Congratulations, you’ve built up a pretty impressive email database for your hotel full of past and potential guests. Now you have a magic light saber that will fill your rooms with just a click of a few buttons… but something is wrong. It seems that for every new address you add, you’re losing two. Why is that?
Why are customers leaving your hotel email database? It comes down to one salient point:
You are failing your guests and potential guests by not giving them what they want. Your email marketing is both not effective and also alienating your guests.
This is no doubt very bad news. The good news, however, is that we are going to dig into why you are failing and give you some simple tips to make your hotel emails become your number one conversion source. As we begin, it is important to remember that all these recommendations are generalized. Every email database acts differently, has different success metrics, and different thresholds for abandonment. You will want to take these recommendations and look at them from your unique email marketing perspective.
Unsub Reason #1: You’re Sending Way Too Much
This is the number one reason people are unsubscribing from your emails. You’re hitting them on the head over and over again with multiple emails per month, perhaps even multiple per week.
There is no hard and fast rule for the volume to send; you will need to experiment and find the right frequency. We have found if you are a single hotel, you can see great performance with a single send per month. In rare cases, we have seen weekly emails work, but you have to make sure the information you are sharing is well worth it.
The solution: Stop sending so much and start testing. Go to a single send per month and see if your unsubscribe rate falls down below a 0.1% rate. While you are doing this, closely monitor your analytics to see how this change impacts your revenue from email. If there’s no impact to your bottom line, a congratulations is in order. If your revenue drops, start testing a slightly higher frequency until you find the happy medium.
Unsub Reason #2: Your Content Is… Meh
Guess what people do to boring people and boring companies… That’s right, they ignore them or, in your case, unsubscribe.
You did an incredible thing by getting someone to subscribe to your email list. They wanted great deals, helpful content, inspiring photography. What they wanted was for you to give them a reason to visit your property. Instead, you delivered vanilla content that didn’t help and made them fall asleep.
The good news is, people don’t unsubscribe the 1st time they get a lackluster email; in fact, it takes a while for most consumers to pull the unsubscribe trigger. The bad news is, if you are getting unsubscribes for this reason, you probably have been boring them for a long time.
The solution: Over deliver on your emails and make sure you are linking to content on your site that really is as valuable as you proclaim. Give the customer a mix of great articles, news, events, and, of course, great deals. You can monitor your click-through rates and see what is and is not working. If you find that people are opening but no one is clicking, that’s a warning sign that you’re not giving the guest the information they want and they will eventually unsubscribe.
To make this work you are going to have to invest time in producing great content. Great content is what engages guests and you’ll find that an investment here pays big dividends.
Unsub Reason #3: You Offered One Thing And Delivered Another
Guests don’t like to be tricked. If they think they are going to be getting exclusive personalized deals & trip planning information like you said on your email signup forms and end up just getting the same deals as everyone else, they’re going to leave.
The solution: Treat your email subscribers like what they are – gold. Always over deliver on your original opt-in promises. You can do this in a variety of ways, including:
- Exclusive deals: You’ve already gotten your potential guest interested, now give them a little extra discount or free welcome gift for booking.
- Personalization: This one is email marketing 101. We know response rates improve when we use personal information in an email such as their name, previous room, etc.
- Contests: Make it fun and worthwhile to stay on the list. Consider a monthly giveaway for anyone who opens and clicks on a message. Something small like a hotel shirt, koozie, or gift card always work well.
Unsub Reason #4: You’re Sending to People Who Should Never Have Been On The List
Bet you felt pretty fancy getting the list of trade show attendees and putting them in your hotel’s email database. The problem is, they don’t know that they are now subscribed and are not going to be very happy to start getting your weekly message. Adding people who do not opt in is not only diluting the value of your list, but can also cause a lot of trouble. Canada has already put in place very strict spam laws (CASL) and has been fining companies that send unsolicited emails, There’s no doubt that the US will also be putting more teeth behind the aging CAN-SPAM laws as well.
The solution: Adopt the best practices for email delivery by clearly opting in subscribers on the site and sending a welcome message to every new subscriber. Ideally you will have a double opt-in policy where a subscriber must respond to a confirmation email to be included in your list. This is not required yet in the US and we are not seeing hotels adopt this widely… yet. At the very least, stop sending to anyone on your list that didn’t have an explicit opt-in.
Unsub Reason #5: You Gave Them No Other Choice
The number 5 reason people unsubscribe from your hotel’s emails is the most unfortunate of them all. You gave them no other choice! We would all like to think our guests want to receive our emails 365 days a year and always have a bag packed by the door just in case we come up with the right deal. However, in most cases, guests only want your message when they are in the planning cycle.
If you are not giving guests the opportunity to take a break from receiving emails or adjust the frequency of emails, you are setting yourself up for an unsubscribe. And, odds are, if they unsubscribe, you’ll never get the back on your list.
The solution: Ask your guests what they want and adapt your sending frequency based on their needs. Our retail friends are experts at this strategy. Just try to unsubscribe from your favorite retailer and see what happens. In the case of Bonobos.com, when you try to unsubscribe, they prompt you with several options to change your email frequency. This works great to keep inactive subscribers on your list.
The two surefire solutions you can put in place are:
- Prompt users to adjust their sending frequency during the unsubscribe process.
- Adjust sending frequency on inactive subscribers on your own. If a guest hasn’t opened your email in over a year, stop sending to them so frequently and create a list with a much lower frequency, such as one a month or even once a quarter.
There you have it – the top 5 reasons people are unsubscribing from your hotel emails. Take these tips, clean up those lists, and get creative with your hotel email strategy!
Want to know more? Be sure to check out our Hotel Marketing Podcast episode on Email Marketing For Hotels.