Your property’s website has one job–to convert visitors into bookings. Now, there are many ways that a website can achieve this goal. Some website visitors will be ready to buy right then and there. But, some may be in the research phase, in the process of collecting information to make the best decision later on. In this instance, it’s in your best interest to obtain your website’s visitors’ email addresses to keep in contact with them over time. Here, we will discuss the tools necessary to gather email addresses and use them effectively.
There are two types of content on your website: converting content and inspiring content. Converting content directly drives bookings and reservations. This includes information on your property, room types, pricing, etc. On these pages, there should be a clear call-to-action to book a room. A potential guest should be gently nudged to book on each of these pages. And when they’re actively seeking to book, it should take them very little time to find the booking button.
The second type of content, inspiring content, is used to build thought leadership. Now, that is a buzzword, but what you want to do is convince people that you know more about your destination than anybody else. These types of website pages are often browsed by those that are in the “research phase” of travel planning. You want to provide them immediate value, and you also want to be able to keep in touch with them. Therefore, the call-to-action needs to be “Subscribe to our email updates”. These types of pages require an email capture on the sidebar or at the bottom of each blog post.
The important thing to remember here is that you want to only present one type of call-to-action on any given page. It doesn’t make sense to ask for someone’s email on a page that describes your different room types, because you want them to book. Competing calls-to-action just confuse the visitor, and can lead to decreased conversions. Understanding the difference between your content pages is essential to success.
So then, the following email capture tools and tactics should be used on your inspiring content pages–blogs, articles, maps, downloadables, etc. Your primary “conversion” pages (such as your homepage and booking engine) should not have these email capture tools. Instead, they always link to your booking engine to drive a direct conversion.
Jetpack is a multi-purpose plugin created by Automattic–the company that created and supports WordPress. It gives you visitor stats, security services, speeds up images, and gives you functionality to gain more traffic. One of the most useful tools within this plugin is called “subscriptions”. Once you install Jetpack, there is a widget called Blog Subscriptions (Jetpack) that allows you to customize an email capture widget and add it to your sidebar, wherever you want it to appear. This widget places an email capture in your sidebar and in your comments section that allows visitors to signup for future blog post updates.
When a user decides to subscribe to your blog, they will receive an email with every post you publish. You can add filters to manage which posts are sent with a few lines of code. You can find that code, here, under ‘Using filters to customize subscription delivery”.
You can also add a subscriptions form anywhere on your website with a simple html code that you can find on their help page here under “Where will my subscriptions appear on my site” on number 3.
Additionally, you can download a list of all email subscribers at any time if you decide to change email platforms or merge marketing lists. To do that, go to Jetpack > Site Stats. Scroll to the bottom, and you will see a Subscriptions box. Click on your subscriber count, and you will find the list, which you can download.
The Jetpack subscription widget is great for many reasons. You can rest easy knowing it is safe and reliable because it was built by WordPress. However, be aware that there are not many customization options. The subscriptions service doesn’t allow you to create lists to customize emails. But, you can manually export the email address and upload them to a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact.
Gravity forms is a WordPress plugin that allows you to quickly build and design WordPress forms using their powerful editor. This is a powerful enterprise-level plugin that works well, but it is complicated. It is probably overkill for most small inns. However, larger properties that employ their own marketing and web design individuals should leverage the power of Gravity Forms to connect to more third-party services–such as Salesforce, Zendesk, or email services like Mailchimp.
With Gravity Forms, you can collect any kind of information you want–from their name and email, to more advanced information such as addresses, website URLs, and file uploads. There are many features, but we we’ll focus on the ones best for email.
The basic personal license costs $39/year which includes one website, unlimited forms and unlimited entries. However, it doesn’t include any of the add-ons. The second tier, business license, costs $99/year and includes the add-ons. The most relevant add-ons are the ones that connect to email management services like MailChimp and iContact. These add-ons allow you to automatically add subscribers to your email lists when a form is submitted. That way you can save time uploading and sorting email addresses.
Although this option costs money, email marketing remains one of the most powerful digital marketing tactics. Gravity forms allows you to create many different types of forms that you can use to power your entire website. For example, you could use a form on room type pages to enable guests to request more information.
Most email services, like MailChimp, offer their own plugins that you can install to your website. MailChimp has a directory of integrations that help you gather email addresses. For example, this MailChimp Widget creates a simple sign up form in your sidebar.
Another available widget is the MailMunch Email List Builder. This widget is a pop-up window that you can use to target people on certain pages of your website. While many people find pop-up windows annoying, they are effective in collecting email addresses. The widget also allows you to do A/B testing to eliminate guesswork from your decision making.
As we mentioned above, most email services will have their own widgets that you can plug into your website to collect email addresses. If you already use an email service, check what options they have available.
Sometimes it’s as simple as copying and pasting a code into your widget sidebar. Fanbridge, for example, offers you a simple code. To install it, open up your widgets, drag a new “text” widget into your sidebar, and paste the code from Fanbridge into it. Boom. Easy as that.
Because WordPress is so popular, there are countless plugins available to enable your email marketing strategy. The plugins listed above use the most common and well-known services. They are not the only plugins available, so if for some reason they don’t meet your needs, a little research will lead you in the right direction.