‘What should I send in my emails?’ Ahh, the universal question. If you’re like most people who haven’t yet tried email campaigns, you may be scared of annoying people with spam.
Before we get on to that, there’s three types of people who would be on your list: hot prospects, long-term prospects and past guests.
Let’s deal with long-term prospects and past visitors at this moment. These people can go onto the same general email list. The good news is that for your service to stay in people’s minds, you don’t need to email all that often. You’ll see blog posts telling you to email once a week or more, but that doesn’t apply in this particular case, rather to hot prospects.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t make ALL of your emails naked attempts to sell trips. Find other topics to talk about so they don’t feel like you’re non-stop pumping them for cash. I doubt I’m the only person who hates being repetitively slammed with requests for money. The only exception to this is if your tour business runs special event type tours which happen on specific dates.
- Send behind the scenes emails. For some reason, people REALLY dig behind-the-scenes info. I have a buddy with a business where they share ALL of their revenue details – to the exact cent – on their blog every single month. Each month, this is by far the most popular blog post they write, and the funny thing is that it’s all about them.
- Keep appetites whetted about upcoming events, and test out new ideas. This is the best thing about having an email list: you can use it to fill in the down months and test out ideas for new tour types.
- Send out tips related to your tour type and area. If you run food tours, you can share tips for amazing, unknown restaurants. Winery tours can share advice and insider tips about wine. If you run more generic city tours, that’s fine too: just share tips about the city you run tours in.
- Send out photos. Why not? If we’ve learned one thing about photos, it is that people can’t get enough of them.
- For the love of everything good, don’t call it a newsletter. I kind of enjoy newsletters from small businesses (I’m a little wacky), but the stats are in: they show that people are less likely to click on something with a name like Newsletter or eNews. The primary reason for this is that newsletters feel like a drag. They’re a drag for you to make, which nearly always comes through in the writing process, making them a drag to read. While it’s always good to have some kind of marketing schedule behind the scenes, you don’t need to broadcast this to the world.
- Keep yourself front of mind. How frequently should you send the emails? At least once a month and no less. Depending on the kind of tours you run, you may want to send more. If you run lots of special events, it’s more appropriate to send more emails.
- That being said, only email when you have something to say. This comes back to the forced feeling of email newsletters, which tend to bore people over time because the person doing it is bored themselves.
- Have creative, descriptive subjects for your emails. The subject is the most important thing and will determine how many people open the email you send. ‘October Newsletter’ or ‘Update’ can be improved upon. You should work hard on your subject line and try to come up with the best one possible.
- Make sure the opening lines are attention grabbing. The first two sentences of an email are what your reader will see as a preview in their email inbox. This is known as a ‘preheader’ or ‘teaser’. You need to focus on making sure that those few words do the job of getting people interested in opening the email and hearing what you have to say.
- Test and track. By sending a variety of emails and and tracking them, you’ll build a picture over time as to which emails people find interesting and which are duds.
- Send the email in your own name, not the company’s. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue saying it until your ears bleed: business needs to be personal. The money-printing competitive advantage you have over gigantic-mega-huge corporations is that you’re NOT a gigantic-mega-huge corporation!
Part of that is sending the email in your own name, not your company’s. Just mention the company name in the subject or in brackets so that the recipient knows where the email is coming from. You can do something like this: Mark Bickley (GeoTrips).
While writing this chapter, I received an email from a small business owner named Christine. She wanted to thank all her guests for making the previous year so wonderful for her. She included a couple of pictures of kangaroos hanging out near her property and signed off.
You know how I felt after reading this email? I felt great. I really felt happy for Christine! The strangest thing is her email didn’t even try to sell or be entertaining. It was just a personal thank you. Now Christine’s business is at the front of my mind.
Even if an email isn’t one-to-one, it still does feel personal to receive an email directly from the owner. Go ahead, give it a try.
- Don’t be overly creative (read: deceptive) in your subject lines. This annoys your readers and can lose sales. While it helps to write creative subject lines for your emails, promising one thing and delivering another is not going to help. In the emails I send out, I try to be as literal as possible, no games.
- Make sure your unsubscribe button is nowhere near any other links in your email, including the links in your signature. This is important because when you’re using your thumbs on mobile devices, it’s sometimes hard to click on the right link.
The above are some basic tips to get started with effective emails. There are more advanced methods, sure. You’ll even find me talking a bit about them in my book! Just start with the basics. Email your list of realistic potential customers (new or repeat) from time to time, and you will notice the result.
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