Here at Zebulon, we serve growth-focused outfitters who have a deep passion for providing top-notch outdoor experiences. Well, isn’t it time those top-notch experiences extended to include the digital experiences bookending their outdoor excursion? Yep – you guessed it – today we’re talking about good old-fashioned emails.
In the Zebulon sphere, Corey is our business email whisperer. However, we decided to call in the big guns for specific and actionable tips for hard-hitting emails that give outfitters a spectacular return rate. So, we’re delighted to introduce guest author David Kunze of Tour Marketing Suite, who provided a list of the seven types of emails growth-focused outfitters should send their customers.
David is a marketing whiz with over 30 years of industry experience, and he’s also an MVP attendee of our monthly Groover Gab. His company provides digital marketing and software solutions exclusively for tour and activity providers, so he certainly knows a thing or two about getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to marketing emails.
A word from David:
If I told you today that you could invest $1 this month and get $38 back next month … would you do it? You’d probably ask if you could invest $10,000!
Well, that 38x return is what the value of email marketing can bring to your business. When done correctly, the low cost and high return of email marketing can substantially increase your overall revenue and profits, all while enhancing your outfit’s image.
I’ve outlined seven ways you can implement email marketing in your outfitter business. Utilizing marketing automation (or “MarTech”), most of these emails can be built one time, reused, and sent out automatically to customers.
The Seven Gold Standard Emails For Outfitters:
1. The Lead Magnet
The average ecommerce conversion rate for tours and activities is about 2%. This means 98% of visitors to your website don’t buy anything … today.
A lead magnet is an inducement you provide so that a guest gives you their email in return. It could be as simple as “Join our List & Save $5 Per Person,” or something a little more tailored, like “Top 5 Camp Sites for Families in [your region].”
When a customer opts in to a Lead Magnet, they give you permission to send them messages. This will give you multiple opportunities to bring them back to your website and create customers down the road.
2. The Post-Booking Email
As a society, we have become desensitized to confirmation emails – we see them in our inbox, we know exactly what they are, and we don’t even bother opening them. But … an email that comes 30 minutes after my confirmation email must be important!
Use a Post-Booking email to sell your guest a second adventure, lodge with you, or offer an upgrade they didn’t already know about. Post-Booking emails have a HUGE open rate, and can create a killer sales opportunity.
3. The Pre-Trip Email
Send a Pre-Trip email 1-3 days prior to the start of the trip. Use the Pre-Trip email to show a preview of what the experience will be, and provide guests with important reminders like packing tips, parking details, and more. YES – this email can help reduce your phone calls!
I recommend creating a second soft-sell for additional experiences in the Pre-Trip email. Most importantly, use a postscript in this email. After the subject line, a “P.S.” is the most completely read item of your email!
Example: “P.S. If you haven’t signed our waiver yet … it will save you time at check in. Fill yours out here!”
4. The Post-Trip Email
Now is your chance to thank your guest, ask them to leave you a positive review, contact you with any issues they may have had, tag you on social media, and ask them to join your mailing list (see next item!). The Post-Trip email reaffirms to your guest that you value them and appreciate their business, and it allows you to make one last connection immediately surrounding their experience. Again, if possible, use a postscript.
Example: “P.S. If you haven’t downloaded your photos yet, you can access them here!”
5. The Newsletter
For operators that have a high degree of return visitors, your past guest email list is money in the bank. A newsletter with regular frequency (i.e. monthly) is critical for businesses that have a lot of returning guests.
If your business has more of a “one-and-done” clientele, your regular newsletter is still a great way to communicate with your guests and their friends and family! If your business is less dependent on returning guests, you should still have a regular newsletter, but send it less frequently – like once a quarter.
6. Birthday, Anniversary & Reminder Emails
If your ResTech or waiver program collects important dates like birthdays, set up your email automation to send a “Happy Birthday” email to your past guests – and gift them with a discount code to book again!
You can also send “Trip Anniversary” emails with links to purchase photos, or just simply thank them again for being your guest.
7. The Gift Card
If you wait until November 15th to send guests their first email of the year, and it is an offer to buy a gift card … you’re too late.
Guests need to be nurtured throughout the year with emails, and if you’re only just starting to send them in November and December, you’ve missed your target (and possibly just ticked off your past customer).
If you’ve been nurturing your email list and guests all year, November is the time to strike with a gift card offer! Start with your guests that have purchased your gift cards in the past, and give them early access, then expand to the rest of your list.
The Bottom Line
If you’re new to email marketing, we recommend starting by implementing three crucial emails: the Post-Booking email, the Pre-Trip email, and the Post-Trip email. This will round out the customer experience immediately surrounding their trip, and set everyone up for success.
If you’ve been sending newsletters and marketing emails for years, and even if you’ve amassed a huge mailing list, chances are there’s at least one of David’s seven “Gold Standard” emails you haven’t implemented yet that could help you get closer to that gorgeous 38x return on investment.
Remember: you’re the experts at delivering excellent experiences, and we’re the experts at growing profitable businesses. So, believe us when we say that spending a little extra time nurturing your email list and automating templates goes a long way!