Small businesses face all kinds of obstacles when it comes to driving repeat business.
It’s not that your customers don’t want to come back. But if you don’t give them a reason to connect with you, your business might slip from their minds.
That’s where email marketing comes in.
Sending regular emails keeps your business fresh in your customers’ minds and entices them to reconnect with your business.
Just ask Kaarina Vera, marketing director at The Inn at Seaside in Seaside, Oregon. Kaarina uses her email list as a way to stay in touch with her existing customers and encourage them to stay again.
“It’s important to maintain our guests and market (and remarket) to them. All of these are returning guests that have stayed with us. It’s important to keep them by sending these emails.”
Let’s take a look at her approach and how it can work for your business:
1. Use eye-catching images and attractive design.
A chief challenge in email marketing is creating an email that is visually appealing, fresh, and engaging.
Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional designer to make a great impression in the inbox; all you need is an email template, customized with your business branding.
Here’s an example from the Inn at Seaside:
In this email, you can see Kaarina starts with the Inn’s logo, an engaging headline, and a vibrantly colored beach photo.
Following the photo, there is a quick message followed by a very clear call to action: “Book Your Beach Trip”.
Keeping your message short without a lot of adornment leads to great open and click rates. In the example above, Kaarina received a 23 percent open rate and 11 percent click-through rate, resulting in over 300 clicks to the Inn’s website.
Best of all, once you have a look and feel you like, you can save time by creating a reusable email template, which allows new content (like seasonal images and the current specials) to be easily added without needing to reinvent the wheel every time.
“We kind of just use our templates and then copy them and redo them,” Kaarina said.
2. Drive bookings with timely offers.
The average reading time for an email is measured in seconds. That’s almost no time for you to get your message across.
Make good use of short attention spans with an offer your subscribers can’t ignore. This is one of the main reasons Kaarina first turned to email marketing:
“We started using it to market to returning guests, letting them know, ‘Hey, there’s a special’,” she explains.
Here’s how Kaarina promoted the inn’s recent pre-summer special:
For these promotions, timing is important. Send an email when your customers are likely considering going on a summer vacation or attending a convention. Pique their interest with upcoming events, remind them of why they liked you to begin with, and offer a small incentive to book again.
The email above resulted in over 370 website visits, with over 320 of those clicks going directly to the inn’s reservation page.
3. Use your repeat customers to drive new business.
One of the best things about repeat customers is they can help get the word out about your business. Inn at Seaside encourages their customers to leave reviews for their business, which they feature in their email marketing, as well as social media.
When someone hears about the Inn at Seaside for the first time, they can easily see positive reviews and endorsements from returning guests.
Additionally, if a guest hasn’t returned in a while, being reminded of these special moments could be just the push they need to come back.
Tip: You can encourage repeat customers to support your business by asking them to share your email with their friends.
Small businesses have enough to worry about.
Retaining and re-engaging past customers shouldn’t be a pain point.
Follow these simple and repeatable steps to get those existing customers back and generate the word-of-mouth promotion that you can’t pay for.