Everyone who has shopped online has experienced this once. Remember searching the internet for a new coffee maker and instead filling your cart with “essentials” like fancy chocolates? Then, you forget about the whole operation and go back to scrolling through Facebook. As the company owning that abandoned cart of online goods, losing that transaction without knowing it was occurring is ignorant bliss. But if a company wants to complete that transaction, email marketing is a channel to explore.
Drip or email marketing is essentially a set of marketing emails that are sent out automatically on a schedule. With permission to communicate via email or SMS messaging, an email marketing company can remind a customer that he or she didn’t finish checking out their cart, that the hotel they’re staying in is having happy hour in 10 minutes, or provide them with a list of top-rated restaurants in the area.
A 2015 study completed by the Radicati Group found that there are about 2.5 billion email users worldwide. That is almost a billion more people than the amount of citizens internationally who own a television, one of the more popular advertising agents, with the current number of television owners coming to about 1.6 billion. In a 2014 email survey by Marketing Sherpa, 92 percent of marketers reported that email produces or will eventually produce a positive return on investment for them.
Neil Berman, CEO of email marketing company Delivra, explains that it’s even logistically easier to track advertising attribution via email marketing versus television marketing. “If you run an advertisement on TV and someone buys your product, it’s hard to attribute or understand if that TV ad actually brought in the business,” he says. “Email is a one-to-one marketing vehicle and you can track everything precisely.”
The time of thinking that technology is destroying empathy is over. Email marketing provides a tool to propel an already guest-relation-centric industry to translating its hospitality from in person to online. Berman and his company’s Client Success Manager, Cassie Becker, have both personally experienced how email marketing can change a customer’s perspective on the business. Becker recently stayed at a hotel that maintained a high level of digital communication with her throughout her stay. “Before I checked in, they let me know my check-in date, what to expect, WiFi details, things like that,” she says. “Getting a little closer to when I was checking in, they let me know where parking was available, which was extremely helpful because my hotel was downtown where parking can be hard to find. When I checked in, they asked me to be a part of their free points system.”
Hotels now have to compete with one another in person and online, because every aspect of the stay affects the experience. In Berman’s case, a clear winner was found between his and Becker’s hotels when, to his dismay, the digital communication from his hotel during his most recent stay was silent. “Wherever Cassie stayed, they nailed it perfectly right. I guess the hotel I stayed at is just so busy, they don’t need to be nice to you.”
Digital personalization can be achieved through automated emails based on behavioral and demographic marketing. For example, if a customer was to receive an email and click on a link or maybe not even open it, a hotel could track that behavior and decide to either send a follow-up or nothing at all. Or, they could implement demographic data like a customer’s age, gender, and location to send out emails that would statistically appeal to them. If a user is middle-aged and there on business, an email concerning the hotel’s massage therapy or spa area would be a seemingly unintentional way to bring in business. “Those kind of things really connect to people,” says Berman. “Sometimes they’re subliminal, but what it’s saying to me as a recipient is, ‘Hey, they really understand me.’”
How do they do this? “Pixie dust. Magic,” says Berman with a laugh. “We put code on the web pages of the website and on landing pages, so we are collecting information from beyond the email.” Unlike the 007s of the cinematic world, all of this is done with permission from the user. By gauging a customer in this way, dynamically built content that is directed specifically toward the behavior of the recipient is possible.