Increase Email Clickthrough Rates: Four Tips for Hotel Marketers


To increase direct bookings with email marketing, you first have to deliver engaging campaigns. Sometimes it’s hard to know what will work with your audience, so it’s a good idea to implement a metrics-driven strategy. Gone are the Mad Men days of gut instinct. Today’s email marketing, especially for hotel audiences, is highly scientific. You should be measuring everything: Test, check your metrics, try something new based on those metrics, and test again.

We’ve talked before about ways to increase your email open rates, which are a sign that elements like your subject line and sender title are working well for you. Now you have to get your guests to click through to your site and actually buy. Here are some ways to evaluate the content of your email.

Defining Click Through Rate (CTR) vs Click to Open Rate (CTOR)

Boosting clicks from your email campaigns begins with a clear understanding of the metrics that track success.

Let’s take an example: You send an email to 100 people. 30 people open the email. 12 of those people clicked on the call-to-action at least once.

A clickthrough rate is the percentage of delivered emails that had at least one click. So, if you send a message to 100 people and 12 click on its link, you have a CTR of 12%. Use CTR to measure general engagement.

A click to open rate is the percentage of opened emails that have at least one click. In this two-step formula, you divide the number of recipients who click on a link (12) by the number of recipients who open the email (30) to arrive at a CTOR (40%). Use CTOR for gauging the performance of the content of the email itself.

Remember, CTR is affected by factors like subject line and sender title because it’s a percentage of people who clicked out of the total number of emails sent. So if you want a true indicator of how the internal content of the email is performing, CTOR is going to give you that information.

What links to track

In general, it’s a good best practice to build your marketing emails with one clear call-to-action. But in the case that you want to link to sources or other supporting information, there are ways to track and measure your guests’ interest in these. You should mark up your email template to designate primary, secondary, and tertiary links.

Your primary link should be your main call-to-action button. You can also include images in this number, as images often garner a lot of attention. TRACK THESE.

Your secondary links should be more subtle, complementary content, like in-text links or smaller images that have a business purpose. TRACK THESE.

Your tertiary links should be your social media and site navigation buttons. You don’t need to track these.

Four areas you can test that will increase clicks

Sending to the right guests

Segmentation, or the practice of sending emails to groups of people that have things in common, is one way to increase the relevance of your content to your guests. You can try segmenting by items like interest or topic, or even by past behavior.

For example, to get higher engagement and more clicks (and ultimately, more revenue), an email about a new high-end golf simulator on property could be sent to past guests who have previously booked a tee time. This email might not be engaging or relevant to families, for example, but will be considered valuable if sent to the right audience.

Designing for intent

The idea behind designing for intent is to think about the entire experience you want to deliver with each campaign. Think about your hotel’s unique brand voice. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your guests? Once you have a solid understanding of what you want to communicate, then you can think about how you want to communicate that with calls-to-action, copy, and the design of the email itself.

For example, one thing you really should be considering is mobile optimization. According to Litmus, 53% of emails are opened on mobile. So if your design looks messy on a phone, you’re certainly not building the relationship with your guests that you want.

Designing with focus

As mentioned before, your email should have clear focus with no unintentional distractions from your primary call-to-action. The key is to be as clear as possible with your message and clearly communicate what you want your guests to do.

Some things you can test are removing secondary and tertiary links to make your primary call-to-action stand out. You should also think about the fold – does your primary call-to-action appear below the line of the first page? In other words, do your guests have to scroll to see it? Think about how that might affect your CTOR.

Writing better copy

Optimizing your copy and buttons is another way to improve your CTOR.

For copy tests, think about your tone and message. You might even be able to use different tones and messages for different segments of guests. Past guests who previously stayed on business can get one tone or message, while families can get another. You should also think about the copy from the WIIFM perspective (ask yourself: What’s in it for me?). From your guests’ perspectives, how does taking action on this email make their lives better?

For buttons, a good way to think about composing copy is to use the sentence “I want you to {button text}” – I want you to Sign Up, Book Now, Register, Shop Now…the possibilities are pretty endless, depending on what the goal of your email is.

Tip: Don’t rely on a button alone. Sometimes people want to see the link in clickable text. It might be a matter of trusting what’s on the other side of that button, but in my experience, it’s a good idea to include the button link in one other secondary link in the email.

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