What’s Next for GDPR and Your Website?

On May 25th the European Union officially implemented GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation.) The web design industry has been abuzz with this news for quite some time. At ICND we’ve put in the research and developed tactics necessary to assist our customers with this transition.

There are many moving parts to GDPR, but the three main points are listed below:

Users must consent to the processing of their personal data and companies must explain how data is collected and the intention for utilizing data.

Users have the right for their personal data to be deleted/forgotten.

If a website experiences a data breach, it must be reported within 72 hours.

We know GDPR can be confusing, but for our customers primarily operating and marketing within the United States, this is what GDPR means for you:

Updating Your Website Privacy Policy: We have created a new privacy policy that can be adopted by our customers. This revised privacy policy was specifically developed in response to GDPR, providing website users with more in-depth information on how their personal data may be collected and used.

Readily Available Contact & Data Controller Information: The updated privacy policy needs to include clear and concise contact information for website users. This will assist users wishing to request information your company has about them, correct any of that information or delete the information altogether.

Opt-Choice for Email Marketing: Upon completing a contact form on your website, users should have the ability to opt-in if they wish to receive further emails from your company.


Google Analytics Settings: Since personal data is one of the largest components of GDPR, you can choose the amount of time Google Analytics retains data prior to deleting the information. This will not affect standard analytics on your site. Google Analytics presents customers with the following time-frame options for retaining data: 14 months, 26 months, 38 months or 50 months. ICND Digital Marketing customers have already had this completed on their behalf. If you’re using your own Google Analytics platform, you were likely already prompted to decide on this time frame.


Please note that these suggestions are precautionary measures. While GDPR does not currently pertain to our customers only doing business in the United States, we feel these measures will keep your website current with industry standards.

Contact our team today to learn more about GDPR and get started on updating your website!


Email Marketing: 5 Tips to Success in the Vacation Rental Industry

One of the tools we see that is underused or not used properly in the vacation rental industry is direct email marketing. Often, people consider this to be an “old” tactic or their email itself looks like it is from 2001. However, with the proper efforts, email marketing can be one of the most powerful tools in your vacation rental marketing arsenal. But what makes a good email marketing campaign, or even a good email for that matter? Here are five tips you can use to improve or launch your next email campaign.

Make sure you are mobile friendly. We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips in this little device called a smartphone. If your marketing plan doesn’t revolve around this device then you should look at revising it. Some statistics say that over 60% of emails opened are on a mobile device so your design and methodology should revolve highly around mobile. At ICND we are always updating our custom email templates and improving them for mobile usage. In many ways this goes beyond just pixel size.

Viewing Email on Mobile Device

Have the right focus and goals. Don’t try to make bookings with an email. The point of sending an email is to drive traffic to your website, not to make bookings. Although we can attribute bookings to email campaigns through analytics to show the value and return on investment, this should not be the goal when designing and planning. Because of this, you want to make sure your brand is consistent across the board. For example, if your email talks about a specific vacation rental special, when your buyer clicks through to the website they will expect to know more. Whether that is in the form of rental properties, information about the specifics of the vacation special, or how they can receive the discount in the near future, you will need to make sure they know what to do. Focus on driving traffic and let your website do it’s thing.

Create a message. One thing we suggest with our email marketing is to drive a specific message. Instead of focusing on several different topics in one email, focus on one and really drive the message home. This makes sure that your audience knows what you are trying to promote and will allow you to understand what offers your target audience wants and does not want.

Make it a visual experience. Many emails can be bulky with random images and a lot of text. Though you should follow the 80/20 rule with text to images, make your email a visual experience. Take some time to put your best foot forward with your imagery and select things that really capture what you are promoting. One thing to remember is if your email has too many images, it is likely to be marked as spam. You can also add another layer of spice with colors and fonts. This can be slightly tricky when you are designing for 28 different email clients i.e. outlook, gmail, yahoo, iPhones, etc… so if you get stumped, we are always here to answer your questions.

Testing and measurement. When you are done and have everything just the way you want it, don’t forget to test your email before sending. This will tell you if it is going to look right when the recipient receives it through their email client. And if by some chance it doesn’t look right, a view in browser link isn’t a bad thing to have at the top. Also, don’t forget to measure your campaigns. It is all for nothing if you aren’t measuring how your email campaigns are performing.

You can use http://www.litmus.com to test your email campaigns.

All in all, there are many things that go into creating and executing a successful email. These five points, although valuable, are just skimming the surface when it comes to everything you have to do. So if you want to add or improve your email marketing but some of this just seems a little too overwhelming, reach out to us and we would be more than happy to answer questions and start you off on the path to success with your direct email marketing.

The Cart Abandonment Mystery: Solved for Vacation Rentals

We can all agree that one of the most frustrating things to see is when a consumer is one step from buying and then for some reason, they don’t. A good majority of the business model in the vacation rental industry is based around e-commerce so having the proper tools for that space is essential in closing the deal and generating revenue. And no matter who you are, we all have issues with cart abandonment.

Cart abandonment in vacation rental marketing terms is when a user gets to a check-out page and then leaves for various reasons.  (There really are not “carts” for the rental industry.)

On average cart abandonment is responsible for over 82% of lost sales every year, that’s a huge number! However, ICND clients have been able to turn that negative statistic into revenue due to some of the tools they have access too. Some clients are recapturing 20% of the abandoned traffic which results to an average of $50,000 per month recaptured that otherwise would be lost; that adds up to $600,000 per year in generated revenue from a simple process.

Automated Emails Bring Potential Guests Back

The magic is in the tools we use and it starts with our booking engine. Our booking engine sends out a “reminder” email, much like Amazon, if the user didn’t complete their purchase.   There could be many reason’s someone abandon’s their booking.  Maybe they want to compare pricing, maybe they get distracted.  Who knows.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: The consumer reaches the “Booking” page and starts entering information.
Step 2: For some reason, they don’t book but the information is recorded and stored in your database.
Step 3: After a certain amount of time, if they don’t convert, the system automatically sends a follow-up email to remind them to come back and book.

But what’s awesome is we offer a back-end dashboard that tracks ALL of these emails:

  • When they abandoned their checkout
  • When the reminder email was sent
  • When it was opened
  • Whether they returned and booked or not
  • Oh, of course, their name and email address
All emails and stats for the cart abandonment are recorded in your back end.

Let’s Make It Easy for the Guests

We all know a user will visit your website multiple times before booking.  That’s just how it is.  So what if we made it easier on them to return and BOOK?  That’s why ICND was proactive to introduce this concept to the VRM industry and the results have been exceptional.

If a potential guest abandons their checkout, we ALSO have a nifty little gadget that shows them the unit they abandoned once they RETURN to the site.

Rentals Cart Abandonment
When a user returns to your site and didn’t book, they get this, sending them down the sales funnel faster.

Seamless Integrations

Our Lead Tracker tool organizes and categorizes leads so they are easy to segment and market too. It will also capture as much information as it can such as name, phone number, and property ID.

This is a simple process to grow revenue and improve your brand’s image by staying in front of your audience. If you’re curious about implementing this strategy into your overall marketing toolkit, give us a call and we’ll show you how you can start growing your revenue and creating more satisfied customers.  Don’t forget to check out our award winning website designs for vacation rental companies as well!

Case Study: Email Collection Turns In $517,436 In Bookings


As email marketing professionals, we know the value of a great active list to send to. After all, if you’re not collecting new email addresses, then how are you growing your email database over time?

At ICND, we’ve spent lots of time working on the tactical part of email marketing messages: what’s the best time to send, what segment do we send the message to and what do we include to generate the most clicks? But, at the end of the day, email lists with more members get more clicks.

In short, bigger (lists) are always better (for your traffic and bookings).

With that in mind, we set out to help a client reach their email marketing goals — encourage more bookings, drive action and get more traffic to their website. At first, we added our typical email strategy: tracking capture points, optimizing copy and CTAs and creating urgency to sign up for this client’s newsletter.

It worked — we were gaining new email addresses but sadly also losing email addresses too. For every few emails we added to the list, one may unsubscribe during the next marketing message we sent.

Let me be honest — the list growth for this client was fairly stagnant.

Armed with this information, we set out to help grow their list with a plan designed to garner more attention, signups and results.

Enter The Email Popup Modal

If you’ve been on any e-commerce website or blog over the past few years, you’ve probably seen the trend of email popups dominating your screen. Large, in your face modals are all the rage. As we’ve learned, there is a good reason for that: They work.

In Spring of 2015, we added a popup modal for our client located in a popular beach destination along the South Carolina coast. The popup modal didn’t just come up on first page load but instead had a careful set of rules set before it would show to the potential guest.

  • The modal only shows after the guest has viewed three pages
  • A discount is shown if you sign up — $25 off your next booking
  • If closed, the modal does not return for 30 days
  • Just after the email, the promo code is sent to the guest to confirm it’s a real email address

Reviewing their 2015-2016 Google Analytics revenue reports lead us to pull the stats: the email modal was a smashing success.

The email modal added 4,656 new emails, generated $517,436 in bookings and lead to the biggest email database the client has ever had: 26,000 and growing. 

Why $25?

Working with other email marketing clients, this question keeps coming up: why the dollar discount? Ideally we’d offer a percentage discount so that we’re not giving alternate discounts to each rental. Some rentals are $1,800 per week while others are $3,200 or more: why the flat number?

It all came down to testing.

When we first added the popup, we tested the impact of signups on offering a 5% discount versus a $25 discount. In all cases, 5% is a much larger discount in terms of dollars compared to 5%. Yet, the dollar amount won every test we ran.

Simple = Works

Having to do the math on a 5% discount versus the simple idea behind $25 proved to be too complicated: guests preferred the easy version.

Common Question: Do I Have To Discount?

Nope. We’ve added popup modals for many other clients without discounts: but they don’t convert nearly at the same percentage.

Should You Add A Popup Modal?

Put simply, yes. We’ve seen stellar results from adding these popup modals to our clients websites, but discounts lead to the best results. If you want to get started, contact us today and we’ll get you setup with more emails. 

New Email Marketing Laws That You Must Know as a Vacation Rental Marketer

I’m going to take a brief moment to explain the new laws affecting email marketing to your Canadian clients.  I’m going to cover whether this will affect you as a vacation rental manager, highlight some essential points to follow and provide you an action plan for compliance.

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation


What this is about:

The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, better known as “CASL”, has been put into place recently by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regarding any and ALL emails sent to your clients in Canada.


Does this apply to you?

Have you ever received an inquiry or booking from someone in Canada?  Then yes, this applies to you.

Do you think you may receive an inquiry or booking from someone in Canada?  Yes, this applies to you.

*Keep in mind that all of the below, while they are good practice, only apply to your Canadian clients and their email addresses.  No need to change what you’re doing for your US or other client’s emails.


3 Essential Rules to Follow:

#1) Consent:  You must receive “consent” from the person you are sending an email to.  This could be implied or expressed consent.

Implied consent could mean a business relationship such as a booking or inquiry of a property online.

Expressed consent is like someone subscribing to your list or asking to be on your list.  This could be oral, written or electronic but it must be clear who and what they are subscribing to.

#2) Identification:  At the point in which you are acquiring an email and consent, you must identify the name of the business, contact info (address, phone, email, web address), and be sure to make this “clear and prominent”.

#3) Unsubscribe:  You must always be sure to allow someone to unsubscribe at any time, allow this function at no cost and perform the unsubscribe action in 10 days or less.  Pretty easy here, you should be doing this anyways.



While this is tiered, penalties of up to $10 million per violation may be applied and are enforced by the CRTC.  If I interpreted this correctly, these penalties will not be enforced until July 1st, 2017; so we have 3 years.


Important Points:

1)  If someone books a property, this is a business relationship and gives you implied consent, however, this only gives you the ability to email this person for up to 24 months.

2)  If a person inquires about a property, this is again implied consent, but you are only authorized to email this person for 6 months.

3)  If you include in your terms the act of entering their email address is giving you consent to include them in your email marketing, and it must be “clear & prominent”, then this implied consent gives you the ability to send email to them for 24 months.

4)  You often see or use check boxes to auto opt-in subscribers with it already checked.   Now, they need to check that box to opt in rather than them un-checking the box to opt-out.


It is the burden of the sender to provide proof of consent:  This means that you should start tracking the submit date and expiration date of consent.  Other key information to track would be the source or webpage consent was given, booking number, IP address, and a “last update” field.  If someone inquires or books again, this resets the expiration of consent to email.

Refer a Friend Campaign:  If you’ve ever encouraged users to refer a friend, things are changed up a little here as well for our Canadian friends.  The person referring their friend must have either a personal or business relationship with both parties.  And most importantly, this allows you as the business receiving the referral to contact this person 1 time unless you receive explicit consent to contact them further.


Your Action Plan:

What to Do With Your Current Email List:  Identify who are your Canadian email clients.  You can do this a few different ways.  Depending on what service you use to send emails, you should be able to identify all emails opened in Canada – segment these.  Also, any emails that end in a .ca be sure to segment them as well into group.  Once you’ve identified your Canadian email addresses, re-opt in these clients.  Make this short and simple and maybe offer an incentive.

Acquisition of New Email Addresses:  Think about your future strategy for acquisition of email addresses.  How will you identify new subscribers, future guests who inquire about a property and bookings as Canadians?  You can track IP addresses, ask “country” in your forms, or think of other creative ways to identify these email addresses as Canadian clients so that you can manage your list.

Managing Your Ongoing Email List:  How do you manage your list going forward?  If someone inquiries about a property, this implied consent only allows you to email them for 6 months versus someone who books you can email for upto 2 years.  And what if someone who is on your list inquires/books again, this extends your consent to email out a little longer.  Figuring out your strategy for managing this “expiration date” of Canadian email addresses is important to remain compliant and avoid costly fees.



I’m doing my best to describe the changes in laymen’s terms.  I am by no means an attorney so please consult professional advice.  This blog is in no way a complete representation of all changes, I’m simply trying to cover to the best of my ability the changes that would likely apply to you as a vacation rental manager.

Effective Placement of Links in Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to get directly in front of your client base. When sending an eblast, it is important to not only get your customers attention, but you also want to encourage them to click over to your website. We have studied the information on a few recent eblasts, and where people are clicking is very interesting!  See the eblast sample pictured below.

Email Marketing

This is a vacation rental company who sent a recent eblast offering specials and featuring specific homes. The majority of people are clicking on one of the areas that boasts “up to 40% off!” No big shock there, people are always looking for a deal.

Below the 40% off offer, there are 8 featured homes (which we have blurred out for privacy). This is where it gets interesting. Each featured home has a photo, the name of the home, and a button that says “view availability”. On each home, more people clicked on the photo than the view availability button.  We are always preaching how you need a call to action, which is still extremely important. But it is also important to make sure photos and other areas are linked as well. The more opportunities you give people to click the better!

If you’re interested in more information about email marketing and how it can help you, contact your account rep today! Don’t have an account rep yet? Contact us at info@icoastalnet.com

The Pragmatic Approach for Targeting Vacationer Demographics

The vacation rental industry is an 85 billion dollar industry with virtually every demographic planning a dream vacation, year after year. A majority of vacation rental managers often realize too late about vacant inventory. Focused solely on families (or vice versa) this late realization leads to last minute price slashing with mixed results. Wouldn’t it be nice each year to be ahead of the curve and guarantee a larger percentage of bookings?

Studies have shown (Framingham Heart Study) that men who regularly vacation are 32% less likely to die of heart related illnesses compared to men who do not take a regular vacation. What’s worse is that women who don’t vacation twice a year are 8 times MORE likely to suffer from a heart related illness. These studies reinforce the notion that happier, healthier people across the board, know that rest and relaxation are vital to their health.

The question is: are you capturing every demographic the correct way? 


Today’s marketing tools make it easier than ever to target specific demographics:

Facebook Targeted Ads– Facebook ads have come a long way in terms of targeting. Users of Facebook today are revealing more and more information within their own profiles that Facebook has tactfully gained access to who each user is. If one bedroom condos are a large part of your inventory still in stock, the ability to create an ad specifically toward those in relationships with less than 2 children as well as including the unmarried and married with less than 2 children, ensures that those in your target segment are the only ones who are viewing such an ad.

Facebook Post Targeting– Did you know you can cater a post to specific demographics? Much like Facebook ads, specific post targeting allows you to display certain posts to current fans that you wish to capture. Suppose there are a number of units you’d like to see booked for an upcoming weekend. Depending on your vacation rental price points, wouldn’t it make sense to target to those solely within a day’s drive? Creating a targeted post highlighting this facet has the potential to yield higher results.


Segmented E-mails– Does your company use departure questionnaires? If not, it might be time to consider implementing them. Gathering as much information on former clients can help determine location, time of year and frequency of their vacation habits.

PPC– Google, the mother ship of all things related to targeting. It should be of no surprise that Google knows everything about you. Whether you use their browser, (Chrome) or simply use Google searches on a daily basis, the fact remains that they are keeping tabs on your search history and figuring out with great detail, who you are. The power of this information is outstanding. One of the tools marketers have at their hands is Pay Per Click Ads. Incorporating a well-timed and concentrated PPC campaign not only increases views but can also show you in a variety of facets where you may be failing in converting actual sales.

Demographic information is one of the most vital aspects to understanding your business. With comprehensive research within your own buyers’ history as well as carefully executed targeting measures, the ability to capture and retain audiences has never been stronger. Utilization of these targeting tools can propel your company’s overall performance.

Are Your Eblasts Converting How They Should?

You’ve heard it before. Email Marketing is an easy and in expensive way to stay in front of your consumer. Keep them in the know, and keep you on their mind. It’s a tried and true method, and we don’t see the importance of email marketing going away any time soon. But are you gaining all the leads you should be? Is your campaign working for you? What can you do to convert more leads from these eblasts?

A good way to measure a successful eblast, is by looking out how many people read the eblast, and then how many people clicked. Clicks are extremely important. If someone clicks, that means they’re very interested in what you’re offering. Interested enough to go to your website and read more. Getting them to click is reeling them in and making them more like to convert into a sale. But how to you get them to click? Now there’s a million dollar question.  Over the past few months, our marketing team has been studying and testing different eblast designs, to see if the design makes a difference on conversions. 

The results are in: The way your eblast is designed significantly affects the number of people who click over to your site!

Our testing has shown that the most successful eblasts are eblasts that have teasers that prompt people to click for more information, as oppose to block text. Block text means they have to read, right away. Your viewers might just hit delete instead of spending the time to read it to see if they’re even interested. But if you tease them with different article titles and descriptions, and link each to a blog post or page on your website, your capturing more qualified leads. Most people are only going to click on what they are truly interested in. Now, instead of having to wade through a long email to figure out if it applies to them, they can glance over the eblast quickly, and then click on something that catches there eye!

The below eblast is the 2013 version. This eblast has a clean design and is mobile friendly, but has a spot for a large block of text. This block of text would vary from month to month, talking about specials, what was going on in the area, etc. The eblast also had clickable boxes, but it wasn't the meat of the eblast.

Next see their 2014 version, with block text eliminated, and article links/teaser text instead. Going forward, each month we will be chaning out the pictures and text to actual articles and pages relevant to that time period. With this past eblast design, they receive over 500 more clicks than the average block text 2013 eblast!

They’re not the only ones! We have had other clients experience a 4% or more increase in clicks once they switched over to a newer design! We are even using this same format on our email marketing pieces and have seen a large jump in traffic. Any form of email marketing is better than none, but if you’re going to do it, why not do it in a way that will encourage maximum results?

Email Marketing: Plan Now for Post Holiday Campaigns

When we first posted about strategizing for your holiday marketing it felt like we were gearing up too early, but now we are in the throws of the holiday season. While we are hesitant to think about a time when the holiday cheer has passed, it’s certainly necessary to begin brainstorming for your post-holiday email marketing campaign.

Here are a few key aspects to promote, post Christmas frenzy:

  1. Returns: If you’re an e-commerce client, start gearing up for gift returns that either didn’t fit or totally missed the mark! Eblasts promoting your latest and greatest items may persuade someone to return a gift, and hopefully spend more money!
  2. Money Gifts: Let’s face it, sometimes you’d rather get money from a distant relative, than have them guess what you may like! Many people receive money from family members for the holidays. Send an eblast letting them know why your product or service is the best use of their gift.
  3. New Year, New Changes: Everyone wants to start off the New Year fresh. Promote your company mission, products or services as a way to kick start the New Year. Regardless of whether or not what you offer fits the standard New Years resolution goal, this eblast option can still work if you get creative. For instance, start off the New Year with a planned family vacation in 2014. Something to the effect of making time for family and friends over the course of this New Year!

In short, post holiday marketing can be just as strategic as the campaign you’re implementing right now. Don’t fall short after Christmas and Hanukkah. Strategize now so that prior to taking time off for the holidays, everything will be in place when the team returns to the office.  

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It seems like the holidays start coming earlier and earlier every year. You can walk into a store in October, and see Christmas decorations. Here at ICND we waited until November 1st to start really pushing our holiday marketing campaigns.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to take a vacation. ICND has been helping our vacation rental clients target renters for the holidays for many years. There are numerous ways you can put a holiday spin on your marketing campaign!

Email Marketing Send out an eblast dedicated to holiday events in your area, encouraging people to come stay for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any time in between. Encourage them to make new traditions. Eblasts are a great way to have fun, and talk to your potential guests from their view point. Paint a picture that they would want to be a part of. Talk straight to them. “Who wouldn’t want to wake up with a view of a ski resort on Christmas morning?” or “Take a walk on the beach after your big Thanksgiving meal!” Keep it short and sweet. 

Website Edits– If you have a large rotating banner on your website, why not have a holiday relevant one designed? That way people will get the holiday feel as soon as they land on your homepage. Or how about adding some Christmas lights or a santa hat to your logo? Have fun with it! ICND’s marketing and graphic design team can help you come up with fun ideas to fit the look and feel of your company.

Holiday Specials– Everyone is always looking for a deal. Let them know that staying with you for the holidays is more affordable than they might think.

Social Media Designs- It is always good to rebrand your social media pages every 3-6 months. Giving it a new look and feel is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your guests intrigued. ICND often rebrands our Social Media client Facebook and Twitter pages during the holiday season. A festive way to grab peoples attention! 

Don’t let a marketing opportunity slip through your fingers. Regardless of the time period of your in season, the holidays are a great time to increase bookings!

Looking for more holiday marketing tips? Contact your account rep, or info@icoastalnet.com today!