Courtney Godwin is one of the most steady and reliable marketers on our team. She executes flawless email marketing campaigns for our destination clients all day. We don’t hear much about her work. She is humble to a fault and quiet, but when our monthly “best of” awards come around and it’s time for each of us to present a project we are working on to compete for a monthly bonus, Courtney never disappoints. We feel compelled to vote for Courtney’s email campaigns because they are simply brilliant. She juggles dynamic features, responsive design, testing compatibility, performance tracking, and customization flawlessly.
Today, I sat down with Courtney to get the skinny on a recent email campaign she managed for San Francisco Travel. There was so much to learn from this incredibly successful campaign to drive more attendees to their meetings. Here are some takeaways:
San Francisco Travel’s Email Marketing Story
“Well, it seems like the major metro New York area is always a tough audience for getting RSVPs. I guess they’re pretty busy people and their attention span is slightly preoccupied. So when San Francisco Travel partnered with DMOs in New York to host a sales mission this year, like they had with several DMOs across the US, they set their expectations pretty low for attendance in New York. They only expected about 80 RSVPs from a pretty large list.
Their main goal was to tell meeting planners about new offerings in the city and the Bay area, to update them on new hotel availability, promotional offerings, and ultimately, to entice planners to book meetings and conventions in the San Francisco area.”
[Here is another way we addressed a challenge to gather more Meeting Planner Audiences via email.]
On Choosing an Offering that Matches Your Audience
“My team chose a pretty straight forward offering for our copy. We simply told the attendees our goals upfront, but San Francisco Travel did something very smart. They juxtaposed it with an offering of something reflective of the San Francisco culture, learning office yoga and learning new ideas for balancing a better work life through relaxation practices like reflexology. I felt like this offering was perfect the New York audience because it was essentially saying,
‘Hey, slow down a bit, and focus on yourself holistically. You can work and relax too. And we’ll tell you how!’ “
Meeting Planners in New York enjoy a relaxing meeting for the Visit San Francisco Spring Refresh.
How to Make Sure They are Listening by Customizing Your Message
“The offering spoke directly to the audience: It was a Spring Refresh. So the email needed to make sure they were listening to this message. We went with very brand consistent creative that brought New Yorkers a fresh drink of water straight to the invitees inboxes with a powerful visual and the tie in of their branded ‘Always…’ headline.
It was a simple design with dynamic customization for the images, so busy New Yorkers walking through the crowded streets could see the email clearly on their smart phones. The CTA was straight to the point, with a big orange button and little else to click on within the body of the email so people would not get distracted from the primary goal: RSVPs.”
The Results of a Well-Planned Location-Specific Email Marketing Campaign
“For this year’s sales mission, San Francisco attendance goal for New York was 80. However, from the initial email invite alone, they received 83 RSVPs. In total, they received 122 RSVPs!
A design that pulled the theme, offering, and two locations together in one; but kept it simple!
The stats for this particular campaign were all above average as well. The initial invite had a nearly 37% open rate, when other client event invites tend to average around 25%. The click through rate for the invite was 6.5%, where other emails usually receive a 4% to 4.5% CTR.”
Increasing Open Rates with Simple Subject Lines
“This campaign wasn’t tricky. You may read a lot of articles on email marketing strategy that tell you about the power of a question or an ellipsis in your email subjects, but I have found that for certain audiences: You just need to tell them the offering upfront. No fluff!
For instance, we chose: “You’re Invited! Join San Francisco in New York on April 19”
We included the date, because why waste time on invitees that already know they are busy? Also, we already know that San Francisco carries a lot of weight by having a strong reputation among New Yorkers, so there was no need to include extra fluff about the offering details, like “yoga” or “reflexology”. We wanted to tell them upfront that Two great cities are coming together and you are invited. Keep it simple!”
“There is so much you can do with email, so I am a big proponent of considering the location and audience, the atmosphere they are going to likely be in when they receive the email, and building features custom to them. Bold design and a more conservative number of buttons and links will help you guide the viewer to the action you ultimately want. Don’t load up emails with too many links and distractions. Also consider features that might grab their attention and set you apart from others, like animation and video. Even interactive features that engage the audience have proven very successful for many of my campaigns. If you can ask the subscriber to poll, vote or participate in some way, your objectives will feel more inclusive.”
Want help Fine-tuning or Managing a Super Effective Email Campaign for Your DMO?
Check out our website or contact us directly. Courtney and our team are happy to help!
A veteran in Destination and Hotel Sales and Marketing, Shirley utilizes her expertise to develop services that assists DMO’s in research, generating leads and increasing awareness for the destination’s meetings product and experiences.