It’s always gratifying to hear that somebody from outside your industry is offering you plaudits. John Murphy, president of ReachMail, an email service provider that competes with companies like Constant Contact, has developed an admiration for email marketing as practiced by travel industry suppliers.
“I’m impressed as both a consumer and marketer,” said Murphy. “As a consumer, I have been struck by how good the travel industry is at doing email marketing. It’s actually a good laboratory for what works.”
Though he does not have clients in travel, Murphy said, “I still look for good examples of email marketing in any field.” Murphy has a couple of theories for the success of travel companies. One is that they are selling a product with a limited lifespan – a hotel room, an airplane seat. Second, it’s such a competitive market.
Despite those differences, Murphy believes other industries can learn from travel. He lists four positive attributes that he sees travel companies as sharing; they include:
1) Clear calls to action. “One of the hardest things to do,” said Murphy, “is a clear call to action. I have links on our site to a bunch of examples, including Spirit Airlines and Princess Cruises. It’s a simple book-and-save message. Some of the biggest marketers of products are afraid of focusing on one thing; they’re afraid that if they choose one, they are not talking about a lot of other stuff.”
2) Pushing preference centers. Murphy sees travel companies as “prominently pushing preference centers. They want to know if their customers want a vacation in Florida in winter or business travel to Europe – so they can send relevant offers. Most other marketers are not aggressively asking for preferences – again afraid of leaving something out.”
3) Aggressive use of social media. One of the best he has seen, said Murphy, was a Carnival Cruise promotion. “They start with email, then layer on social media. They might introduce a new ship, then offer a great giveaway sweepstakes for those who go to Facebook. Then they extend that to Facebook friends and then to Twitter and other platforms.”
4) Narrow email templates. “There’s always lots of white space in travel emails,” said Murphy, “which shows discipline. Many marketers want to cram the space with information.”
Bottom line, said Murphy: “Travel companies have common objectives because the reward for them is so huge – selling an extinguishable product. If they can sell that extra room or seat, the rewards for doing it well are enormous.”
Travel marketers: Take the compliment from an outsider’s perspective – and build on it.