As consumer travel spending begins to slowly rebound, travel marketers are shifting more of their advertising dollars toward interactive channels such as email marketing in order to maximize ROI and engage vacationers carefully researching for the best deals. As a result, Silverpop®, the world's only provider of both email marketing and marketing automation solutions specifically tailored to the unique needs of B2C and B2B marketers, has helped new and existing tourism clients expand their programs and more effectively engage with their audiences.
According to a recent survey conducted by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association, 53 percent of U.S. adults plan to take at least one overnight, leisure trip before April 2010. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed will look for deals on the Internet before booking their travel.
"Tourists have more choices and more sources of information about those choices than ever before," said Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey. "Tourist-oriented marketing programs require constant monitoring and tweaking to remain effective, and that's much easier to do with email than with other marketing channels."
Among tourism companies now taking advantage of email marketing's power to engage with customers is eBrains, an online marketing firm with a focus on travel and tourism. Sixty percent of eBrains' travel-industry clients increased their email marketing budgets in 2009, with similar numbers expected in 2010.
"Email marketing delivers the highest ROI for our travel and tourism clients," said Matthew Gordon, chief online brain at eBrains. "It is a versatile channel that can be used strategically for brand building and tactically to promote special offers and events."
Successful tactics for eBrains' clients have included the distribution of frequent but highly relevant newsletters as well as targeted promotions and special offers. Both techniques have helped organizations better engage with customers and prospects, and have yielded impressive results. For example, an incredibly successful promotion for the "2009 Festival of Blossoms" developed by eBrains for Door County Wisconsin's Convention and Visitor's Bureau included a special eCard that generated a click thru rate of 39 percent.
"In this economy, spontaneous weekend getaways have been replaced by excursions that are well thought out and carefully researched in order to secure the best deal," added Gordon. "This makes email an even more important tool for our tourism clients as they are able to make travelers' jobs a bit easier by providing them with timely updates about special packages that just might entice them to go ahead and book that trip."
Another Silverpop client, Atlanta-based Georgia Aquarium, drives half-a-million dollars in online ticket sales annually via email. It sends monthly e-newsletters, news and event updates, and special offers to its more than 620,000 Aquarium aficionados. Over the past few years, the Aquarium has worked closely with Silverpop's Strategic Services group on both general email strategy and specific campaigns to build its email marketing program.
"When the Aquarium first opened, the strategy was to deliver as much information to as many people as possible very quickly," said Kristie Cobb Hacke, vice president, development & membership, Georgia Aquarium. "After the initial rush of excitement, it became necessary to begin crafting and delivering targeted messages to keep people engaged."
To expand the influence of email marketing, Silverpop also worked with East Coast, a leading UK rail company who service the travel needs of more than 17 million passengers in England and Scotland, to help spread the company's message through social networks.
"Simply placing social network links in our emails allowed us to reach a whole new set of potential customers," said Sara Borland, brand and communications controller East Coast. "In a recent ‘one-way fares' campaign, hundreds of customers shared the offer on their social networking pages on Digg, Facebook and MySpace. Seventeen percent of posted links garnered at least one open, and 33 percent who opened a post then clicked. These are people we may never have reached otherwise."
The Society of London Theatre, the trade association that represents the producers, theater owners and managers of the major commercial and grant-aided theaters in central London, has also had enormous success using targeted email campaigns for subscribers in different age groups. "Using an age-centric subject line, we managed to double average open rates for subscribers in the 16-to-26 age group," said Philippa Salvoni, head of publishing, Society of London Theatre.
Silverpop's Engagement Marketing suite helps turn prospects into customers, and customers into fans. Silverpop's Web-based solutions enable companies worldwide to build relationships with customers and prospects through the creation, automation and delivery of relevant, online messaging. And Silverpop's strategic counsel, service and support helps clients with the precise level of training and advice needed to quickly improve campaign results and ROI. With offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia, Silverpop's engagement marketing technologies are used by industry-leading brands around the globe. Best practices and white papers are available at silverpop.com/.
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