Last updated November 29, 2023
A new potential client has finally contacted you for a consultation, cue the confetti! 🎉
Now it’s time to send them an email to thank them for reaching out and schedule the call.
But instead, you sit there staring at the blinking cursor as you struggle to compose the email. This shouldn't be hard, right? Just write a quick email and hit send!
Have you ever struggled to send those seemingly simple emails, or gotten stuck in an overthinking loop, putting off sending something that really shouldn’t be so hard? If so, email automation may be the silver bullet you’ve been looking for!
It’s so simple. Write the email once, and with a bit of technology wizardry it will send automatically every time it needs to.
How does that happen? With a simple tool called email automation.
Buckle up, because it's time to upgrade your email game!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.
What is email automation?
Email automation is, at its most basic, exactly what it sounds like. Emails get sent automatically when something specific happens.
The automation happens inside of your email marketing software, and is one of the great reasons to have software instead of keeping your email list in a spreadsheet or contact list. If you don’t already have email marketing software, I use and recommend ConvertKit, but there are tons of options available.
No matter which software you choose, the most important thing is to find software that fits your needs and budget and is intuitive and easy for you to use.
Let’s face it, if it’s hard for you to use you won’t actually use it. And there’s no point in paying for something you aren’t using!
Once you choose your email marketing software and set up your account, you’ll need an email list. You can import travel contacts that you’re currently keeping somewhere else, like in a spreadsheet. You can also set up a sign-up form that you add to your website and social media profiles so new people can join your list.
Not sure if you need an email list? You'll want to check out this post.
Now that you have your list it’s time to create some automated emails, or what we call in the marketing world, an email campaign. This is where the magic happens.
You create a single email or series of emails that get sent automatically based on certain things happening first, also known as triggers.
Want to know what kinds of things can be triggers and what you can do with them? Read on!
What can I do with email automation?
There are so many different ways you can use email automation as a travel agent. The possibilities are almost endless. Here are a few of the most common uses for automation.
Send your opt-in download as soon as someone asks for it
If you have an opt-in or lead generator, this is a perfect time to use email automation.
After all, the last thing you want is to have to send something out manually every time someone requests it. You could miss a request, there’s a delay in the requestor receiving the opt-in, and it’s just not a good experience for anyone.
Automation lets you send that lead generator email immediately… automatically!
As soon as someone requests your travel lead generator, that request goes into your email list management and automation software. If you’ve set everything up correctly you already have a template email set up to send them the lead generator. As soon as they request it your email marketing software does the rest.
No delays, and nothing you need to do!
Turn new email subscribers into potential clients
If someone signs up for your email list or downloads your lead generator through a form on your website, you can set up your email automation to send an automatic thank you email. You can also set up a couple more emails letting them know more about the services you provide and inviting them to schedule a consultation.
This series is called a nurture campaign. It’s intended to nurture a new subscriber, taking them from knowing nothing about you or how you can help them, and turning them into a warm subscriber who feels a connection with you and would consider setting up a consultation.
Speaking of consultations, you can even use email automation to make that process easier for you and seamless for a potential customer!
Automate your initial consultation process
In my agency I use email automation to make the consultation scheduling process flow, start to finish, without me having to do anything.
My process is pretty simple.
A potential client fills out a form on my website to provide some basic information about the trip they’d like to take. I receive the form, and then I send them an email with a scheduling link. They can schedule their consultation call at a time that works for both of us.
I always include a bit of additional information about what they can expect during the call, the things we’ll discuss, and what happens after the call if they decide to proceed.
It shouldn’t have been difficult. I would get the form when they filled it out, and I had an email template set up in Gmail that I could easily personalize before sending. But I still found that I was hitting internal resistance getting that email sent. I was overthinking it and waiting to send it.
Not the smartest thing if I want to provide great customer service and grow my travel agency, right?
Cue the email automation!
Instead of having to send the email myself each time a new inquiry comes in, I reworked my technology to make it work for me!
I already had things set up so that, when someone fills out the form on my website, they automatically get dropped into my email list in ConvertKit. All I needed to do was modify the process a bit.
Instead of simply dropping the email address into my email list, I used email automation to automatically send out that initial scheduling email.
Now when someone fills out the form, they immediately get an email confirming that I got their form, letting them know that the next step is to schedule a free, 25-minute consultation call, what they can expect on that call, and the link to schedule it.
Not only that, it also drops a task onto my to-do list to follow up if the potential client hasn’t scheduled their call within a few days of filling out the form.
That means, if they go ahead and schedule their call, there’s absolutely nothing I’ve had to do until it’s time for the consultation call. It’s like magic!
Let people on your email list know about updates
Once you have a travel email list, it’s important to communicate with your subscribers regularly. After all, when they’re ready to plan a trip you want to be the first person they contact!
A great way to do that is to show up in their inbox regularly, with lots of helpful information.
That helpful information can be sent as a newsletter, or if you publish regular blog posts it can be a weekly update letting them know about new content so they can click through and read it. An email like the one you got about this post if you’re on my email list.
Instead of having to write and send those emails each time they need to go out, you can create several at once in your email marketing software. Then schedule them to send automatically at specific times.
There’s nothing else you need to do once the email is scheduled, just sit back and your email marketing software will take care of the rest!
Tips for Successful Email Automation
Ready to take your email game to the next level with automation? Here are a few tips.
Segment your email list
Email marketing software will let you segment, or divide and categorize, your list. It’s a good idea to have some segmentation in your email list so you can send the right emails to people who are interested in them.
Maybe you have certain clients who are interested in traveling to Africa. You can segment these email addresses in your list under the tag “Africa”. If you’re going to host a webinar with an Africa travel supplier or tour operator, or have an in-person travel event focused on Africa, these are the people you’d want to send an email to.
If you have specific people on your list who would be interested in family travel, you can segment them as well. That way when you have family travel blog posts or special offers that you’re sharing, you can send them to those subscribers.
You can even set up your website form to include checkboxes where people can tell you exactly what type of emails they’re interested in receiving. That allows them to be segmented automatically in your travel email marketing software.
Understand your open rate and click-through rate
Your open rate and click-through rates are simple numbers to find in any email marketing automation platform. They're also vital to understand as part of your email marketing strategy.
Your open rate is the percentage of people who received your email and opened it. A good travel marketing email open rate is normally somewhere between 15-30%. When you’re first starting out many of your subscribers will be people who know you personally, and who are more likely to open your emails.
That means it’s not unusual to have a significantly higher open rate when you’re first starting out, and it drops as your email subscribers grow. So don’t be disappointed if those rates go down, but do be aware if they’re below about 20%. It may mean your email subject lines aren’t resonating with your subscribers.
Click-through rate is only applicable if you include links in your emails, like a link to a blog post. The click-through rate is the percentage of people who not only opened the email, but then clicked on the link.
If you find that your open rates are significantly higher than your click-through rates you may need to work on your email contents.
You’ll want to pay special attention to your call-to-action, or CTA. Your CTA is simply the words you use that prompt people to click (or not click) the link. We’ll go much deeper into CTAs in another post, since they’re a topic of their own!
Find your “Goldilocks” number
When it comes to email, you want to find that “Goldilocks” number that is specific to your audience.
Not too many marketing emails, since that will annoy people and they’ll unsubscribe.
But not too few emails, or your subscribers won’t feel connected to you and think to reach out when they’re ready to start planning a trip.
After a new subscriber goes through your nurture campaign, I find that weekly emails are just about right. Not too many, not too few.
If you have special events or a special promotion it’s ok to send additional emails separately from your weekly email, especially if it’s something that people need to think about and then act on.
The bottom line
Email automation can be a game-changer for your travel company. Being able to send personalized, targeted emails to people who have asked to hear from you can help you find new clients and turn people from subscribers into raving fans.
What are you waiting for? Give email automation a try and see what it can do for your travel business.
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