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We write a lot about how effective email marketing can be for driving in revenue, building brand loyalty, and improving customer retention for your business. But opportunity is what you make of it and the truth is, you won’t see any of the impressive results that have made email marketing legendary if you don’t optimize your email marketing campaigns for conversions.

Consumers in each industry seek different, unique things—that’s probably no surprise to you—and they also seek unique things from every email marketing campaign. That means that what makes an email campaign successful in the retail industry might not translate well to an email marketing campaign in the travel industry (and sometimes not even to another retail email campaign).

The first step to creating successful email marketing, then, is to understand who your audience is. Only when you know what exactly your customers need from you can you deliver that right to your subscribers’ inboxes.

These days, consumers have plenty of places they can go to book hotels and flights, find restaurants, and discover the hottest spots in a new city. In order to drive traffic to your website or business and convince prospects to convert with you, your brand needs to stand out.

Email roundup: The best travel email marketing campaigns

And the best way to stand out in 2019? Anticipate what your subscribers are looking for and then deliver it. These days, consumers seek authentic connection with their favorite companies. Consumers know that companies collect data, and they expect companies to use that data to deliver a more-targeted, personalized experience.

But knowing what you want your email marketing campaigns to do and actually accomplishing it are two different things. So we’ve uncovered the best email marketing campaigns from across the travel industry and gathered them here in this roundup.

Read on to discover the best travel email marketing campaigns and how you can adopt these best practices to see your best results from a marketing campaign yet.

1. T + L Destination of the Week travel email

One of the challenges of email marketing is getting people to read your message in its entirety. Truthfully, most people skim their inboxes and, if they decide to open one, their emails: while in line for coffee, during their commute, killing time while waiting for friends. In order for your emails to be effective, they need to be easily understood at a glance.

This email from Travel + Leisure does exactly that. Despite the fact that this message is packed full of good information, it’s still easy for their audience to skim and then click or tap the most relevant links.

Travel and Leisure travel email roundup

The whitespace in this design makes it easy to spot the calls-to-action and keeps a packed email from becoming overwhelming. In an industry where images can encourage conversions, piquing people’s interest and curiosity, including relevant graphics is necessary, but too many can distract from one another as well as the CTAs, making the pictures—and as a result, your email—less effective.

But this email avoids those problems by keeping the images and CTAs clearly contained and differentiated by providing ample amounts of whitespace.

This email also anticipates one of the most annoying aspects of travel: having to scour website after website gathering information about their destination. Travel + Leisure offers their subscribers everything they need to book a fun and exciting trip to Venice, including where to stay, what to do, and even the latest news from the area.

After reading this email, you can bet subscribers will open the next one to discover what destination Travel + Leisure is spotlighting. Furthermore, next time a subscriber wants to plan a trip, they’ll have Travel + Leisure at the top of their mind and head to the website to see what they can discover.  

2. Scott’s Cheap Flights travel email

Scott’s Cheap Flights provides updates on, you guessed it, cheap flight prices. Members can pick their region and Scott’s Cheap Flights will keep them apprised of great flight deals through email. But they don’t just send alerts through email. They also regularly send subscriber success stories.

Scott's Cheap Flights Travel email roundup

These success stories share feedback Scott’s Cheap Flights has received from happy customers likes these. User-generated content (UGC) like this saves your marketing team time and energy—especially when your marketing team is just you—and builds trust with your subscribers.

These days, 84% of people trust online reviews as they trust their own friends. When you share the great experiences of satisfied customers, you’re not just asking prospects to trust you or take you at your word. You’re proving to them your services or products are worth their investment.

User-generated content also allows you to spend less energy creating your own content. Instead, you take the feedback your customers send you and publish that the way Scott’s Cheap Flights does. Their customers even include images to keep subscribers reading. That means that the marketing team doesn’t have to spend time coming up with new content. Instead, your team has content already waiting at their fingertips. Spend a little time creating the email (which is simple if you’re using an email service provider that uses templates) and proofreading, and your next email campaign is ready to go.

This user-generated content also makes a great addition to a welcome series, building trust with your new subscribers by showing them the ways other satisfied customers have made your products and services work for them.

Plus, user-generated content keeps your satisfied customers engaged with your brand even when they aren’t in the market to buy. When customers see you share their images and stories, they become emotionally invested in your brand. Just like in any relationship, if people like your brand, they’ll like you even more when they know you’re listening to them.

3. Lonely Planet travel email

Lonely Planet is well-known for their travel guides that can be found online as well as in physical books. They offer in-depth knowledge about various destinations and have information to help even the most experienced travelers.

Lonely Planet travel email roundup.

This email offers a few CTAs that will drive subscribers to their website. From various articles to a sale on their guides, this email has something for everyone on their subscriber list.

But even so, it’s clear that this email has a primary CTA that stands out among the rest of the information provided here. The first headline in the email is the story promised in the subject line “10 romantic getaways for city lovers.” Lonely Planet doesn’t make their readers read the full email until they find the headline that caught their eye, which is important when you can’t be sure your subscribers will read the whole email.

The promised article is front and center, and so is the CTA. As you can see, the CTA for this article is centered on the page while the other CTAs are left-justified. This is a small distinction, but it’s enough to ensure “we heart cities” has a stronger emphasis than the others. Similarly, this CTA features blue with white text which stands out on the otherwise white email. The other CTAs use blue text on a white button, which doesn’t stand out quite as much. This emphasis ensures that the primary CTA is clear and won’t result in your subscribers being overwhelmed with too many choices, even when you include more than one or two CTAs.

4. Condé Nast Traveler travel email

Condé Nast Traveler sends a daily email newsletter to their subscriber list featuring some of the best stories they’ve published.

Conde Nast Traveler travel email roundup

The first thing a subscriber notices when opening this email. This particular email, sent on Christmas day, features content that is timely and relevant to their readers. The first stories all have a Christmas theme to them, from “What the North Pole Actually Looks Like at Christmas” to a story on Christmas Island.

When you send a newsletter every single day, it’s important to provide your subscribers with incentive to open your emails day after day. Condé Nast Traveler accomplishes this by ensuring their content is timely and relevant.

They also provide a very brief sentence that further encourages their subscribers to click through to their website to read more. For instance, a reader filled with holiday spirit will probably be tempted to read more after seeing the short teaser telling them about reindeer and polar bears.

This email from Condé Nast Traveler also provides a great example for the ways whitespace ensures every image has the maximum effect on your readers. These images wouldn’t be as striking or as compelling if they ran together. Instead, placing them all in the midst of whitespace is almost like placing each image under a spotlight.

5. AFAR travel email

AFAR is a multi-media travel brand that has a website as well as a physical publication. They offer readers city guides as well as publish stories that make traveling and connecting with cultures easier.

Afar travel email roundup

This is another example of how to cram your emails full of information without overwhelming your readers. Though it includes pretty much everything a person needs to know when planning a trip to Venice—including a helpful tidbit about addresses that will keep their subscribers in the know before they even land—this email remains easy to navigate and easy to understand. Far from being overwhelming, the wealth of information provided here makes this email from AFAR highly-valuable to their readers. Not only are subscribers likely to save this email—whether they’re currently planning a trip or only hope to plan a trip to Venice—they’re also more likely to visit AFAR’s website and check out their other guides for a different destination.

The focus of this email isn’t on what AFAR can gain from their subscribers, but rather the focus is on what value AFAR can deliver to their subscribers. The information they provide benefits the subscriber far more than it does AFAR. The email doesn’t push a hard sell, trying to get subscribers to buy their magazine or anything else from the company. Instead, the email is all about how they can help their fans be better, more informed travelers.

6. AirBnB travel email

AirBnB sends email marketing campaigns to their hosts as well as their guests. In order to provide these two distinct and very different groups with only the emails they want to receive, AirBnB segments their subscribers into different lists, making emails like this one more powerful.

AirBnB Email Travel email roundup

Source: Really Good Emails

This email wouldn’t be relevant to hosts, who are probably already aware of what their city has to offer around the holidays. By segmenting, AirBnB ensures that only their guests—and if they’re segmenting well, only the guests who have expressed interest in New York City—receive this email.

Additionally, this newsletter from AirBnB goes above and beyond in order to provide their users with not just information on homes, but also on what experiences they can be having. Providing curated content helps your brand become more than just a site to book a hotel or a place to stay. AirBnB becomes a resource for their users.

Wrap up

You can incorporate these best practices in newsletters, behavior-based emails, and even confirmation emails in order to see improved results. But these tips can do far more than just get your emails opened and read. Solid email marketing can drive revenue and improve the reach of your brand.

In order to craft emails that stand out from the rest, find ways to include these tips and tricks into your next travel email marketing campaign:

  • Use whitespace to make emails easy to digest on the go and keep your images impactful.
  • Make your emails a one-stop shop for planning their next trip in order to save your subscribers from what can be a rabbit hole online.
  • User-generated content can help your marketing team do more with less effort and builds trust with your subscribers.
  • Defining one primary CTA through small, easy distinctions will help your emails perform and keep your subscribers from getting confused.
  • Provide a short teaser to encourage your subscribers to click through to your website to read more.
  • Include relevant and timely content, especially when you send emails frequently.
  • Focus your emails on helping your subscribers and you’ll see fewer unsubscribes and more conversions, even without the hard sell.
  • Curated content means your brand will become a resource for your users instead of just a place to shop.

Putting your subscribers’ needs first and foremost will not only earn you paying customers, but you’ll also gain brand ambassadors, those people who tell their friends about your company and how you’ve changed the travel game.

Especially in a saturated market, email marketing provides the perfect opportunity for you to nurture the relationship you have with customers as well as prospects in order to gain their trust, loyalty, and ultimately, their business.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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