From your website to phone calls, every interaction between your business and your customers carries the power to delight or disappoint. Emails are no different—and, perhaps, carry even more weight. Consider that the average number of business-related emails sent and received is set to soar, from 121 each day in 2014 to more than 140 per day by 2018, according to the 2014-2018 Email Statistics Report by The Radicati Group. So it's vital for your emails to be a part of your "wow" factor.
Consider the types of emails you send: confirmation, reminder, review, cancellation, and refund. While each contains important information, they don't have to be dry. Let the personality and warmth that you bring to your tours and activities shine through. Add a human face to your business.
Here's how to make the best use of each type of email.
1. Confirmation Email
Your customers chose you for their special experience – let them know you're happy to be a part of their big day. Use a conversational tone, even cracking a few jokes if that's your persona. Like that Southwest Airlines safety briefing (where the flight attendant said, “In the event you haven't been in an automobile since 1960, flight attendants still have to show you how to fasten a seatbelt"), a little humor can help keep people's attention through the boring stuff. Most importantly: be authentic.
Here's how to make sure your confirmation email isn't dull:
- Feature other recommended products and services. Amazon says the best time to sell something is right after a purchase, so why not offer your memorabilia, photo packages, or additional experiences?
- Offer discounts for referrals and encourage customers to book with a friend
- Include related links to build the anticipation; a bike-tour business could link to an article covering the top sites in the city, or a scuba diving school could link to a gallery of photos of sea life from other divers.
But make sure you're still checking all the boxes:
- Provide parking instructions or a meeting location, with a link to a map
- Include what to bring (footwear, sunscreen, gloves, etc.)
- Link to a waiver, which customers can fill out and bring with them
- Include links to your social media sites so customers can follow you for updates
- Always include a clear call-to-action based on what you want the customer to do: check out your online store, sign up for your newsletter, or forward the experience to a friend
- Use consistent branding by making your logo prominent in the email header
- Use subject lines that make it easy to search for the email, such as "Welcome to Your Wildlife Adventure" or "See You in Country Cooking School Class"
2. Reminder Email
Send a reminder email a week to a few days prior to the scheduled experience. (You can also send another one closer to the event with more details, if necessary.) Many footraces send a series of reminder emails leading up to race day, with information on parking, bib and race packet pick-up, and incentives for referring friends.
A detailed reminder email gives customers a full picture of what to expect and reduces the number of follow-up questions you'll receive. In addition to the usual details (meeting time, location and directions, what to wear and bring, etc.), you can include:
- A note on bathrooms. This might be helpful to include if there won't be any public bathrooms available for any portion of the experience.
- Safety tips, like: "Make sure you hydrate and bring a warmer layer" or "Wear long pants because there will be poison oak on some trails."
- Public parking. Is there free public parking, a garage, or metered street parking? Let your customers know so they can be prepared.
- A note on tipping. For example, Urban Hiker SF includes the following note at the bottom of their reminder email: "Tips are optional, but always appreciated. You're helping a small business succeed. The tip amount is at your discretion, but as a rough guide, consider giving 10 to 15 percent."
3. Review Email
Follow up with customers after their experience to thank them personally. You can ask for feedback and/or an online review, or include a link to a form or survey. Of course, make yourself available for direct contact if they have a serious matter to bring to your attention.
Your survey questions can help you get real insights into your customers' experiences and satisfaction. Here's how to keep your survey balanced and even-handed so you can see people's true attitudes instead of what they think you want to hear.
- Ask specific questions. Don't ask, "Was the experience enjoyable and a good value?"Instead, ask about each part (the food, the service, the activity, etc.) so respondents can focus their answers.
- Be neutral. Don't ask, "Did you have a great experience with your tour guide?" Instead, ask, "How was your experience with your tour guide?"
- Include options such as "other" or "not applicable" so you don't force people to make a selection that's not true.
Once again, include buttons to your social media profiles and your blog. Let customers know how to share photos and videos, and give them hashtags and handles so they can follow your sites and other people who've shared the same experience.
Remind your customers to share the experience with a friend to get a discount towards their next booking. For instance, Intrepid Travel, a provider of small-group local adventures, offers a tiered loyalty program: a small discount for booking one trip, and a larger discount for those who have booked three trips. Those who book nine trips received the 10th one free, and special "Intrepid Legend" status.
Remember to always keep the call to action simple, and don't emphasize too many things. Choose one that's important to you, such as asking for feedback. Test offers to see which one brings the best response, like submitting a photo or posting a review.
4. Cancellation/Refund Email
Keep your friendly tone even in the cancellation email. Remember, a well-received cancellation email could lead to you recovering the booking at a later date. Your cancellation email should be specific about the terms, such as any fees, refund amount, and delivery method and timing of refunds. Give them a link to reschedule the experience, perhaps with no fee if it's within a certain time period. Ask for people to let them know why they cancelled — be it personal reasons, work, or weather.
Although some legal fine print may be necessary for the cancellation/refund policy, the overall tone here should be just as welcoming as your confirmation email. After all, it's not always about you. It's usually about them. Remind them they're missing out on an unforgettable experience and give them easy ways to re-book and refer people.
You company's emails are an important touchstone to building a stronger, more lasting relationship with your customers. Avoid being dry, but keep your image and voice consistent with other channels that your customers could encounter (your website, advertising, social media, etc.).
You can streamline your emails with ZOZI Advance, which currently allows you to customize and automate all four types of emails. Merchants can also use ZOZI Advance to customize and add personalized messages with text or HTML tags for you to easily make your message consistent and memorable.