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!

Top 5 Rental Website Conversion Tactics to Boost your Bookings

Do you find your website generating a large volume of traffic but not yielding enough conversions? This is one of the many challenges many vacation rental managers face when it comes to their digital marketing success. Identifying the potential causes of failing to convert those lookers into bookers is the first step into solving this very common problem.

Can you answer these questions that as a marketer or manager should be able to answer?

Think about your online conversion rate.  If you get 1,000 visitors to your website a day, but only convert 2% that’s 20 reservations.  But what if you could increase that percentage to 10%?  That’s 80 more reservations a day you are making online.  This is why website conversion optimization is so important.  We want you to increase your traffic, but we want you to also focus on converting a higher percentage of that traffic.  That’s where the real money is.

It’s important that you have a team that knows what they are doing: where to put things, how to word things, what color to make calls to action.  What makes a person go or stop, and how to funnel traffic throughout your website.  That’s what we specialize in Conversion Focused websites.

 

The Top Conversion Tactics

Conversion Tactic #1: Make it Mobile!

It’s really important visitors can navigate your site from any mobile or desktop device.  Most people are shopping on mobile devices and make their purchases on a desktop.  This is the same with travel purchases. But mobile conversions are on the rise, so you need to be thinking about your mobile architecture and usability for mobile navigation.Incorporate marketing – people open their email, see start shopping

For 30% mobile 80% bookings come from desktop.Mobile traffic is up 200% in the past few years.

 

Conversion Tactic #2: Up Your Elements

So let’s talk about some of those elements that help funnel your traffic.  One of the most important things it to make sure your quick search is above the fold.  Use cool verbiage in your calls to action, like “Begin Your Adventure” rather than just “Start  your Search”.  Use brighter colors to call their focus for book now.

It’s online marketing’s job to get traffic to your site, but it’s usability and functionality that uses some psychology to make them book.  This is a screen shot of our booking engine.

The visitor has landed on the website and began to search.  They could be shopping around for price and availability.  We’ve incorporated urgency into our booking engine.  We show that search has only produced X amount of properties, or 82% of our inventory matching your search results is booked, reserve now, or showing that 22 people have viewed this property in the last 3 hours.  These elements show the visitor, they need to take action before their selection is gone.

Conversion Tactic #3: Make It Easy!

In order to find a property, you’ve got to have the tools to help them.  Having a refine search with popular features is necessary for your visitors to drill down and find the perfect property.  If you’re a hotel, this maybe different for you, you only have a couple room types, but making it easy for them to find those room types, pricing, and ability to book them.

Then you want to make sure you are tracking our searches.  What are your most popular arrival dates?  What is the average length of stay people are searching for?  Do you have a lot of people looking for something that is pet friendly, but only a handful of pet friendly properties.  This could open up opportunities for you to expand your inventory.  Let’s say you get a lot of people searching for 3 BR oceanfront at the <xxx> Resort, but you only have 1.  This could be an opportunity to market to owners there telling them you have the demand, but you need more supply.  Having tangible results from actual searches performed on your website could be a powerful tool to potential owners – especially with the analytics to back it up.

Conversion Tactic #4: Focus on the Booking Page

Take a look at your conversion rates from your check out pages.  This is probably one of the most important pages.  You work so hard to get a visitor there.  Obsess over this rate.  We pay so much attention to the pretty pictures and design, and you may think this is just a standard form.  It’s not.  We’ve learned from improving our clients check out pages and also from looking at what the big dogs do –

  • strip out your navigation,
  • make the form easy to fill out and fit on one page,
  • and easy to fill out on a mobile device
  • have your totals adjust as they add on or opt-out of things like travel insurance
  • make sure they know it’s secure, and make sure it’s simple.

Conversion Tactic #5: Watch the Users and Adapt

Navis is going to tell you a lot about what happens to a lead after they’ve made contact with you or booked, but if they didn’t get there –say they landed on your website and bounced or exited before booking or making contact, you have to take a look at your funnels in Google Analytics.  This is going to be going in and looking at your pages, page views, and conversions from those pages.

Say they land on your specials page, but don’t know how to execute the special.  Well it can result in an exit rather than a booking.  If you see high bounce or exit rates on your pages at any point in your funnel, you are going to want to drill down and figure out why.  You can install more tracking through Crazy Egg heat mapping or watch video clips of visitors looking at your site and what they are doing.  This going to tell if your visitors are getting lost, if they are backing out at the check out pages, or trying things that will help with conversions.  Maybe it’s a call to action, maybe your promo code field is not visible, you have to dig in and see what visitors are doing to help make changes to your funnel.

Final Converting Thoughts

“Beautiful websites don’t generate leads”. There are a ton of fantastic web designers out there that can create a great and beautiful website, but they may not be centered around conversions. We like to call those websites “All flash and no cash”. When you go with ICND,  you are choosing a company that has researched and implemented the elements that will help you increase you conversion rates.

We are headed to the Streamline Summit!

 

side1rgb

We are excited to say that some of the ICND crew will be headed to the Streamline Summit starting September 28th – 30th. Like always we will be discussing trending topics in the website development and digital marketing world. We will also be highlighting some of our business automation tools that help streamline process and improve profitability.

 

Overall, we are so excited to give back to the industry and to help others achieve their business goals. We will see you at the Summit!

RezFest 2015, Come See ICND in Las Vegas

 

Desert_RoadBLOG2

In just a few short weeks, ICND will be heading to Red Rock, Las Vegas for the RezFest 2015  conference, held by HomeAway®.  As a HomeAway® approved web developer that has integrated with their  software for over 10 years, we’re excited to get the chance to participate as a Gold Sponsor.  Our team will be giving a presentation on Website Conversion tips and tricks as well as a lunch round table engagement concerning things you should take into consideration when you’re looking to update your website.

Website Conversion Rate Optimization – Turning Lookers into Bookers

On Wednesday October 7th, at 2:30pm come get to know the ICND team. You’ll leave the 30-minute presentation with a wealth of knowledge concerning Website Conversion Rate Optimization and Usability. For this session, we will review and pinpoint real world examples of components and features in a website that can help turn more viewers into guests and book more rentals. Website usability can greatly impact your website’s conversion rates. With the newfound knowledge you’ll take away from our session, you can begin making a true difference to your website’s conversion funnel immediately.

  • Find out what key components leads to the best conversion rates
  • Learn how to improve guest experience through the use of our Guest Portal
  • Keep track of leads and their search habits through our Lead Tracker
  • Respond to every lead automatically (even when you’re sleeping) with our OTA Auto Responder

Check out the RezFest website to sign up and save this event to your schedule.

ICND: Boost Revenue with These Website Redesign Tips & Discussion 

| Table 34 | Discussion Led By Brandon Sauls

Whether you are new comer or long-time user to HomeAway Software, there are certain ways you need your website to perform and interact with your API. ICND will lead an interactive Q&A to help you understand what both the API and custom programming can do in order for you to bring your business rules and marketing online. You ask questions and we’ll provide our experience and best practices. We’ll provide a take-home-guide of the “Top 10 Most Important Tips” to consider when building your website and integrating with a HomeAway®API.

Everyone is welcome, no matter if you are a long-time customer of Escapia and looking to upgrade your site, upgrading from Property Plus to v12, or a brand-new HomeAway®customer, you will get to know what the API is, what it can do, and the best practices for integrating. We’ll discuss promo codes, offering flexible dates (in search), most popular amenities, and what to use for quick search versus refined search.  We will also talk about dynamic pricing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), property enhancement, travel-insurance, bundling fees, and so much more.

If you are considering a new site, just launched, or are in the midst of rebuilding – you simply have to join us in this open, round-table discussion.

footerimageseeyouthere2

 

ICND Partners with Duplin Winery for Comprehensive Marketing Plan

Duplin2

InterCoastal Net Designs (ICND) is proud to announce our partnership with Duplin Winery. Duplin Winery, located in Rose Hill, North Carolina, is an award wining winery proudly producing sweet Muscadine wines served nation wide. The Duplin Winery marketing team attended a session at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce where our marketing team presented on 2015 marketing strategy. Duplin Winery liked what they heard and set up a time to speak with ICND on how we could develop a creative marketing plan suited to them.

Continue reading “ICND Partners with Duplin Winery for Comprehensive Marketing Plan”

How a New Website Can Help Your Traffic

Industry standards tell businesses that they should redesign their website every 2-3 years, and this is something InterCoastal Net Designs (ICND) highly recommends to our customer base. Modern design and programming tactics change so quickly, a website can easily become dated with in a few years. Not only may you be missing out on new technology by keeping the same site for 4 or more years, you might be missing out on traffic as well!

We have done a case study of a vacation rental client of ours. Sample client launched their first website with ICND in early 2010. The website was clean, modern for the time, and we even developed a mobile site where their guests could book online (which was relatively new technology in 2010). In 2013, we decided it was time for an upgrade. While a mobile site is great, a responsive website is even better. Instead of having 2 sites, you now have one which responds to the viewer’s device. It’s easier for updates, and Google also prefers it.  Computer screens are now wider than they were in 2010, so we designed the new site to be wider as well. We also assured that there was a prominent quick search box above the top fold. After all, the main goal of a vacation rental website is to get your viewers to search for a vacation rental, and ultimately book.

In the beginning of 2014, we started to see a hit in online traffic. This client had been on a steady marketing plan for years and there had been no major change in marketing strategy. We pushed to get the new website live, hoping that we would see a turn around in traffic and revenue upon launch. The new website went live in May of 2014. After 3 short months, we have seen some great increases! Now they are well above their numbers for 2013!

The image below shows their organic traffic for March 1 2014- August 13 2014 and March 1 2013- August 13 2013. The orange line shows 2013 traffic, the blue one shows 2014 traffic. You will notice that prior to the website launching, they were gaining less traffic this year than they had last. As soon as the website launched, 2014 traffic began to show as more than 2013.
Case_Study

 

 

 

 

Your website is the face of your company, so it is important to keep it up to date. Not only will it impress your viewers and potential customers, it will also impress the search engines, leading them to view you as the leader in your industry!

Myrtle Beach Chamber Academy Sessions August 2014

*Just Updated: Our first session for August 6th is sold out! Hurry, register today for the others in the series!*

Mark your calendars. ICND is proud to announce that we have been chosen to present at the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce – Chamber Academy for many sessions this August. We’ll be teaching attendees about Social Media, Online Marketing Strategy, Facebook Advertising, PPC Advertising, and Elements that make up the perfect website. If you are looking to improve your website or online marketing, join us for this free session. They are all 11:30-1:30. Lunch will be provided by, the nearly famous, Dagwood Deli for only $8. Register now here!

chamber

 

ICND is excited to give back to the community by providing marketing workshops that will help educate managers and marketers about web development and all facets of online marketing. If you are looking for some exciting workshops to get you up to speed on the latest and greatest trends, please make sure you don’t miss our series.

Leverage Social Media Like a Pro & Local Search Engine Optimization

Aug. 6 ~ 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
MBACC Boardroom
Free. Lunch $8. SESSION FULL

Your Complete 2015 Online Marketing Strategy

Aug. 13 ~ 12-1 p.m.
MBACC Boardroom
Free. Lunch $8. Register Now

$1 Facebook Advertising Trick &
Pay Per Click Profitability

 

Aug. 20 ~ 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
MBACC Boardroom
Free. Lunch $8. Register Now

Elements of a Perfect Website

Aug. 27 ~ 12-1 p.m.
MBACC Boardroom
Free. Lunch $8. Register Now

Register for free on the chamber website. We look forward to seeing you there!

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? 

Demographics

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.

Demographics

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.

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!