E-mail Strategies & Tactics Exposed: Expedia.com
After being a road warrior for so long, my loyalty account offers over the past few years have been filled to the rim. While these promotions always sound enticing, who has the time to travel? Who wants to travel after being on the road so much? And who could ever redeem those so-called “free” nights and airline tickets? If you want to plan a vacation during the kids’ school breaks — good luck.
Navigating blackout dates and finding rewards points availability were virtually impossible. Well that’s all changed. Given the weakness in business travel and the current recession, the travel industry is struggling with bookings, so it’s offering better deals. And this has made email marketing all that more important.
For airlines, hotels and third-party travel booking sites, email marketing and communication optimization can make or break them — now more than ever. As a result, many are dialing up frequency and relevance. However, the most sophisticated, like Expedia.com, are going a step further. They’re building fully automated lifecycle communications closely tied to events and behaviors to create an experience and keep their customers engaged and coming back for more.
Expedia.com's comprehensive program
Expedia.com has one of the most sophisticated email marketing programs in the industry. The e-mail featured in my column this month is one in a series of 10 communications that followed a hotel booking on Expedia.com. It included the following:
- relevant and prepopulated traveler tools to encourage additional bookings;
- one-click access to account and reservation information;
- helpful associated content including links to local experts and advice related to the trip; and
- the opportunity to further personalize email preferences and communications.
- Add to address book/click to view email. Encourage recipients to add their addresses to the address book to further assure inbox delivery.
- Dial up community and participation content. Include expert and review feeds relevant to individuals' itineraries to encourage engagement and deeper interactions.
- Embrace the social web. Give users the ability share their itineraries with family and friends via e-mail, and post their trip adviser reviews and travel stories on their social networks/profiles or content-sharing sites.
- Experimental design and frequency caps. Leverage A/B testing and/or experimental design techniques to optimize creative templates and reduce the number of “next stay” incentive offers. Expedia also should avoid multiple mailings on the same day.
Michael Della Penna is co-founder and executive chairman of The Participatory Marketing Network (PMN), a new industry association dedicated to helping marketers transition from push and permission marketing to participatory marketing. Reach Michael at email@example.com