We don't always consider e-mail a social channel among Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other sites, but e-mail was the original platform that most of us engaged.
While Facebook is essential to creating a brand identity, Twitter to providing newsworthy information and Pinterest to offering inspiration, e-mail effectively combines all of the benefits of these platforms with an added level of personal connection. In addition, according to a study by the American Press Institute, Americans trust information shared via permission-based electronic news at a higher rate than any other communication method. The personal, trustworthy nature of e-newsletters can help group travel planners develop relationships with prospective clients and increase client retention.
At the early stages in a prospective client's journey, they're simply gathering information and brand awareness about a potential product or service. It can take six to eight touches with that prospect before they may even request information from you directly. Effective e-mail marketing is another touch point in the sales cycle that allows group travel professionals to maintain communication with existing customers and build business incrementally.
Finding the balance between promotional and educational content—while making time to create the content—are all too often the biggest hurdles when creating e-newsletters. Those in the group travel industry may chose to provide timely, educational and relevant information on industry trends, popular destinations, travel tips and promotions. Keep in mind the suggested balance: 90 percent educational material and 10 percent promotional material. E-newsletters that offer good content with subtle promotional aspects are more likely to generate interest and, therefore, sales leads.
That's where analytics come in.
Maybe the most important benefit of e-newsletters is the ability to collect leads and analyze e-mail effectiveness. E-mail marketing platforms are equipped to tell you not only how many people opened an e-mail, but also who clicked on the content or call-to-action prompts.
The "click through reports" generated by the e-mail software have two key benefits: First, you'll discover what content resonates the most with your audience, so you can tailor your content to generate even more leads. Second, each "click through" is considered a lead—someone who "voted" for you by clicking on your content to get more information and can be added to the sales pipeline for follow-up.
Finally, e-newsletters are budget friendly. Cloud-based subscriptions to e-mail design and distribution software are reasonably priced. If you utilize an outside marketing agency, most already have this tool available to their clients.
With proper nurturing, e-newsletters can be a cost-effective touch point to develop "sales-ready" prospects and maintain an authentic connection with your existing clients.
Written by Elena Winger, Serendipity Media.