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Danielle Woolley Customer Success Manager Adestra

How can A/B testing be used to improve email marketing in the travel sector?

The beginning of the year is a key period for travel marketers to attract revenue. With email marketing being one of the top channels for return on investment, it's not surprising to see that the Travel & Leisure sector appeared to rate their email performance as the highest amongst all sectors (Adestra 2015 Email Industry Census - Key Sector Report).

But are you getting the best results with your current strategy? By using the next five testing tips you could be taking your results to the next level.

1. Baby steps: start with the subject line

Subject lines are so easy to test, there's almost no excuse not to do it! Choose a significant base of subscribers, we recommend at least 1000 per variant and have fun playing with words. To help you get started, the Adestra 2015 Subject Line Report shows that "essential", "exciting" and "order" had a 20%, 22% and 18% increase respectively over the average open rate. 

Adding first name personalisation in the subject line and at the start of your main content of your email is easy. Take your subject line testing further and see if emojis will help increase your open rate. You never know until you've tested it!

2. Relaxation or adventure? Play with images

You’ve grabbed their attention and your readers have opened to see what irresistible places you have to offer. Now it’s time to entice them with the main content and your focus should be on conversion.

To drive click-through use attractive, bright and eye-catching imagery that makes the customer want to escape to that dream destination. Test to see whether your audience is attracted more to holidays where relaxation is key and everything is taken care of for them, or to ones where they can explore and get involved in different activities. Then you can segment based on who reacts to what and tailor your messages going forward. 

3. Quick win: backgrounds matter

Try out a few colour and pattern options for your backgrounds. Does a seaside theme in February encourage more people to book their summer cruise? Vary your backgrounds depending on the theme and track the impact on conversions.

4. Give it some time and attention

Apart from testing the best day of the week and time of the day for engagement peaks, the travel industry has an advantage over other industries. Time of the year testing could have a great impact in getting the attention of your subscribers and converting them to purchase.

Even though there are some definite times of the year when people travel, don’t ignore other opportunities. Bear in mind that people book holidays at different times of the year. Try an automated anniversary of booking campaign. People are creatures of habit, so you may just get them at that time when they’re dreaming of distant shores again.

5. Pro tip: test the results automated programs generate against your regular strategy

Marketing automation has proven benefits, but that doesn't mean you should automate all your email marketing sends. Evaluate where automation could help you save time, or improve the timing and relevancy of your campaigns.

For example, use automation to make your customers loyal by going the extra mile around the time of their holiday. Set up a simple pre-holiday program to create excitement about the event (believe it or not, some people are apprehensive about transport, and places they’ve never been to before). Share the top 10 attractions, reviews of restaurants and museums, remind them to print tickets and take note of any important information such as visa requirements.