

TIP: keep in mind that common wisdom and best practices aren’t always correct. When you split test, you’ll find the details behind what makes your specific hotel audience tick. Consulting your guest personas when you think about your split testing elements will also be extremely useful.

5. You’re Not Using Pop-ups

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Nikki McGonigal, a craft blogger, experimented with a pop-up box form for her opt-ins. After 8 months, she found that it got her 7,000 additional subscribers.

And when popular blogger Darren Rowse gave pop-up boxes a try, subscriptions leaped from 40 to 350 a day.

If you aren’t already using them, give pop-up box forms a shot.

Bonus Tip: Use Content Upgrades to Draw Subscribers

Content upgrades are a lesser known technique for spiking your subscriber count.

It’s prevalent in the content marketing world, but can also be used to improve your hotel email list.

So what exactly is a content upgrade? Unlike traditional “site-wide” opt-ins, a content upgrade is bonus content tailored for page-specific information.

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For example, let’s say your hotel caters primarily for survival enthusiasts and adventurers, and an eager survivalist lands on your site.

He’s seen your “site-wide” downloadable pamphlet for making sure your holiday goes smoothly, but he doesn’t subscribe.

Now, while exploring your site, a special “survivalist” offer hooks his attention. The offer is based on various survival activities, and your visitor clicks through.

This is where the content upgrade comes in:

While he’s scrolling through the details of your offer–or after he finishes–he’s given the option to sign up for a page-specific report called “5 Lessons From Survival Pros on How to Master the Outdoors.”

There’s a higher chance of him now signing up, because your offer simultaneously creates curiosity (“who are these pros, and what can they tell me?”) and gives him a way to satisfy it – by signing up!

Content upgrades have been proven to skyrocket conversions. Brian Dean from Backlinko boosted conversions by 785% after offering content upgrades, and Tim Soulo from Bloggerjet.com soared conversions by 300%.

Give the content upgrade a try. You’ll be surprised at the results having page-specific bonuses can have.

Conclusion

To summarize:

  1. Make signing up as easy as possible
  2. Experiment with pop-ups and content upgrades
  3. Improve your call-to-action
  4. Test everything!

By following these steps, you’ll snatch up more subscribers and reel in high quality leads for your hotel. How are you currently growing your hotel email list?