Don’t send another marketing email before reading these essential elements.

Marketing email blasts are a rule of the game to getting more business in the door of your park or FEC. But how do you get your facility off the “Don’t Care About” list and onto the “Don’t Miss Out” list? Email marketing is an opportunity for you to connect with your audience, pique their interest, help communicate your facility’s ability to solve a pain point and to position your brand in your market. Use these seven tips to boost open rates, get more traffic and earn more revenue.

No. 1: Take a bird’s eye view.

First, review your overall email communication strategy for the next twelve months. Take an hour with your school district calendars, government holiday lists, and important dates for your business, and plot those on a blank calendar or spreadsheet. There are so many obscure holidays that can add a little pizazz to your marketing, like National Pizza Day, Laser Tag Day, days to recognize siblings, nonprofit organizations, even Teddy Bear Day. Get creative and strategize new and creative ways to connect with your audience. This can help you plan promotions, photo contests, community outreach events, fundraisers and your group sales outreach efforts. We all know that we have to plan for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but doesn’t a teddy bear drive to help a local children’s hospital sound like a fun in-park activity to do in September when there isn’t another holiday for a while?

Taking broad strokes to outline a general calendar can give you some framework so that you don’t miss out on a great opportunity for engagement, like your facility’s anniversary, important three-day weekends for you to promote lock-ins, and so on.

No. 2: Make room for the magic of inspiration.

One potential misstep you’ll need to watch out for when building a year-long strategy is to not get too tied to your plan. You still need to make way for those last-minute moments of inspiration to hit that can make a big impact. Perhaps you start to get a lot of questions about a certain attraction or topic, or you review your top selling packages and decide to promote something new, be flexible enough to shift content around to make room for fresh and in-the-moment ideas. Still, it’s much better to have the plan and throw it out then to fly by the seat of one’s pants wondering what you’ll communicate to your audience next.

No. 3: Use the tools at your fingertips.

Your facility management software should provide you with a wealth of information at your fingertips that can help you send the right message to the right guests. At a minimum, you have the contact information of every birthday party parent that has ever booked with your facility. If your facility uses waivers, you not only possess contact information for every guest who has entered your facility, but also age, visit data, spending history, and often addresses or zip codes. Use this information wisely. For example, send a targeted email to guests from zip codes whose school districts are nearing the end of the term, or maybe a special birthday party offer for any guest ages 4-13 with an upcoming birthday. Another great idea? Send a personal invitation to join a VIP membership program to guests who have visited more than twice in the last 60 days or have spent over a certain dollar amount, or even a general email about a new group event offering to your entire database. The possibilities are endless (as long as you have opt-in marketing language on your waiver).

No. 4: Pique their interest right away.

Your email subject line has about three seconds to zero in on what matters to a prospect so make it count. Use compelling subject lines, personalization, even emojis (if you’re into that) to get your email opened. Call out a question or make a bold statement about some pain point your facility’s offering solves. Don’t know what your competitive advantage is? Try this:

Get your leaders together around a table and ask: “why would someone come here vs. another entertainment venue or even staying home?”. “Why does someone book events with us?” or even “what have guests told us is important to them when selecting a place for fun (a birthday party, a group event, etc.)?” Any one of these questions will help you begin to uncover what can make your emails get opened, clicked, and acted upon. With that list, you’re ready to write compelling subject lines that have a better chance of winning with your audience. Here are a few that might resonate with you:

  • Tired of the same old company outings?
  • Hassle free birthday parties (and no clean up either).
  • Perfect Pinterest Moms got you down? We can help.
  • Do something different this summer / Mother’s Day / holiday season.
  • (Mom, Dad, Grad) needs something special this insert event here.

Not every email should call out a discount (which eventually leads to what I like to call the “boy who cried wolf syndrome”). Instead, speak to who your ideal guest is, touch on what you hope your brand means to the individual, or how your facility can help with some potential need.

Not convinced? Open your Promotions Inbox right now and read through the marketing emails and see what jumps out at you and why. Here’s what’s got my attention today:

  • Is Chloe protected? – From 1800 Pet

Chloe is my spoiled whippet mix puppy and the light of my life. You can bet I’m going to open an email that references her by name to make sure she’s got her proper medication. Think of your guests, many of whom are parents of actual humans. Perhaps a birthday email asking if they’ve planned Olivia’s 9th birthday party could strike a cord with Mom or Dad.

  • We Miss You: $5 Limited Sale – From Cooking Light Magazine.

I let my subscription expire by accident, but this is a product I used and enjoyed in the past (think your past guests or birthday party attendees). They hooked me with the personalization of missing me—like we’re old friends. Then they sweetened the deal with the discount, which was nice, but unnecessary. 

  • Festival Weekend Outfits – From Buckle clothing store.

What I love about this email is that it calls out a specific event to its target market. Spring is here, but instead of referring to a new warmer-weather outfit, this email subject line suggests a connection through a shared interest (outdoor festivals) that consumers will naturally want to be fashionably outfitted for.

No. 5: Remember it’s not about you.

Once you get past the subject line, carry the connection further. An email is not just a pitch made in writing. Just like every sales conversation, you need to invest a little in your prospect, attempt to discover a need, educate them on how your facility meets that need, and ask them to take action.

I received an email with a subject line that read “Partnership.” Because that is one of the CenterEdge’s core values, I opened it. But upon reading the email, I found that the content was all about how I could help their content company succeed. Wrong approach. Ask not what your prospect can do for you—instead invite them to discover what you can do for them. Put yourself in their shoes. Make sure that the body of the email further identifies some pain point or hot button, how you’re set up to address it, and what they can do to act now or learn more.

No. 6: Include multiple calls to action.

Don’t ever hit send on an email without ensuring that it has several invitations for your guests to act now or contact you for more information. Images highlighting different types of programs in your facility can be made to link to specific paths on your web site, and of course, a Book Now button can lead a guest right to your web store.

Keep in mind that guests need different methods of contacting you so be sure to include any and all contact methods. This might seem obvious, but it’s not. In fact, I recently sent out invitations to events asking for RSVPs in which I referenced a phone number for replies. A guest mentioned having trouble finding the time to call me, and when I mentioned texting, she admitted that she hadn’t thought of texting. That’s the problem with assumptions. It wasn’t obvious in my invitation that I could receive responses via phone or text message. Don’t fall victim to assumptions—be specific about a prospect’s next action to take.

No. 7: Turn marketing into sales.

Implementing any of the previous six tips is a great start to stronger inbound marketing. That said, anyone who clicks on calls to action but doesn’t get to the purchase stage is still potentially a hot lead. To maximize the potential of this relationship, don’t leave the monkey on your prospect’s back. Follow up on those hot leads with sales calls to see where your facility might meet a need they have. But don’t make the mistake of entering the conversation thinking you’re at the “ask stage” of the sales pipeline. You still have to follow your process and take the time with the prospective guest to build the relationship, and the case, for your facility’s offering.

While by no means an exhaustive list, these tips can help you strengthen your bonds with your audience. Have any marketing email tips that you swear by? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

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