Did you know, on average, people need to see information seven times before they’ll make a decision?
You’ve got compelling content targeted at your visitor personas posted on your website, but how in the world do you get it in front of them seven times, so they’ll come visit your destination, attraction or property? It’s not as hard as you might think - you need an automated email workflow.
Don’t let us lose you. We promise it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
An automated email workflow is simply a way to take those who have shown interest in your destination or brand and guide them through a series of touchpoints (including emails) to ultimately planning a trip or buying a product. It’s a process that takes some work in setting up. But once put in place, mail software like Hubspot, MailChimp or Constant Contact can automate the process, allowing you to focus on other things while your workflow converts potential visitors into real travelers.
Let’s see how it works.
Capture Emails with Gated Premium Content
If you already have a robust and, potentially untapped email list, that’s a great place to start. However, as those in tourism know, hooking new potential visitors is key.
The first stage in any email workflow is capturing email addresses.
You may already have a newsletter sign up button on your website, but in order to incentivize sign ups, you should offer “gated” premium content.
Think of gated premium content as something that has enough value that a visitor would share their contact information with you in order to download it or receive it in the mail, but not something so valuable you’ll be losing money by giving it away in exchange for information. For many travel destinations, that content is a visitor guide, but it could also be a trail guide, a walking tour map with an itinerary or a special discount.
Setting Up an Effective Form
After you’ve created your premium content, you’ll want to make a web page with a request form: a “landing page.” The sole purpose of a landing page is to get the visitor to complete an action. In this case, it is to fill out a form with his or her contact information.
What questions should you ask on your form? It’s a tough balancing act. Asking for too much information will discourage some people from filling out the form. They will weigh the value of the premium content with the payment of giving out their personal contact information. At the very least, ask for an email address and have a required checkbox to opt into email from you. If you are mailing information, you obviously need to ask for a mailing address. Here are some other fields you may want to consider:
If you ask for a name, you can personalize emails with that name.
If you ask for the visitor’s country, you can segment international visitors from domestic. This can also help you comply with foreign country email laws.
If you ask questions about travel interests or season of visit, you may risk losing subscribers due to a long form, but you can use these questions to help you create a more sophisticated workflow.
Create a Workflow
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could send a personalized thank-you email to every new subscriber? Or send them curated content based on how long ago they signed up?
What about, if you could do all of that while you were, say, in a meeting, getting other important work done, or even relaxing at home?
Sounds too good to be true, right?
It’s not - that’s the beauty of email automation!
Once you’ve captured a potential visitor’s email address, it’s time to convince him or her to come visit with an automated email workflow. You have two choices for this: a basic, automated workflow that each new subscriber receives or a targeted nurture campaign based on the subscriber’s interests and actions. In this article, we're deep-diving into automated workflows.
Setting Up an Automated Workflow
Setting up a basic, automated workflow on your email software like MailChimp or Constant Contact is easy.
- Decide on the frequency and duration of the workflow. How many emails do you want to send, and how often?
- Craft a welcome email, providing a link to, or the mailing information on, your gated content. Use their name and any other information you collected in order to personalize it. For instance, you can create an email to autofill so it reads, “Sue, get ready for the trip of a lifetime to San Francisco this summer.”
- Ask yourself what is your goal? If you run a visitor bureau, your goal is likely to increase awareness of your destination. Do this by providing links to your website with compelling planning information and content. If you are a hotel or guiding company, your goal may be to increase bookings. Do this by providing more information on your offering, testimonials and special offers.
- Provide the subscriber with your premium content, likely a brochure or visitor guide. Offer links to basic planning or decision making information such as, “How early should I make reservations?,” “Where is the closest airport?,” “Which season should I visit?” or any other questions that you get asked repeatedly.
- Wait a few days. You may have to do some testing to see what works best, but generally we see over 70% of our audience plan trips at least six months out, so your workflow doesn’t need to happen very quickly.
- Consider scheduling an email three days later, two weeks later, one month later and two months later. In each of these following emails, you can include more and more compelling and detailed content.
If your goal is to increase awareness and visitation to your destination, you’ll want to think through your visitors’ planning process. Early on, you may want to share things like beautiful photo galleries and compelling local stories. Later in the workflow, you may want to share more specifics, like the best trails in the area, day-trips nearby and a guide on seasonal wildflowers.
If your goal is to increase bookings or purchases, you may want to start with a small discount or special offer, along with relevant information like nearby national parks and museums, information on local dining, or a list of upcoming events. Farther down the workflow, you can increase your discounts or offers to be more appealing.
Eventually, you may want to move the subscriber onto your main newsletter list, so they start to receive your newsletter.
Once you've completed these steps, you can set up an automated workflow in your email software and sit back and relax while automation moves potential visitors down the workflow.
If you’re feeling excited about automating your email workflow to increase conversions, but don’t have the technology or bandwidth to tackle it right now, we can help. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help you set up your workflow before travel season hits.