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Edition 18

It started with a wedding...

I've been to my fair share of disastrous weddings and I bet you have too.

Torrential rain, scraps between the in-laws and out-laws, precious home movies that don't turn out and flowers that arrive late.

Thankfully, none of these things happened on my wedding day, Saturday September 15, 2001.

Yep! This month Jayson and I have been married for eight happy years (everybody say awwww!) and unlike many of our friends we DO actually talk about our wedding day as being one of the best days of our lives.

Our reception was held at a South West holiday resort so you can imagine the little happy dance I performed when I was approached recently by management of the very same resort to create and manage an email marketing strategy for them (At my client's request, I'm not disclosing the resort name).

The campaign is now in its third month and is achieving some pretty startling results - including (you did read right!) generating about $50,000 worth of bookings from one email.

Now I'm going to take you backstage as it were and share all the behind the scenes info that went into development of this campaign to help you either:

  • figure out how to get started on your own email marketing campaign or
  • get better results with what you are already doing.

This was the brief from the resort: Use database of 16,000 email addresses (responsibly collected with strict permission-only approach) to boost bookings.

Unfortunately this big list of past guests had not been contacted by the resort in a long time which meant we had to face the prospect of a very high bounce rate due to contact details being out of date and a high number of opt-outs from those no longer interested in keeping in touch.

The relationship-building process would have to start from scratch.

Before initiating the first email though, I gave thought to what needed to be achieved overall:

  • Increase bookings (obviously!)
  • Keep the resort top-of-mind
  • Build sense of loyalty among guests
  • Encourage word-of-mouth referrals
  • Increase average length of stay
  • Increase customer lifetime value
  • Drive traffic to resort website
  • Grow mailing list
  • Educate tourists about local attractions
  • Improve feedback processes on resort experience

Issues that guided design of the E-newsletter template were:

  • Complement existing website design to ensure a seamless transition from the E-newsletter to the website.
  • Convey a sense of prestige as the resort provides a superior level of luxury, comfort and service when compared to its many competitors in the area.
  • Links located on right-hand side for ease of use (most people use their computer mouse with their right hand)
  • Clean, open and un-cluttered look making the information easy to digest on-screen.

Next came my favourite bit - crafting of the words!

First thing to address here was the WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) factor.

Let's face it. In 2009 nobody wants to be receiving more useless email so resort management cleverly developed a ridiculously good offer to minimise the expected rate of opt-outs.

Then it was up to me to bring the offer to life in a way that gave the resort a human face, a personality that readers could engage with.

I also wanted to convey a sense of exclusivity that would communicate the value of staying on the mailing list.

Finally, I also planned to build on circulation of the email offer by encouraging readers to share the email with their friends.

If you would like to see my copy, just reply to this email and I'll send it right to your inbox.

One week later a glimpse of the tracking statistics or metrics showed:

Open rate: 29 per cent or 3264 people - well above the Australian email marketing industry average open rate of just over 20 per cent.

As expected, the number of bounced emails due to out-dated details was pretty high at 5109. These names have now been removed from the list.

179 people or a tiny 1.1 per cent decided to opt-out.

In the words of resort management, that first email was "a huge success".

The result of all these opens and clicks was 326 room nights booked from 56 phonecalls and 114 emails.

At an average cost per night of $150, depending on which particular offer guests took advantage of, it's about $48,900 worth of bookings!

And that figure doesn't take into account additional revenue generated by other purchases guests might make during their stay including meals and drinks.

What does all this tell you?

The bottom line: Don't decide one quiet Friday arvo (just because you can!) that you might blast everyone in your Address Book with details of your latest specials. Email Marketing can generate some pretty powerful results but like any form of marketing, it requires careful planning and management.

Tune in next month and I'll fill you in on what's been happening with the resort's campaign since that first email.

Brown Mouse Communications helps small business owners build trust and win sales through high quality, individualised email newsletters.

© Copyright 2008 Brown Mouse Communications

All rights reserved. You may reproduce this article by including this copyright and if reproducing electronically, including a link to www.brownmouse.com.au

Check out our previous editions

Why not check out some of the previous editions of Mouse Mail!