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[Updated August 2023]

“I don’t know what to write for my email list!”

Ahh, the perennial newsletter problem… If you’re new to writing email campaigns, you may be scared of annoying people with spam. If you have been producing newsletters for a while now, you may feel out of fresh ideas. No matter where you are with your email campaign journey, it can be a challenge to write a high-quality email to captivate your newsletter audience.

In general, there’s three types of people who will be on your list: hot prospects, long-term prospects and past guests.

Today we are considering long-term prospects and past guests. These people can go onto the same general email list. The good news is that for your business to stay in people’s minds, you don’t need to email them all that often. Once or twice a month should be sufficient, depending on your business. (You may 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 only.)

Here are some tips to try:

  1. Don’t make ALL of your emails naked attempts to sell trips. Find other topics to talk about so readers 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.
  1. Send behind the scenes emails. For some reason, people REALLY dig behind-the-scenes info. A glimpse of the inner workings of your business will likely prove to be your most popular topic. Try things like “meet the team” or “happy hiring day” or seasonally relevant peeks (office decorating? training day? holiday party? you get the idea).
  1. 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 slower months, plus test out ideas for new tour types.
  1. Send out tips related to your tour type and area. For example, if you run food tours you can share tips for local amazing, unknown restaurants. Winery tours can share advice and suggestions about wine. If you run city tours, try sharing insider tips about the city you run tours in.
  1. Send out photos. Why not? If we’ve learned one thing about photos, it is that people can’t get enough of them!
  1. For the love of everything good, don’t call it a newsletter. The stats are in: people are much 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 generally a drag for you to make, which nearly always comes through in the writing process, making them a drag to read too. 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. When subscribers feel like they are signing up for valuable and interesting content, subconsciously they will be much more likely to open it.
  1. 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.
  1. 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. By planning an email schedule with a variety of topics, you AND your readers will remain interested.
  1. Have creative, descriptive subjects for your emails. The subject line is the most important thing and will determine how many people open the email you send. ‘October Newsletter’ or ‘Update’ can definitely be improved upon. You should work hard on your subject line to come up with the best one possible. I like to use a subject line tester, such as in a new tab). I never send anything with less than a 92% rating.
  1. 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 ‘pre-header’ 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. Sometimes you are able to set your own pre-header text, depending on the program you are using.
  1. 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.
  2. 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 competitive advantage you have over gigantic-mega-huge corporations is that you’re NOT a gigantic-mega-huge corporation! Part of that is personal details… such as sending the email in your own name, not your company’s. Just subtly mention the company name so that the recipient knows where the email is coming from. You can do something like this: Mark Bickley (Owner, GeoTrips). Alternatively, you can add a little bit of visual branding to your newsletter emails, including your logo. 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.
  3. 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 something totally different is not going to help. In the emails I send out, I try to be as literal as possible, no games.
  1. 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. We want to prevent accidental unsubscribes!

Wrapping Up

The above are some basic tips to get started with effective emails. You can find advanced strategies in this book.(opens in a new tab) Just start with the basics. Email your list of realistic potential customers (new or repeat) on a regular schedule, and you will notice the results!

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