When you own or manage vacation rental properties, email marketing can help you increase direct bookings by turning your keyboard into a money making machine.
Every person who has stayed with you or who has inquired about staying with you is a potential source of income. But, if you don’t have these leads organized in an email marketing database, you are leaving money on the table.
If bookings are down across your properties and you have an engaged email list, you could potentially fill up your rentals with the click of a button.
A strong email marketing strategy really comes down to six steps:
- Collecting leads into a list
- Segmenting that list based on different booking criteria
- Warming up your cold leads
- Planning your campaign
- Creating your messaging
- Studying your analytics
The following vacation rental property email marketing tips from MyVR will walk you through those six steps, helping you turn leads into guests with almost no effort at all.
1. Collect and organize leads for your email marketing strategy
If you do not already have a database of email addresses, it’s time to create one. You can build a simple database that tracks your prospects’ names, email addresses, segmentation category, and any other relevant notes in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Another option is to employ an email marketing software like Mailchimp or Constant Contact that can automatically update your email subscriber list and make it easy to format, send, and track emails to your list of leads - as well as integrate with your MyVR property management software.
You will want to import all email addresses that you have collected from past guests and potential guests into this database, being sure to adhere to anti-spam laws in place for your country.
As you build your database, you should refine and segment your list as much as you can. (More on that in a minute.)
Going forward, you’ll automatically add new inquiries and guests who book with you to your database, but one email marketing strategy to get new contacts is to embed a pop up on your website with an opt-in offer that prospective guests will find hard to refuse. For example, if you have a vacation rental in Hawaii, you may offer a free list of the island’s best beaches…that locals don’t tell tourists about.
2. Segment your list
Imagine if I asked you to write a letter to someone about your vacation rental property but I didn’t tell you who would be receiving that letter. How could you possibly convey a clear message without knowing who you’re addressing? That’s why it’s so important to segment your list for your vacation rental property email marketing. The more refined your lists, the more powerful your content can be, and the greater your conversion rates will be as a result. You can segment your list by the month the guest stayed with you, by the reason for their stay, by whether or not they have pets, children, etc.
Think about it. You’ll send a much different message to a guest who is already familiar with your vacation rental than you would to those who have only expressed interest. You would have different messaging for a business traveler than you would for a family of six. The more directly you can speak to the audience of your email, the more powerful it will be. Business travelers might not be interested in receiving a list of the best dog parks in the area, but guests who ask if your listing is pet friendly may appreciate the info.
3. Turn cold leads into warm leads
If you’ve had a dormant list for months and all of a sudden, all of your contacts start getting emails from you, they may not remember you and your email might end up in a trash bin or reported as spam. One way to get past this problem is to use Facebook ads to remind those leads about who you are.
Through Facebook Ads Manager, you can upload your mailing list and target those leads who are on Facebook. Even a cost efficient Facebook ad can help past guests remember your brand. The more interaction you have with them - both on Facebook and via email marketing campaigns - the better chance you have in creating repeat customers.
4. Plan out your email marketing strategy
With a database of segmented email lists in place, now you have to decide how often you’re going to send messages to these people. There is no right answer to this, as long as you’re consistent. Two or three emails a month is probably the best frequency to aim for, but remember that you don’t want to send email just for the sake of sending email.
Make sure that your messages bring the reader something of value, or they will perceive your messages as spam, doing you more harm than good. Think about the problems they have and how you can solve them. If you’re sending a December newsletter, for instance, maybe remind your reader about holiday activities they can do in your town. Make it about them, not about you.
5. Create your email messages
Subject lines. If you don’t have a strong, compelling subject line, your message won’t get read. It’s as simple as that. This is a place where every word truly counts. You should speak as clearly as you can to the reader’s pain here and invite them to click on your message. If you cater to business travelers who hate traveling during the holidays, in November, try a subject line something like: Holiday travel is a pain. Put up your feet—the pay-per-view is on us! Many marketers are using emojis in their subject lines with great success because they make messages stand out. Most email marketing programs allow you to try A/B split testing so go ahead and test different types of subject lines and see what gets you the best open rates.
Design. You should have a consistent template for your email newsletters so people who receive them can instantly identify who they are coming from. Use the best images that you can…professional photography if possible. You want to elicit a response from the reader and make them dream about their stay so vividly that they can’t shake it. It’s also best if you have a nice clean design to keep the reader’s eyes focused on your message.
Content. Try to stick to a couple of clearly defined pieces of information so your reader doesn’t get overwhelmed with details. Always, always remember to keep it about the reader and express what you can do to make their life a little bit better.
Call to action. Your message should close with a clear strong to action that includes an ask. Whether that ask is to have the reader visit your website, follow your social media accounts, or call you for a discount code, don’t leave them hanging at the end of your message. Tell them, politely of course, what you would like them to do.
This article from guesthook.com has some great tips about creating email newsletters for your property rental.
6. Study your analytics
After you’ve sent your message, go back and review your analytics so that you can learn from each and every campaign that you send. Pay attention to open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribes. That’s how you will continue to strengthen your email marketing strategy into the future.
P.S. Before you send your email newsletter, stick a P.S. onto the end. This article has lots of great advice about how to get the most out of those two little letters.