It can take a bit of effort to reach someone who wants to book your vacation rental. You need to get that visitor to your website, attract their attention on a channel or entice them through social media.
Don’t let all your hard work attracting new guests go to waste. Harness the power of email marketing to put yourself in front of your warm leads - anyone who has stayed with you before or inquired about your property in the past.
In six steps, we’ll teach you how to build a short-term property management newsletter that will reward you with repeat visitors and less vacancies.
Step 1: Create your contact list
This step can be time consuming depending on how well you’ve managed guest data in the past, but it will be worth it. You may find it best to focus on people who have sent inquires over the last 12 months, not only to keep the volume of data more manageable but because anyone who has sent an inquiry more than a year ago is likely more of a cold lead than a warm one.
To create your list, use a spreadsheet to input the following columns of data:
- First name
- Last name
- Email address
- Optional: You may want to categorize by month, occasion for the visit, or anything else you might find useful for targeted marketing.
If you haven’t already, you must go through past inquiry emails and record the sender’s information in the spreadsheet. Include the same details for people who actually have rented from you.
Step 2: Decide your newsletter’s purpose
You can’t send a newsletter purely with the motivation to sell to your contacts. That’s a great way to be flagged as spam.
Think of what the greater purpose of your newsletter should be - what would your audience find beneficial - and let that drive your content.
So, for instance, maybe you want to keep people informed about the top five events happening in your location every single weekend. Or maybe you want to make your newsletter all about traveling tips for families, or the best things to see and do during the shoulder season in your area.
Hopefully some themes will jump out at you from reading past guest inquiries; if not, you’ll have to trust your instincts for now.
The most important thing to remember about your newsletter: it’s not about you. We’re all bombarded with information, and we’re tired of being sold to. If something isn’t relevant or useful to your audience, they’ll tune it out.
When planning your newsletter, try to:
- Identify what your potential renters need, then
- Subtly highlight your property as a solution.
While you don’t want your vacation rental information to be buried by other information, you should reflect that your property matches something that’s important to your reader. That could be because it’s right on the beach, that it has a great patio for watching the meteor shower, or that it is in walking distance to the upcoming food festival.
Step 3: Collect and create content for your newsletter
Now that you know what the purpose of your newsletter is, it’s time to create content. It will be helpful to use a theme for your newsletters. Here are some examples of themes that you can feel free to use:
- A significant upcoming local event
- Travel tips for winter vacationers
- Destination weddings
- Stress management
Tailor your primary content around that theme. A focus on stress management, for example, could feature an article about how vacation time can boost productivity, with a coupon for a stress-busting mid-week getaway.
Other important information you could highlight includes:
- Updates you’ve made to your property
- Local events and activities
- Recent reviews
- A coupon or promotion
- Updated photos of your property
Also be sure to add any relevant contact information, like:
- Your website, email address and phone number
- Your property address
- Links to any other channels like Facebook or Instagram
Step 4: Building your newsletter
It’s never been easier to build a newsletter, especially with MyVR's seamless integrations to industry leaders MailChimp and Constant Contact. We make it easy to keep track of your past guests and inquiries, as well as segment your contact list to create more highly-targeted emails and promotions.
But a simple web search can compare services, support and training so you know which email marketing provider best fits your needs. Make sure that the service you select will allow you to upload the spreadsheet you created back in Step 1!
Another benefit to using these tools is that they generally force you into compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act – a federal law that sets the rules and regulations around commercial email.
According to this legislation, you must honor several requirements including:
- Identifying your message as an ad
- Including your physical location
- Telling people how to opt-out
Step 5: Newsletter logistics
Before you hit the “Send” button, there are a few questions you need to figure out for yourself:
- How often will you send your newsletter? If you want to aim for weekly, biweekly or monthly, great! There’s no right answer. Just make sure you're able to commit. You can adjust your schedule once you start receiving feedback too.
- What should your subject line be? That old adage applies here: Keep it simple! Refer to the three key elements of irresistible email subject lines from the experts at Copyblogger.
- When should you send your email? When it comes to email marketing, day and time do matter! This guide from Benchmark Email will help you decide when to schedule your messages.
Step 6: Get permission
One important step to take before launching your new newsletter is to give all the people on your contact list the opportunity to opt-in to your newsletter.
This helpful chart from AWeber provides a nice overview of when it’s okay to add contacts to an email list. In short: You can only add people to your list when they’ve given you permission.
For your first message, write a brief introduction that describes:
- Who you are, with a brief description of your rental property
- Why you’re contacting them (whether it’s because they stayed with you in the past or requested information)
- Why you're newsletter will benefit them (discounts, travel information, etc.)
- What your newsletter is about
- A link to your subscription page (which you will have set up using the email service)
This step may cut the number of people on your email list, but you’ll know that each subscriber is genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Plus, this is an important way to avoid the dreaded “spam” button!