In the previous posting, I mentioned how effective VIDEO marketing on your website can be. It offers an advantage to be exploited in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts to attract bookings. This technique, and the recent bombardments from all directions and talk about Social Media and its usefulness for marketing exposure, and the typical marketing channels…the B&B directories, rack cards, websites with professional photography, blogs with links to your website and others…WOW! How does an inn do all this stuff? How much will it cost an inn when pennies count? And does it give a return on the investment made?
Top of Mind…Top of Market: I unshamefully (is that a word?) stole that line from a friend of mine, Ted Foti, who is a marketing consultant in the Baltimore area. Worthy of this petty theft, the concept works for our B&B industry as well. When someone asks “Where’s a good place to stay around here?”, the answer should be on the top of the mind of your guerrilla marketer…the gas station attendant, the restauranteur, the college admissions office, your past guests. These are the ambassadors of YOUR inn. The goals of your marketing exposure includes the frequency and quality of your message.
Although video is an advantage to your website and can be RSS linked to Social Media networks, email is STILL the preferred media the communcating world wants. Arlene Satchell in her article “Social Networks’ Popularity Doesn’t Hurt E-Mail Marketing’s Success”, (RISmedia, May 15), states that according to Forrester Research, “90% of online Americans currently use e-mail as a mainstream communication channel”. And the relatively inexpensive costs, when compared to the potential results, yields a return on the investment that cannot be ignored. E-Mail is still the central hub for pushing communications to people.
Constant Contact, among others, offers a templated service to make email marketing a snap. I currently use this service for both Newsletters and E-Mail “blasts”…short notices going out to targeted folks. I categorize my database by groups (e.g. aspiring innkeepers, current innkeepers), by state, and demographic groupings. I can send a newsletter to all, or to a select few, depending on which groups I select. Be sure to put links in your newsletters and emails BACK to your website to encourage traffic to your online booking features. For a couple of bucks more, I can use their survey feature. And so can you! Imagine the worthwhile feedback you can get from your past guests by sending out a thoughtful, well-positioned survey!
The cost is almost irrelevant and can fit any budget. It starts at about $15 per month for up to 500 addresses. And there are features to help LOAD your email database into the Constant Contact database (a typical excuse I hear for not getting started). You can send as many emails or newsletters as you want, although being prudent is always advisable. Your messages are more memorable , and less likely to be “opted-out”, if they are not annoyingly too frequent. Once a quarter is a good goal. Perhaps sending a newsletter quarterly and an email (of specials and area attractions) quarterly on off months from your newsletter.
I am not a paid sponsor of Constant Contact! I’m just a user. There are other services as well in about the same price range such as YMLP (Your Mailing List Provider). My point is the ease and low-cost that this alternative offers to your marketing plan’s completeness.
Social Media offers an alternative channel, for sure. One more technique for staying on Top of Mind.
Your quality Website is important…probably THE MOST important. But it is passive…guests have to find YOU. E-mail marketing offers a proactive alternative to talking to your guests…to stay on Top of Mind.
Anybody out there currently using Constant Contact? Like it? Like other services?