10 Tips on Email Marketing to Increase Your Short-Term Rental Bookings


email marketing tips

More than 138% — that’s how much more consumers who receive marketing emails spend than those who don’t receive marketing emails. What could your vacation rental business do with an increase in revenue like that? We’re guessing the answer is a lot.

There’s no getting around it. Email marketing is an essential part of any vacation rental marketing strategy in 2021. The general consensus is that email works for vacation rentals, but that isn’t true for every short-term rental business that sends marketing emails. That’s because you have to do it right.

With these 10 tips on email marketing for vacation rental businesses, you’ll have everything you need to make sure you’re getting real ROI on your email marketing investment. In other words, these tips will help you get more bookings. Let’s dive in.

Tips on Email Marketing to Build Your Subscriber List

We need to begin with email marketing tips that focus on growing your subscriber base. Why? Because the more people you have reading your marketing emails, the more bookings you stand to get.

1. Use Your Guest Book

This is the simplest way to get more email subscribers: make sure the guest books at your properties have a space for guests to leave their email addresses. You may run into the problem of illegible handwriting, but that’s easily solved: digital guest books are a simple upgrade that keep all entries neat and tidy. You can use almost any device and platform to facilitate this, and it has the added benefit of giving guests the chance to sign in/leave feedback even after they’ve left the rental.

Man using a tablet on vacation reading about tips on email marketing ;)
Digital guestbooks are a great way to capture emails from guests

2. Capture Contacts from Your WiFi Sign-In

It’s 2021 — everyone uses the WiFi at your short-term rental properties. So, why not capitalize on that to grow your email list? The best part of asking for guests’ email addresses before they can use your WiFi is that it doesn’t feel intrusive. People are used to having to provide some level of identifying information to use complimentary WiFi.

Several services will help you set this up. StayFi is probably the most well-known example, but as long as your chosen service allows you to ask for email addresses at the point of WiFi login, you’re going to see your contact list grow quickly.

3. Invest in Lead Magnets

A lead magnet is a free piece of content you can give to people in exchange for their contact information, including their email address. When people are thinking about traveling to your area, they want to know more about it. This gives you a prime opportunity to create a lead magnet you can use to get more email subscribers.

lead magnet

Try creating a guide to travel in your area, and make sure it includes your unique expertise that people can’t find anywhere else. Maybe you know everything there is to know about finding the best surfing spots at beaches near your vacation rental. Create that guide, and then offer it to people who visit your website in exchange for their email address. 

This way, you get email addresses for people who very likely will visit your area soon, and you’ll be the first short-term rental that comes to mind.

4. Offer Discounts for Email Signups

Simple but effective — that’s a description that fits the best email marketing tips, and it certainly applies here. On your website, make it clear to visitors that they can get a discount on their booking with you (or a related product or service you offer) if they sign up for your email list. People love discounts, and an email address isn’t much to ask in exchange for one.

Short-Term Rental Email Marketing to Get More Bookings

Short-term rental email marketing has one primary goal: get more bookings. That’s what these tips are all about.

5. Increase Email Open Rates with Great Subject Lines

If no one is opening your emails, your email marketing isn’t doing you much good. The number one way to increase open rates is with your subject line. So, give this area some special attention.

Writing subject lines is an art — it takes practice and trial and error before you get it down well. But no matter the level of skill you have in this area, you can increase open rates with the following subject line tips:

  • Be clear and concise. On some smartphone email apps, only the first 30 characters of a subject line is visible. Get the message across quickly and clearly.
  • Personalize your subject lines. Some email apps will help you automatically add the first name of each contact to the subject line. Take advantage of that. It could boost your open rate by as much as 26%.
  • Consider using emojis. Emails with emojis in the subject lines often get higher open rates — sometimes as much as 56% higher
  • Use powerful verbs. Verbs are the strongest words in the English language. In subject lines, they get attention. Tell subscribers to take action by using verbs, and watch your open rate climb.

6. Show Subscribers What They’re Missing

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is thinking about traveling to a new destination (yours). They’re imagining what it will be like, and a big part of that is thinking about what they might see. 

To boost the ROI of your short-term rental email marketing, don’t leave your subscribers to their own imaginations — instead, show them what they’re missing. Use real photos and videos, and take the time to describe the place you represent. Give them more reasons to want to come and book with you.

View of mountains with clouds overhead and a lake nearby.
Imagine being here…

7. Make Sure Your Emails Are Mobile-Responsive

In 2021, there’s no excuse for skipping mobile responsiveness when it comes to email marketing. Roughly half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. If your emails aren’t mobile responsive, it stands to reason that, roughly half of the time, your emails are not looking their best when people open them on their smartphones.

Responsiveness refers to an email’s ability to render correctly on different devices. If you’re only sending emails optimized for desktop reading, they may look terrible on mobile, and that’s going to cause people to delete the emails and opt out of your subscriber list.

You can test whether your emails are mobile-responsive yourself by sending one just to you and opening it on your phone. Also, most email marketing platforms offer pre-built mobile-responsive email templates.

8. Monitor Email Performance and Adjust

This is one of the best email marketing tips for vacation rental owners because it can yield the biggest results over the long term. And it’s simple. You need to pay attention to metrics like the following:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Email sharing and forwarding rate

And you need to adjust your email marketing efforts based on those metrics. For example, if you notice that, after you added an emoji to the subject line of a monthly email, your open rate suddenly jumped by 50%, you need to consider adding emojis to future emails to increase your open rate again. On the other hand, if you write an email about places to eat in your area and your unsubscribe rate spikes, you may need to focus more on strict travel and booking topics to prevent further unsubscribes.

9. Build Drip Campaigns

This advice may not fall squarely into the “email marketing tips” category because it’s more of a long-term action than a tip, but it’s important. You need to create email drip campaigns.

Drip campaigns are simply a pre-made set of emails that are sent to guests, new subscribers or any other specific group at predetermined times. You can have several of these meant for people in different stages of the sales funnel. The idea is to help move recipients from where they are currently to the ultimate destination: booking a stay at your property.

Here’s an example of how an email drip campaign series might go:

  • Someone subscribes to your email list. 
  • They get an immediate welcome email telling them about your property and the kinds of emails you’re going to send them.
  • One week later, they get an email that contains your comprehensive guide to travel in your area.
  • Two weeks later, they get an email that offers them a 10% discount if they book within the next two days.
  • If they haven’t yet booked after two days, the subscriber gets another email saying you’re extending the discount offer for another week.

10. Use Incredible Visuals

Travel is all about seeing new things. And if you visit any travel blog, you’ll see that our industry relies heavily on images and videos. Nothing can quite capture a travel destination like a gorgeous professional photo. 

Any list of tips on email marketing for vacation rental businesses would be incomplete without the advice to invest the time and money it takes to find or create stunning photos or videos of your local area and use them in your emails. These assets grab attention, spark an emotional connection between recipients and the destination depicted and can result in more bookings for you.

view of the ski lift on a snowy mountain
If you’re a ski slope enthusiast, this photo would certainly encourage you to think about your next ski vacation.

The Best Email Marketing Tips from the Best Vacation Rental Marketers

The potential ROI of short-term rental email marketing is high. Done right, your email marketing can provide a steady stream of bookings from your email subscriber list. And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Of course it is. It’s the point of all types of marketing for vacation rental businesses.

At Magnetic Strategy, we pride ourselves on our vacation rental email marketing prowess. That’s why we offer it as a service to vacation rental businesses like yours.

Interested in working with the best? Then work with us. Give us a call at 623-226-8518 or contact us online today.

Mike Archer
Mike Archer

Mike has over 17 years of experience in the digital marketing field, beginning his career in-house at one of the nation’s top sporting goods manufacturers, followed by succe...

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