Where should your Marketing efforts and Dollars be going for 2019. Having seen dropping Email opens and click throughs in the first 5 months of 2019, I decided to deep dive and see what is working for whom. Don’t get me wrong, Email Marketing still delivers the best ROI, for every 1$ you put in it delivers $40 in value (Source:Lyfemarketing)
Now all this is fine, but how are the trends changing, As an example we have seen a drop in our Email Open rates for Bigfoot Marketing even though the drop has been marginal but all changes in trends start with such minor drops which over 5-6 months to a year would become Major. So where should your Marketing dollar go.
First we need to understand who your audience is as each audience bracket has a different need and should be targeted differently. I have in my course of doing this research discovered that we largely cater to 4 different age groups
- Age Group 01: 60+ years of Age.
- Age Group 02: 45-60 years of Age.
- Age Group 03: 30-45 years of Age.
- Age Group 04: 20-30 Years of Age.
Age Group 01: These are the Customers who prefer to use the traditional Travel Agent, these would be your customers who still make time to visit the Travel Agency, still want to chat with someone and would usually be looking for more in terms of Traditional Luxury. The Preferred Marketing channel for them still remains a Brochure and to some extent Email. Make sure that they are in your Email Database. These are your very Loyal Customers.
Age Group 02: These are the customers who understand modern day Marketing and are comfortable with online and offline both. Having grown up in an offline world and now working in an Online world. These are your clients who would usually email you and call you, maybe even drop in once in a while before booking. They are definitely your Email Marketing clients. Targeting them on Facebook would help you with lead generation. These are the customers who are most likely to share their email address. These are your 4-5 star clients looking for a healthy mix of relaxation and culture on Holidays since the Kids in most cases are grown up. They are fairly loyal to you, these are the ones who always give you the chance to match the rates.
Age Group 03: These are your Customers who prefer being targeted on Social media channels, are comfortable to communicate with you on Email, Whatsapp, Facebook Messengers and chat bots. They are very comfortable to book and pay online, seldom visit the Travel Agents, may call you often but they come prepared with what they want to do and where they wish to go to. Would usually be seen checking everything on Trip Advisor. Prefer Holiday Destinations which are relaxing and kid friendly. Usally found on Facebook, so best communication channel is Facebook Marketing. Prefer 4-5 Star hotels but are also more likely to experiment with Bouqtiue hotels and would even book 3 star hotels if it has an appeal to them. Experiential Journeys are what appeal to majority of them. Channels to use, Email Marketing, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger. Not very loyal to the Travel Agent, it is more about who offers what.
Age Group 04: These are your customers, who check email in office, seldom check it otherwise, are primarily on Chatbots, Whatsapp, Wechat, Telegram, (Not so much on Facebook, this Generation is on Instagram). They are more likely to go for low budget accommodation. They are totally driven by Experiences, hotels and accommodation does not hold too much of an appeal. Every once in a while they may opt for a good hotel, but having interacted with lots of them, they have an attitude that hotel is just a place for sleeping, they would much rather invest in experiences. Email marketing seldom works with them, they prefer chat as a channel for communication. This group is the least loyal as they understand that not everyone can offer everything and they prefer going to the best for that segment/product.
So where do you put your Marketing efforts and money?
2 things would be the deciding factor, What Products are you promoting and whether you have a segmented database or not. 90% of the Travel Companies that I have worked with have missed the boat when it comes to having a CRM and Segmentation, making it difficult for them to go razor sharp in their marketing efforts.
If you have the Products and a Segmented database, your life is easy because you know which of the audience needs to be targeted how. I would generally use Email Marketing and Facebook + Instagram Marketing campaigns to cover most of the Audience.
If your Database is not segmented then I guess you need to use Guess work as to who could be your Target audience. In which case I would rely more on Social Media marketing and Whatsapp Marketing rather than Email Marketing.
For those of you who know me, you know this is a departure from my earlier recommendations, for my own self (Refer on the left side, I still have an Opt-in box) I still recommend Email Marketing, however the landscape is changing and we need to change as well.
Here are some interesting Observations that made me arrive at this conclusion
- There are Agencies we deal with, who have a Whatsapp Deaprtment in-house to take in the requests.
- Agents have approached me and asked if they can share requests via whatsapp and get responses via whatsapp, they would send a final email when the confirmations are needed to be sent, but for day to day interaction they prefer whatsapp.
- We have started getting requests via Whatsapp from Agents based in the Middle East.
- The clients (Actual End consumers) prefer to have communication via Chat messengers (This was told to me directly by atleast 3 different customers in different geographies)
- My Email Rates went down from a 50% open rate to 47% (Consistently dropped over 1 month) for someone who has sent over 1 Million email messages in the past 2 years and we have trimmed our database each month to take out inactive subscribers that is a huge drop.
- The Agents who wish to be contacted via whatsapp has increased from 200 to over 3500 in the past 2 years.
- UAE and India still have the best Email Open rate and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia the worst.
- Saudi and Kuwait have the best Whatsapp response and engagement rate than all the other markets we deal with.
You would notice that there is no mention of other Marketing tools, like Google PPC, Internet Ad’s and Banner Ad’s that is because I have never been a huge fan of using pay Per click and Banner Ad’s and have never seen it generating a huge traffic in our Domain.