The incredible return on investment achieved through email marketing means that a vacation rental company’s email subscriber list is one of its most valuable marketing resources. Although most companies focus almost exclusively on growing their subscriber lists, it’s equally important to keep those lists healthy; sending “batch and blast” emails to unresponsive subscribers is an unnecessary expense that hurts deliverability reputation.
What can indicate that a mailing list needs a tune-up?
To determine if an email subscriber list needs attention, keep an eye on email open rates. If open rates decrease over time, it’s likely the result of a poor deliverability reputation. Internet service providers (ISPs) monitor email open rates to determine a sender’s reputation: low open rates indicate uninterested subscribers and increase the chance that future emails will be sent directly to spam. With a greater number of emails going to spam, open rates decrease even further, and deliverability reputation continues to suffer. If you take no steps to improve the situation, you’ll be spending money to send emails that have increasingly lower chances of ever arriving in an inbox.
Use segmentation to get an unhealthy email list back into shape
The simplest way to increase open rates is by providing relevant content to the right subscribers. Be strategic and send personalized emails to segments of your list most likely to respond. Using the two types of list segmentation described below to send targeted emails not only improves deliverability reputation but also keeps brand content in front of the people who truly care, improves return on investment, and increases conversions.
Segmentation based on booking behavior
The reservation data in a vacation rental company’s property management software (PMS) are a vital source of information for creating targeted email campaigns. By using an API that populates an email list with data gleaned from a PMS, it’s possible to tap into an almost unlimited array of segmentation options. “Reservation integration” provides information on new, canceled, or updated reservations and—because it happens in real time—results in a literal up-to-the-moment list.
Using a list that highlights past booking behavior, you can target guests most likely to be interested in specific properties.
Have properties still available during spring break when rates are at a premium? Send an email to past guests who’ve booked during spring break sometime in the past three years. Have a new, pet-friendly, two-bedroom property available starting in June? Send an email to past guests with pets who have booked a two-bedroom home during the summer season.
The targeting possibilities are endless, and the open rates are certain to climb.
Segmentation based on engagement
Another invaluable common denominator with which to divide an email list is subscriber engagement. Engagement segments place subscribers into categories based on the level at which they’ve interacted with your email marketing in the past. Using engagement segments to create email campaigns improves deliverability by gradually weeding out unengaged subscribers and abandoned email addresses while offering interested subscribers a chance to continue hearing from your brand.
The six engagement segments range from Active (subscriber has opened or clicked on an email within 30 days) to Ghost (in the 12 months since the first email was sent, the subscriber has never opened or clicked on an email). At the top end, Active and Engaged subscribers are already paying attention to your marketing message. At the bottom, Ghosts should be purged from the list on a quarterly basis. But what about the three remaining segments (Unengaged, Dormant, and Zombie)?
An example of an automated email designed to target Unengaged, Dormant, and Zombie subscribers might have a subject line of “Where’ve You Been?” or “We’ve Missed You” as the content theme. Any subscriber who opens the email is automatically moved to the Active segment.
If, in particular, you’re interested in either reengaging or bidding farewell to Zombies, try a more straightforward subject such as “Hey, Do You Still Want to Hear from Us?” and include an unsubscribe button in the body of the email. Be proactive; give uninterested subscribers the option to opt out before they mark unwanted messages as spam.
A healthy email subscriber list is key to any successful email marketing plan. Sending targeted emails to specifically chosen list segments keeps open rates high, deliverability reputation in good standing, subscribers engaged, and email marketing campaigns successful.