As a vacation rental property manager or owner, you know what matters to guests, but your words don’t mean anything if your guests never get the message.

That’s why we’ve put together some quick tips to teach you how to optimize your emails for deliverability, open rates, clicks and responses so that not only do your messages get delivered, but they are then read and acted upon!

How to improve the deliverability of your vacation rental emails

  • Try not to sound “spammy.” Many email providers, including Gmail, use algorithms to flag spam or phishing attempts. This starts with your subject line. Avoid using trigger words like “free” and “sale” in your subject line. Same goes for strings of characters like “$$$” and “!!!” which also can trigger your mail to go straight to a spam folder. By making sure your subject lines don’t include these words and characters, you’re more likely to actually have your message delivered to inboxes.

  • Scrub your mailing list. Try to clean your list on a regular basis. If an email bounces, for instance, stop sending to that person! Make it part of your regular administrative process to perform periodic email list cleaning to remove bounced or undeliverable addresses. If you keep emailing bounced addresses, your bounce rate will increase, which will hurt your delivery rate.

  • Use more text and less images. Be conscious of your text-to-image ratio. A good rule of thumb is the 60/40 rule. Images should take up no more than 40% of the space in your emails, otherwise it can negatively impact your deliverability. And even if your image-heavy messages are delivered, too many visuals can distract your reader from your core message. Email providers scan for anything outside of plain text before delivering mail to recipients. Too many images may prevent mail from reaching certain addresses or entire email providers (such as

  • Test your emails. Before sending a message to your recipients, send it to yourself and/or a friend first. Having other people review your message can help you spot mistakes. This can also help you see how your message will look on other devices and via other email providers, as they are not all the same. As a general best practice, try to keep your email between 500 and 650 pixels wide which will, at the very least, ensure your email doesn’t get cropped and the recipient will be able to read your email without zooming.

Increase your vacation rental email open rates

Now that you know how to get your emails delivered, let’s discuss making sure your audience opens them.

  • Personalize your greeting. Are you more likely to open an email if the subject line addresses you by name? Many email templates and automation tools allow you to use “smart tags” to personalize your messages. By adding a smart tag into the subject line or body of your email you’re giving your emails a more personal touch. You can use whatever pieces of data you capture on your intake form. For example:

Hello {{firstname}},
Rent a Villa for {{companyname}}’s next team building event!
Great vacation rentals close to {{city}}

Not sure where to start? Check out these ready-made email examples - perfect for autoresponders!

  • Keep subject lines short and sweet. In the past we’ve discussed writing email templates and compelling headlines for your vacation rental listings, but another consideration for your emails is to keep those subject lines brief. The text in your subject line may be cut off, depending on the email provider, so for that reason, lead with the most important point first.

  • Tell them what’s in it for them. Make your message about your audience, not you. Using a subject line such as “Relax at a Countryside Villa | Book Now” instead of “Book Now | Relax in a Countryside Villa” can have a substantial impact on open rates - especially if the benefit to the recipient gets cut off as mentioned above. Leading with the benefits of your rental in the body of your email will keep the reader engaged long enough to get to any promotions you’re offering.

  • Give incentives. While you want to lead with benefits for the reader and keep them engaged, you can also work in some incentives to encourage them to respond. For example, “Ring in the New Year in San Francisco for 50% Less! Book Now!” This can be a good strategy to fill weekday or last minute openings for your properties too.

  • Use the sender’s email address to influence tone and engagement. The name and email address of the sender has an impact on open rates, deliverability and the readers’ engagement level, so avoid using 'No-Reply' in the sender's email address. "No reply" prevents your audience from being able to unsubscribe from further emails, which is a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Edit your sender’s email address so that automated emails come from a “person” by using a first name (ie: Readers are more likely to open emails if they know they were sent by a human being. This also allows you to further personalize the email and make it more conversational, encouraging the reader to reply or click on your "call to action” (CTA).

Encourage replies to your emails through strong calls to action

Now that we’ve covered how to get your messages delivered and opened, let’s get those readers taking action!

  • Ask for a reply. You’ll enjoy higher response rates when you end your email with a question instead of a statement. For example, saying, “Are you interested in renting this Villa?” will generate more replies than, “We hope you’re interested in renting this Villa!”

By asking for a reply you’re able to engage potential guests and generate valuable insights from their responses. For instance, someone might reply with: “I’m not interested right now, but maybe in 6 months.” That is information that could help you in the future, even if the response isn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

  • Write key points and your CTA above “the fold.” The fold refers to the part of your email visible before the recipient must scroll to continue reading. Keep the most important information and action items above the fold so the recipient can see it without having to scroll down.

  • Keep your emails short and to the point. If you want to elaborate on something complicated or highly detailed, give a brief overview in your message and then link to a blog post or website for more information, rather than writing out every detail. Readers have short attention spans, so don’t make them work too hard for your message.

  • Avoid using images for your calls to action. Nowadays, email providers will allow users to disable images from showing in their emails…that means a call to action written on a button image may not show up for some of your recipients. The images below demonstrate this point.

Email with image blocker enabled:

Email with image blocker disabled:

We hope that implementing these tips will result in your guests hearing you loud and clear! Check out MyVR’s automation tools for even more help with your email marketing.