According to a new report, "Connected Marketing for Travel Providers," from StrongMail and the Relevancy Group, based on the study of travel and hospitality email marketers in April 2010 by the Relevancy Group, the top three email marketing initiatives for the travel industry in 2010 are increasing email deliverability rates (38%), integrating email and social media (37%) and improving the segmentation/targeting of their programs (35%).
The travel industry continues to be plagued with list churn, says the report, which has been amplified by people losing their jobs during the recession and opting for "stay-cations" instead of traditional vacations to save money. Accordingly, the top three email marketing challenges cited by travel marketers for 2010 are:
· List turnover (32%)
· Email deliverability (29%)
· Frequency management (28%)
42% of travel marketers plan to integrate social media into email marketing programs this year. 28% are analyzing the social influence of their subscribers and using that to target their email campaigns, followed by a third of travel marketers that plan to embrace this tactic within the next 12 months.
32% of the travel industry cited subscriber addresses going bad or dormant as their top?challenge, which was also a major concern for other industries, including retailers and media companies. However, subscriber churn is a particularly troublesome issue for travel marketers as the episodic nature of travel and price sensitivity for both the consumer and business traveler drives switching among travel providers.
Additionally, given the macro?economic conditions that have driven work?force reductions and the consumer notion of "stay?cations," travel marketers are particularly challenged to keep their subscribers engaged.
The top challenges reported by travel email marketers include:
· Email Deliverability
· Managing Email frequency
· Knowledge to optimize
· Analyzing mailing results
· Automating campaigns
· Adequate staffing
· Lack of integrated data
Given the challenge of subscriber churn and email delivery, it is appropriate for 38% of travel marketers cite improving deliverability as one of their top three priorities for 2010. Travel marketers overwhelmingly recognize the benefits that further social integration (37%) and segmentation (33%) can have on improving relevance and mailing performance. 28% cited that centralizing their customer data to make it more actionable is a top priority for the coming year. Additionally 24% of respondents realize the benefit that improving their transactional messaging capabilities can have both in driving revenue and cost efficiencies.
42% of travel email marketers are keen to integrate their email efforts with social marketing. The travel industry is primed to implement social technologies both to leverage customer reviews as well as guard against unfortunate customer service situations, says the report. And, while nearly every social networking tool requires an active email address for a consumer to participate in it, travel marketers recognize the need to connect email efforts to social marketing programs.
While half of travel email marketers surveyed are using geography for segmentation, many more are missing crucial targeting opportunities to improve message revenue and profitability. Beyond leveraging demographic and geographic data, the report suggests that travel email marketers leverage the following tactics:
· 44% of travel email marketers surveyed are using customer satisfaction data as a segmentation attribute, which can be used to identify at?risk customers and in tempering the message's tone and offers.
· Click through data is used to understand subscriber engagement and spot potential churn patterns. Mailing long dormant email subscribers can compound delivery issues and ISPs penalize senders for mailing to dormant email addresses.
· While customer profitability is an excellent segmentation attribute, says the report, marketers should also incorporate the subscriber's social influence into these profitability measures.