In the first part of the series we looked travel brand newsletters from the perspective sign-ups, opt-ins and thank you pages.
Now we are going to look at the final four items on the check-list to produce successful newsletters:
- Create a compelling reason to sign up (e.g. travel deals, white papers, eBooks, photos, etc.)
- Design an opt-in form and place it prominently on your site
- Create a thank you page which provides further value
- Write a â€śWelcomeâ€ť email letting your subscriber know theyâ€™ve signed up successfully
- Deliver your opt-ins promise (e.g. travel deals, white papers, eBooks, photos, etc.)
- Send a series of emails which continue to add value
- Build a trusting audience
Step #4. Write a â€śWelcomeâ€ť email letting your subscriber know theyâ€™ve signed up successfully
The welcome email – along with the â€śthank youâ€ť page – reassures subscribers that theyâ€™ve signed up successfully.
Furthermore, the welcome email helps set expectations. Here is a screenshot of how these emails arrived in my inbox:
Most follow the same formula. The sender is simply the company name and the subject is “Welcome to [blank]“.
LateRooms, however, requires you activate your account first. This is actually a good thing â€“ unlike other travel sites, Late Rooms requires a double opt-in where subscribers must confirm they requested this information by clicking a link in their email.
Frankly, I was surprised to see other major travel sites werenâ€™t doing this. Double opt-ins generally produce higher engagement and are considered a best practice by most email newsletter providers.
Another small but important distinction: both FrommersÂ and LateRooms use awkward sender names (LateRooms_Offers@newsletter.com and email@example.com).
“Lonely Planet” reads much better than “support@Frommers.com”..
Here isÂ Airfare Watchdogâ€™s welcome email:
The email welcomes the subscriber, asks they check their email settings, and offers a free PDF report in the top right hand side of the email.
Right away, a reader can see additional value in this email and will likely continue to open future messages.
Step #5. Deliver on your opt-ins promise
If you offer an incentive, you must deliver it immediately after â€“ or at the same time â€“ as your welcome email. This goes for eBooks, white papers and any other â€śtangibleâ€ť offer.
In this case, Lonely Planet offered a discount for subscribing. You can see them delivering here:
Delivering on your promise helps build trust with your subscribers.
Step #6. Send a series of emails which continue to add value
This is where travel newsletters fall flat. Rather than building a relationship with their audience, they go straight for sale every time.
Take a look at Kayak‘sÂ email:
Nothing but a sales pitch.
Hereâ€™s another one from Orbitz:
Again, nothing but the hard sell. Of course, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with selling. But hard sells â€“ especially on a daily basis â€“ are a surefire way to lose subscribers.
Groupon sends a sales pitch everyday, but people continue to read it. Why?
Because the emails are entertaining, provide value and build trust. Many subscribers open Groupon emails for the entertainment â€“ and end up buying something.
Step #7. Build a profitable audience
As an audience grows, travel companies should gather feedback on how they can improve.
If travel sites (and your own, for that matter) are to improve conversions and boost revenue, the answer is simple: build deeper relationships with your audience.
Copyblogger CEO Brian Clark says in this post that a devoted audience helps you “build a better product, faster”.
Travel sites must embrace their newsletter by providing value and building trust, not use it as a way to increase short-term sales, but as a channel to build raving fans.
Do you have a newsletter? What have you learned and how could you optimize it further?