In October 2011, easyJet invested £50m into a new marketing strategy, repositioning the brand to focus on the experience rather than the price, and it shows.

It cut its 2011/12 winter loss from an estimated £153m to £112 and in October 2012 announced record profits. And looks set to do the same again this year – all despite a well-documented decline in the overseas travel market.

This is in contrast to Ryanair, a brand that has openly admitted it wishes to focus on lowering prices rather than invest heavily in marketing strategy. Given Ryanair’s recent announcement that it achieved record profits, it’s difficult to argue with this position.

Email marketing is not a publicity stunt

Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary’s dismissal of British Airways recent ‘to fly, to serve’ campaign as ‘nonsense’ and infamous tank stunt in 2003 clearly hasn’t damaged profits.

But, it’s no coincidence that travel advertisers are forecast to devote three quarters of online ad spend to direct response formats.

So when it comes to digital marketing strategy, email should be at the forefront of any travel brand’s mind as one of the best channels to produce direct responsive action.

That’s true whether, speaking in terms of marketing psychology, your brand appeals to rational needs with low prices or emotional needs with a superior experience.

Appealing to a consumer’s behavioural needs

Lavidge and Steiner’s ‘Hierarchy of Effects’ marketing model states that potential customers go through three key phases when considering a purchase: cognitive, affective, conative. Simply put, do they know your brand and what it stands for?

Does your brand appeal to their emotional needs, causing them to like or prefer you? Do they want to take action by engaging with your brand or buying from it?

Ryanair and easyJet both have the brand awareness to satisfy phase one, the masses know who they are and what they sell.

So email marketing in this case is about taking recipients through the second two phases, emotionally connecting with and more importantly buying from you, and buying from you repeatedly. 

easyJet emails fulfil these criteria. Its campaign is visually stimulating and personalised, appealing to the affective.

It contains compelling offers with pre-set deadlines, bold CTAs, clear pricing and mobile-optimised buttons and landing pages, appealing to the conative. It makes you want to buy and it’s practical to do so. 

Whereas, from Ryanair’s email, the recipient is not presented with a clear CTA to book the holiday it promotes.

Furthermore, it is not clear from the email that the recipient is receiving a compelling offer. Given Ryanair’s ultralow-cost model, it’s surprising not to see value for money being clearly communicated.

Going back the reference to emotional and rational needs, easyJet’s email appeals to both – playing on the recipients emotional desire to go on holiday to a hot, luxurious destination and rational need of feeling they are getting a good offer.

Ryanair may have been offering a cheaper alternative, but that wasn’t clear from its email at all.

You can download DotMailer’s email benchmark report here, or view its 60 emails in six seconds Vine.