How do you use email marketing for your vacation rental business?
One important aspect of creating a vacation rental marketing plan for your business you should consider is email marketing.
The basic fundamentals of a vacation rental email marketing strategy follow the same path as email marketing for any product-based business or other online business.
The concept is to acquire an email address from a prospect who visits your website or follows you on social media and then provide details about your property and vacation experience through marketing messages that are delivered via an automated system with periodic informational newsletters.
Although email marketing should be a huge part of your overall book direct strategy, you do not have to have a website or direct booking software to use this tactic. All you need is an email marketing platform such as Mailchimp or Convert Kit with a landing page builder.
Steps To A Successful Vacation Rental Email Marketing Strategy
Creating an email marketing strategy is easier than it sounds and is really just a six-step repeated process. Once you have the system set up and working, you can continue to grow your email list and bookings as part of your overall book direct marketing strategy.
- “Ask” for an email address from website visitors and social media followers in exchange for some type of incentive you give. This is called a “lead magnet.”
- Send a welcome email automatically that introduces you and your brand
- “Drip” additional content over the next few days to encourage immediate bookings
- Add subscribers to a monthly newsletter list so when they are ready to plan a trip, you are top of mind.
- Evaluate your success by looking at subscriber rates, open rates, and conversion rates. Then optimize where necessary.
Step One: Build your email list with a “lead magnet”
Your lead magnet should be something of value to your “Perfect Guest Avatar” that they would use while planning their vacation. It should be specifically created for the people who are most likely to book your vacation rental rather than a general guide to the area. A generic lead magnet would be something like “join my newsletter list,” and a specific lead magnet would be “Five Ideas For A Romantic Getaway To Kelowna.”
Think about the benefit to your user and create something they would get immediate usage from. Brainstorm several ideas and ask your social media community and previous guests which ideas they would receive more benefit from.
Step 2: Create an automated “Welcome” email they receive immediately after subscribing
Once you have created your email marketing sign-up system, you need to set up automated emails to engage with your prospects. The first email in this system is called a “welcome email.”
The welcome email should include:
- A short introduction to you and your “why” (a video introduction would be great here, but text with an image is fine as well).
- A link to your lead magnet so they have it in their email.
- An introduction to your properties, describing the experience they would have rather than a layout or list of features.
- A review that shows the experience others have received or that notes your amazing hospitality, etc.
- A link to your calendar with a call to action.
- Any discounts or offers you may have.
- An invitation to reply to your email if they have questions or want more information.
- An invitation to follow you on social media with links.
Step 3: Drip additional emails out over the next week
Your email subscribers are planning a vacation, and now is the time to remind them of why they should book with you.
- One email in your series should talk about why they should book in advance or some other call to action about getting the best dates, the best rate, or the best season.
- One email should include some of your amenities that would appeal to them. Think about the amenities that make their experience amazing (steps from the beach, backyard fire pit, beach umbrella service, ski lift passes).
- One email should include countering objections they may have about booking with you. You can share five-star reviews, compare your book direct rate with the rate on VRBO for a similar property, and remind them of your secure booking form and payment processor. It’s important to build trust in your messaging.
- One email should include things to do in your area each season. Again, you should be thinking of the people who would enjoy your experience the most. The more congruent you can be in your messaging, the more impressed and satisfied your prospect will be with you.
- All emails should include a review, photos of your property, and button links to book or check the calendar.
Step 4: Add subscribers (and previous guests with permission) to a monthly newsletter list
Unfortunately, your subscribers may not book immediately. Most people will require a few more touchpoints before they are ready to trust you and spend money with you. But if they haven’t “unsubscribed” from your marketing list they are stills showing interest. At this point you want to stay top of mind – so when they are planning that vacation in your destination they won’t have to ask themselves where they should stay.
Every newsletter should include upcoming events in your area and ideas for things to do, a review, a great photo that inspires their vacation dreams, a link to a recent blog or social media post, and a call to action to book now!
It’s important that your newsletter be sent consistently at about the same time every month. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you should only send out emails when you need bookings – you want to provide great information that continually reminds them about your business.
Your vacation rental email marketing strategy includes some advance planning. Use a calendar or spreadsheet to determine the best topics for each month, find your best reviews, share your best photos or use stock photos to build desire. Just like any other tactic, once you have a plan and formula down it becomes easier.
Step 5: Evaluate each step of your system to optimize and improve
Nothing really works the first time you do it. Those are the rules of business. Vacation rental email marketing is no different – you should track your data and use it to improve your system. Sometimes this takes time. If you need help evaluating your systems, reach out to me for a one-one consultation to help!
- Track the conversion rate of your lead magnet to evaluate if it is something your prospects are interested in.
- Track your open rates when you send your welcome series. You might want to split test your subject lines.
- Track the link clicks in your emails. Are your calls to action clear and easily seen?
- Track your unsubscribes – are people bored with your content?
The difference between email marketing and guest nurturing
Vacation rental Email marketing sells your properties, destination, and experience to those people who have never booked with you before (or in some cases, repeat guests who may want to plan another vacation with you).
Guest nurturing is when you have a booked guest and want to provide them with exceptional customer service to get them excited about their upcoming trip.
Two different things. Both important. Both can be almost completely automated.
Vacation rental email marketing works when you work it
Just like any new marketing tactic, email marketing can be overwhelming at first, but staying consistent and starting small is the key to success.
I encourage you to set up a Mailchimp or Convert Kit account (you need a paid account to set up a landing page and automation) and get started creating a lead magnet. Then set up just one or two emails in your first automated series.