When you think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you probably think of long lines and deep discounts at your favorite shop. Or perhaps your mind flashes to a crowded inbox jam-packed with offers from your most frequented e-commerce sites. These super-shopping dates are a boon to retailers, but they are also a boon to the hotel industry, as consumers are increasingly shopping for travel deals as well.
While the clock is ticking, there’s no need to panic. You still have time to create an enticing Black Friday/Cyber Monday email marketing strategy that will drive big results for your hotel(s). We've gathered a few of our favorite best practices and tips to help guide you as you create your campaigns.
1. Segment your database and personalize.
We all know that segmentation is key to ensuring email offers feel relevant and personal to the recipient. But did you also know that segmentation is instrumental in ensuring emails actually get delivered to inboxes? Gmail increases spam filtering with increased send volumes, so by dividing your subscribers into demographic and behavioral segments, you will help ensure the delivery of your message while also providing a more personalized experience to your recipient - leading to higher engagement and conversions.
Recommended segment criteria include:
• Geo-location • Stay date range
• Booking date • Family travel
• Loyal guests (number of stays) • ADR
• Guest lifetime spend
Once you’ve determined your segments, make sure your offer and content are relevant to that specific segment. For example, if you are targeting your California guests with a ski offer try the subject line: California, time to ditch the beach and hit the slopes.
2. Reward your Loyal guests.
They are your best customers so why not show them how thankful you are this Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Offer them early access to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. By making this explicit, you’ll make them feel valued and special. You’ll also encourage them to spend more of their budget with you instead of the competition.
Here are some ideas to entice your most loyal customers:
• Early access to Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals
• Free upgrades or value-adds
• Special discount available only to them
Last year, the Villa Florence in San Francisco rewarded email subscribers and past guests by giving them exclusive, early access to its Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. It also encouraged longer length of stays by offering a “3rd Night Free” promotion.
3. Extend your deals past Cyber Monday.
Competition over Black Friday/Cyber Monday is fierce and it can be hard to stand out in a crowded inbox. Consider letting your holiday deal extend a little longer. By setting a clear cut-off date, you maintain the sense of urgency and emphasize that your promotions are still exclusive and limited, while giving people a bit more time to make the decision.
4. Craft compelling subject lines.
This is not the season to be arty or clever. Your subject lines should be bold and to the point. It's time to sell!
Mention your discounts and freebies early in the subject line. Images should be simple but compelling and also emphasize the deal you're offering. Reiterate that in the first paragraph of the body copy, to make sure recipients who don't automatically download pictures will still see the offer.
Here are some examples of strong subject lines for your holiday hotel email marketing:
• Black Friday starts now with 50% off
• It’s tradition: enjoy 25% off rates + a bonus offer
• Jack, your exclusive Black Friday deal is here!
5. Think mobile.
Last year, mobile sales on Black Friday totaled $1.2 billion, according to Adobe, while mobile sales on Cyber Monday were up 34 percent to $1.07 billion. Your website and booking engine must be optimized to work well on the smallest screens.
Here's your mobile-friendly checklist:
• Mobile-responsive content
• Easily scrollable
• Clear call to action
• Short and sweet
6. Checklist quality and deliverability.
This season is too important for your overall hotel email marketing strategy to ignore the details of list quality and deliverability. With engagement already low around the holidays, the last thing you need on your list is an address that’ll bounce or a subscriber that will report your campaign as spam.
Remember that too many bounces could cause mailbox providers to downgrade or even refuse your emails.
Never use a purchased list, one borrowed from another sender or an old list. Perform a quality check for any new imports before you send to them. The goal is to only email people who know who you are and who are expecting this content from you.
Make sure to follow these deliverability best practices:
• Filter for recent stays (in the last two to three years)
• Provide alt text for all images
• Do not use a link shortener
• Make sure your links are formatted properly ("http://" or "https://")
• Provide an unsubscribe link that's easy to find and read
Follow these guidelines for your best-ever holiday hotel marketing campaign. For inspiration, read Our Favorite Holiday Campaigns From 2016. Here's to a happy and productive holiday season!