I’ll have to confess: this post is part rant and part strategy. In addition to being a marketing consultant, I am of course an avid internet user outside of consulting work. I research stuff, buy things and book trips online just like the guests I find for my clients.
And, as a consumer, I despise poor email capture techniques. It’s lazy, makes your brand cheap and can even upset a guest/customer before they’ve ever read one word of copy on your website.
Let me be clear: email modals and other capture forms on your website can be very effective, but they can also be done in a way that doesn’t ask your guest for too much too early and nets you loyal email subscribers.
Email marketing is the most controllable, cheapest form of digital marketing there is — but it comes with a catch. Netting email subscribers takes time and the right strategies. Put simply, the more guests and potential guests on your email newsletters, the higher a chance of snagging more bookings when you send out promotional messages. Today, we’re going to dive in on email collection popups (sometimes referred to as modals) as a means to grow your list and earn more every single time you send out a message.
While most clients I work with have a page on their website dedicated to signing up for a “newsletter”, I find these often have very low conversion rates. I’ve even seen examples where clients had these forms on their websites for months at a time only to add exactly zero guests to their list.
Let’s begin to break down the tactics I use to collect more emails for newsletters that get bookings and drive revenue with email modals and popups. Note: there are affiliate links in this post.
Timing, Timing, Timing
How not to do email capture in one gif. pic.twitter.com/gyfFgHZ9cA
— Conrad O'Connell (@conradoconnell) July 7, 2016
This is my far the most common mistake that most hospitality companies make with their email modals: they are far too eager. If real estate is all about location, location and location then modals are all about timing, timing, timing. During my research for this article, I found lots of websites where the email popup modal literally came up on the first pageview — not leaving any time for me to even see the text content and images under the modal. This is terrible for your conversion rate and often leads to higher bounce rates on your website as well. It makes a guest feel like your website is “gated” and they can’t enter until they’ve added their email to yet another marketing list. It’d be like walking up to someone in a retail store just after making it into the front door asking for a store credit card signup.
My personal rule: at least two pageviews and often three pageviews until I show any email modal to encourage a guest to signup. Let your guest interact with the homepage of the website: enter their travel dates, see rental or room options and then try to ask for an email. Closing too early comes off as desperate and off-putting.
Using OptinMonster, adding these options is very straightforward with their Display Rules engine. For my site, I am currently using a “slide-up” box on the bottom right of my site, so I do not feel that two pageviews are needed for it to show up. However, for more visual modals, I stick with two pageviews before showing the modal.
The Display Rules engine by OptinMonster is really well done — easy to pick the rules that you want so that guests won’t see your modal before you’re ready to show it. You could even target specific pages (like the checkout page on your website) to present a very timely offer to the guest. If a guest has made it that deep into the checkout funnel, offering a discount or similar offer may make it worth the small loss in revenue if it means booking an otherwise open week.
Of course, learning what to offer is another area that’s worth exploring. Read on to learn what to offer in your email newsletter signup form.
A newsletter only-signup can work okay, but offering tangible value works a lot better. For many of my clients, this often means that we offer discounts, specials or other incentives to encourage a guest to book with us.
Common offers that I have worked with and seen higher-than-average optin rates from include:
- $25 (or more) discounts via a promo code
- Free equipment rentals (paddle boards, kayaks, bikes, grills, ect)
- Included “extras” like move tickets, restaurant gift cards, wine bottles
- Extra nights (three nights for the price of two)
You could test, mix and match these offers to learn what works best for your destination. If you’re currently running any ads or have data from previous email newsletter promotions, you may know what works best already. Start there and increase your testing after you’ve got one modal up and running.
Going Away When Closed
This guideline is really quite simple: when you close the modal popup, it shouldn’t come back anytime soon. This means that closing the popup shouldn’t make it come back up a few pages later or in another browsing session on that same computer or phone. Closing the popup should be easy: ideally with a large “X” and clicking outside of the popup should also close the form.
Lastly, setting a cookie when the guest does close the popup is a good idea. As I mentioned above, you don’t want to annoy your guests with the same popup over and over again if they return to your website. Many of the third-party software tools like OptinMonster and SumoMe do this for you.
A/B Testing Copy + Images
Even if you’re following all of the rules above, it’s still worth testing! Try running a true A/B test with different offers and the same modal design, or try to switch up templates and see what nets you the highest conversion rate. It’s worth reviewing what offers or designs appeal to your guests: photos of people or photos of your rental properties? There is no “one size fits all” element to this type of design testing. It’s worth experimenting with different images to see what works best.
In addition to testing images, copy testing is a great idea too. You may want to vary what copy you use on your signup button or modal as well as what copy you use above the fold, too. Making your button just be “Submit” will often not work as well as adding in “Sign Up Instantly” or “Send Me The Discount” as the button copy.
Rotating In New Offers
In addition to testing copy and images, you’ll want to rotate in new offers as well. Just as you do not send the same email newsletter message in January and August, your modals should update too. In this case, that means changing the offer amount (can you offer a better discount during your shoulder season compared to your peak season?), promotion, discount or equipment rental offer. You can also change in season offers relating to events or other things to do in your area.
For example, during the time period where guests may be booking for a wine festival in town, you may want to offer a gift card to the local liquor store or wine tasting bar in your area. For families that are booking rental homes in Orlando, meal discounts in Disney could be very appealing as well. The list depends on your target market and what you’re able to offer, but trying new offers keeps your marketing fresh.
Not Just Modals: Slide Up Capture Forms, Giveaways & Blog Posts
While we’ve covered a lot of ground today on email modals, you can use other email collection tactics as well. If you prefer an email style that is very simple and non-intrustive, you can test using “slide-up” boxes that show on the bottom right side of your website and only show after a guest has reached the bottom of your page.
Also, you can use other email capture techniques like a giveaway page (giving away free stays is a very good way to grow your list, but keep in mind many of those emails will never book) and encourage signups on your blog content as well.
If the blog section of your website gets a lot of traffic from guests learning more about your destination, try offering an “Insider’s Guide” or similar content to get a new lead. Offering a discount to someone that has no intention of booking probably means the conversion rate will suffer: but you can work around that! It’s possible that these (potential) guests are not going to book anytime soon, but you can add them to your email list and market to these warm (but not hot) leads as well over time.