The Death of Email Marketing As We Know It Is Coming This Fall


In traditional email marketing, remote images that load when an email is viewed or invisible tracking pixels are used to track email opens and collect information about the recipient’s device, such as the IP address.

As announced at MacWorld 2021, Apple is introducing a new Mail Privacy Protection with its upcoming iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey updates, which will disable many of email marketers’ email tracking and data collection capabilities.

According to Apple, its upcoming Mail Privacy Protection feature “prevents senders from using invisible pixels to collect user information.” The new feature enables users to conceal when they open an email and masks their IP address, preventing it from being associated with other online activity or used to determine their location.”

Also, Apple will introduce a new feature called “Hide My Email,” which will enable users to “share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox whenever they wish to keep their personal email address private.” Additionally, the feature enables users to create and delete as many addresses as necessary at any time, allowing users to maintain control over who can contact them.”

Why is this new development important?

In Q1 2021, the iPhone and iPad accounted for 40.3 percent of all email users. More importantly, 43% of all emails are opened on smartphones, and Apple’s iPhone alone accounts for 90% of email opens (Litmus).

This is not the first time email marketing has taken a significant hit. Gmail, which is used by over 1.5 billion people worldwide, uses an algorithm to determine which emails sent to your mailbox are marketing emails and automatically labels them as promotional and directs them to the rarely-visited “Promotions” folder.

What does it all mean for hotel marketers?

Hotel marketers will be unable to track, target, analyze, optimize, and report on several critical email marketing benchmarks and capabilities as a result of this new privacy update:
Open Rate: This is a critical metric because it indicates how many of your marketing emails have been opened and read, as well as how enticing and creative your subject line is, as well as how appealing the promotion is.
Time Email Was Opened: A critical metric that aids marketers in timing their campaigns, especially for limited-time offers and promotions.
Geo-targeting by IP address: Because Apple will mask the recipient’s IP address, geo-targeting by IP address will be disabled, which was a critical capability for email marketers until now.

In addition, information about the user’s device will be hidden, preventing marketers from targeting by device or dynamically changing the email format based on the device (mobile, iPad, desktop).

Marketers will no longer be able to dynamically personalize the subject line based on pixel-derived data.

So what will email marketers be able to track in the future?

The Email Service Provider provides the number of emails sent and delivered (ESP)

Naturally, if marketers use analytical tools such as Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics, they will track clickthrough rates and conversions.

What should hotel marketers do?

Apple’s latest privacy protection move is not an isolated incident, but is part of a broader strategy of privacy protection by all of the technology and Internet giants, including Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. For instance, Apple recently reduced and effectively eliminated the identifier for advertisers, or IDFA, the sole tool advertisers used to precisely target and track users within iOS apps. Google intends to disable third-party cookies in its popular Chrome browser by the end of 2021, following Apple’s Safari and Firefox’s lead a few years ago.

All of these advancements in privacy protection emphasize the critical nature of first-party data, including first-party cookies, which enable you to build direct relationships with your potential, past, present, and future customers, personalize and automate their marketing, and geo-target them based on their physical address, rather than their IP address, which is increasingly being blocked by recent privacy protection measures.

In hospitality, first-party data refers to customer information (past customers and guests, website users, opt-in email subscribers, lists of corporate travel managers, meeting planners, wedding and event planners, and SMERF group leaders with whom the property has conducted business or communicated, etc.) obtained through the property’s PMS, CRS, WBE, or CRM program, or via the property’s website, opt-in email sign-up.

By geotargeting past and potential customers using their physical addresses, you can run successful email marketing campaigns and personalize your marketing messages, promotions, packages, and offers based on your in-depth knowledge of the customer, increasing clickthroughs, conversions, and revenue.

How do you manage your first-party data?

The answer is straightforward: by investing in customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platform (CDP) technologies.
A CDP enables any hotel company to collect, store, and manage all of its first-party customer data – online and offline – and to have it automatically cleansed, de-duped, enriched, and appended in real time, thereby creating the customer’s “single source of truth.” Cendyn’s cloud Starling CDP is an industry example of CDP technology in action. CDP data feeds are then used in operations, guest communications, guest services, CRM communications and marketing automation, email marketing, personalization and digital marketing, and loyalty marketing initiatives, among other applications, to significantly improve the customer experience, efficiency, and profitability.

Not only can a CRM program and technology create 360-degree guest profiles, but they can also categorize past guests based on their RFM value (Recency, Frequency, Monetary), augment guest profiles with preferences, social media ambassadorship, and customer engagement data, and conduct marketing automation and drip marketing campaigns prior to, during, and after their stay. CRM technology is used in the following industries: Cendyn CRM, SHR Maverick CRM, Revinate CRM, and others.

How do you increase the size of your first-party data?

There are two primary strategies:
Provide value in exchange for customer data
The purpose of these initiatives is to entice potential or existing customers to voluntarily provide their information (opt-in) via incentives or future gains, perks, and benefits in exchange for being directly marketed to. The term “value exchange” was coined by RevTrax, a company that enables retailers to deliver dynamic promotions across channels.

Incentives such as “Sign up for our weekly newsletter and receive a 10% discount on your next stay at our hotel” go a long way. Spa vouchers, suite discounts, complimentary upgrades, F&B incentives, and vouchers for gas reimbursement are just a few of the value-for-information trade-ins available to hotel marketers at numerous touch points throughout the Digital Customer Journey.

Content Marketing

This is a similarly effective channel for growing your first-party data. Conduct a review and optimization of your property’s Content Marketing initiatives, which have seen a significant increase in importance as a result of recent privacy protection measures. The goal here is to create unique and relevant content that adds real value to travel consumers and can be “gated,” that is, content that is enticing enough for users to provide their information in order to access it or subscribe to receiving it.

Expert Knowledge Marketing initiatives at your property provide the ideal “gated” content opportunities, including podcasts, webinars, virtual cooking classes, valuable spa and wellness advice, chef recipes, cocktail recipes, and how-to guides for weddings and social events.

Conclusion

Do not be discouraged. Email marketing will not be phased out in the near future. Several points to consider:
Develop a strategy for acquiring and managing first-party data.

Invest in CRM and CDP technology to enable direct communication with potential, current, and future customers, as well as geo-targeting them using physical addresses rather than IP addresses, which are increasingly being blocked.

Internally or externally source the ongoing creation of unique and engaging content that is compelling enough to entice customers to sign up for access.
Create enticing offers and promotions to boost conversions from email marketing, CRM, and loyalty marketing, as well as your digital marketing efforts.
Adopt a value-for-information incentive program to exchange voluntarily provided information about customers for future hotel value additions, perks, and benefits

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