Sending the right emails at the right time to potential customers is a sure way to boost the number of sales you make. Email is by far the most effective way to reach out both to existing customers as well as new ones. One of the biggest mistakes that travel providers make is not using email effectively. My guess is that if you are not using the strategies covered in this blog post you’re probably leaving sales that could have been closed on the table.
Over 50% of companies take at least 24 hours to respond to customer inquiries or emails. This is way too long! You should aim to respond to new inquires within an hour and to other emails within four hours and if you can do it faster it’s even better. If you’re a small business owner this probably means answering all your emails several times a day including right when you wake up and just before you go to sleep.
Remember your customers are probably engaging with other tour operators and not just you. Responding fast not only builds trust it creates a dialogue. The more time a potential customer invests in sending emails to you the more likely they will book.
The best emails give a lot of information clearly and in as few words as possible. You only have a matter of seconds to engage a potential customer. If your email is lengthy and confusing you probably just killed your chances at a sell. The key is to answer the customer’s potential questions as clearly and as briefly as possible. For example, if your listing all your inclusions maybe you can skip those that are less meaningful like the complimentary bottle of water. If you are describing an itinerary do you really need to have a paragraph on each day?
Short well formatted emails with relevant details work best.
Proper Presentation and Formatting
A recent study by Hubspot showed that nothing boosts opens and clicks as well as an old school, plain-text email. The take home message here is to keep it simple. That said I have seen lots of poorly formatted plain text emails that go overboard with different colors of text, bolding and different fonts. Keep it clean and simple to read.
Follow-up Emails are Key
Average rates of email opens are around 15% so even if your email is perfect, chances are that no one will ever look at it. According to Yesware an email tracking service 70% of businesses never send a follow-up email. By sending several follow-up emails you can probably double or even triple the number of responses you get. My suggestion is to track all your leads on spreadsheet so that you can easily see which leads need email follow-ups. I suggest scheduling follow-ups at 3 days, 7 days, 15 days and 30 days. If you have not received any response after a month you can give up.
Save Time with Templates
If you send a lot of emails odds are that you send the same thing over and over again. It pays to spend the time to create some great templates. You can save templates right in Gmail or you can use a service like Yesware that integrates into Gmail. One advantage of using a service like Yesware is that you can easily A/B test different templates and see which ones gets a better response rate. I also suggest you collect all of your customer’s common questions and create templates for each so that you can more quickly follow-up.
It’s fine to use templates but you still need to personalize each email. The first tip here is to make sure you spell the customer’s name properly. Beyond that make sure you address any specific concerns or questions near the front of the email so that the customer knows right away that you have taken some time and effort. No one wants to respond to an email template so make sure it does not feel like one.
Track Email Opens
Are you emails getting opened? One of the best ways to track this is to use a service like Yesware or Toutapp. They both offer free trails and limited use accounts which are probably ok for most travel providers who don’t send a lot of emails. Both of these applications add a bit of code into your email that the customer can’t see but allow you to know when and where the email was opened. This is extremely valuable since you can learn which customer have not read your email or you might follow up again by telephone right after they open an email since you know they are interested at that point in time. Figuring out the right way to use this data takes sometime but it is an extremely valuable sales tool.
Know Your Customers
Another great tool to use is Rapportive. Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. Probably the most useful information that Rapportive pulls is the Linkedin profile which you can use to learn about your potentials clients’ job and position. For example, if you know you are sending an email to a top manager at a high profile company you know immediately that it’s probably better to customize your offering and focus on convenience and service as opposed to price.
Create a Great Footer
Last but not least is the footer of your email. I suggest creating a template for this in Gmail. Include information about your company website, contact details and your own LinkedIn profile. Remember, your footer is secondary. If you are writing simple text emails you don’t want to have a footer with so many graphics that it will catch more attention than your actual email.
Build Your Email List
This post has focused on individual sales emails. I am going to be writing another post shortly that will cover mass emails. In the meantime, I will just mention to save all your emails along with names and whether the person booked in a spreadsheet so you can start building your own email list for marketing.
Do you have any of your own great tips on making sales via email? Feel free to share them or any questions you might have in the comments below.