At Hotels.com, email plays a key role in our marketing mix. We have localised websites around the world and run email programmes in 85 countries in 35 different languages utilising newsletters as well as triggered and transactional initiatives.
Many of these markets can be classed as mature but, for emerging markets, one of the first questions to address is when to introduce email into the frame?
What criteria should be used to judge the optimum moment to begin and how should the programme develop?
Start small and simple
With any new territory, it naturally takes a period of time to build up a critical mass of subscribers. Begin with simple newsletters that are consistent across the region, featuring generic content, before gradually increasing frequency.
Then introduce simple triggered programmes and you’ve got yourself an email programme…
Grow your mailing list
If everything is going to plan, you’re now monetising the database and can move into acquisition mode.
Up to now, growth would have been organic but you can now build up numbers by spending money to add customers through list rental, co-registration initiatives, prize draws, sweepstakes and such like. Sales promotions and partnership activity can help here as well.
Introduce a portfolio approach
When targeting a new region for the first time, begin by structuring a point of sale regionally so that the biggest country in the region determines the calendar – it may not be optimal but it is better than nothing and a good place to start.
Invest a disproportionate amount of time in testing, learning and refining here before cascading the findings down to the smaller markets.
Localise, localise, localise
Once your database has reached a reasonable size, move to localisation of content and promotions but make sure you cut your coat according to your cloth and match your level of effort to your likely return.
Localising is not just a question of translation as there are many other differences that you must consider. For instance, at Hotels.com we take into account what destinations we feature – where Australian travellers like to go is very different from our Korean customers – what promotions we offer, the currency display, time of day for deployment, etc.
This is especially important when running region-wide promotions. While it makes sense to have promotions that are consistent across all of the smaller territories, there will always be local sensitivities with regard to different seasons and holidays.
For instance, in Russia New Year is far more important than Christmas and the holiday period begins two weeks later than the rest of Europe.
Measure each market
As with any email programme it is important to put a system in place to measure the impact you are having.
When targeting a new region, it is imperative that you monitor results in individual markets, not just as part of the region where it would be easy for issues such as deliverability to slip under the radar and individual performance to be lost in the regional average.
Offer valuable content
As always with email, do consider if you genuinely have something of value to say to your customer. You don’t want to waste your time, efforts and budgets producing something that nobody wants.
A well-organised email programme should be an eye-catching, inspirational and gainful part of the marketing mix.