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Why Hotels Should Follow New Sending Requirements for Marketing eMails and What Happens If They Don’t
By Haydee Fernandez
Monday, 15th April 2024
 

If you’re a regular reader of informational articles on hospitality marketing, chances are you caught our previous piece on Gmail and Yahoo’s new sender requirements.

If not, feel free to hit that link; it’s a convenient primer on the latest updates for crafting emailed communication, with handy, “news-you-can-use” tips for increasing open rates and engagement.

However, while the predominant email platforms have done a lot to help senders understand WHAT they need to do in order to boost metrics, some hoteliers are still a bit in the dark as to the WHY. Why are these new provisions in place? What was the reasoning behind the changes? And what happens if I simply ignore the new requirements, and continue with business as usual?

Here, we’ll seek to shed some light on these questions with an eye toward increasing engagement, and better reaching customers.

Why were these new requirements adopted?

Any given email list — at least ideally — represents a customer base. Whether the folks whose emails you’ve captured offered them during a sale, due to your having solicited mailing list signups, or during an account creation process, it can naturally be assumed that these addresses belong to at least potential, if not already-extant buyers. They’ve consented to be contacted in reference to the product you’re offering, so they are typically more receptive to sales emails than would be a cold email recipient.

So, you should be able to send them marketing emails with no problem, right?

Well…it’s not always that easy.

Scammers, spammers and other bad actors are also in competition for the attention (and the dollars) of your mailing list recipients. And although savvy users can usually spot dud communications, less-than-honorable entities with their digital hands out are getting better at seeming legitimate all the time.

That’s where spam filters come in. As the two leading providers of individual email online, Google and Yahoo have adopted robust spam filters designed to intercept illegitimate emails before these communications even see the inside of account recipients’ inboxes. And while these safeguards aren’t perfect, they’re still incredibly effective at filtering most emails that account holders would likely find not valuable.

Why do I need to follow these guidelines?

In short: it’s because the upshot of these spam-sinking safeguards’ efficacy is that unless your marketing emails follow a specific set of requirements, the filters may intercept emails that account holders DO want to see — i.e., yours.

So, by seeing to it that your marketing communications adhere to the latest standards, your hotel GREATLY increases the chances that your customers will receive what you’ve sent, and go on to send some revenue your way as a result.

That makes sense. so what do I need to do?

First (at the risk of redundancy), familiarize yourself with the new email sender requirements. It’s tough to overstate the importance of putting these practices into place when it comes to giving your marketing emails every chance of reaching their recipients.

Next, diversify. Email is only one piece of the overall marketing puzzle. It’s an important one, sure. But not a basket into which you’ll want to put all your eggs. There are additional ways to drive demand that are just as important, if not more so. You’ll also want to consider aspects like paid search, paid social, banners, and other individual slices of the overall marketing pie. It’s important to reach out to customers via several methods in order to elevate your chances of awareness.

(Hoteliers can also employ strategies like using their CRM data for modeling personas, and creating parallel audiences. For instance, building from a typical customer profile to reach out to groups of potential guests that have similar characteristics to past guests. These travelers are most likely to book based on demographics, psychological characteristics, and similarities to your best customers.)

Additionally, relying on the advice of expert partners is a great best practice. Cendyn often fields questions from our hotel clients about things like quantity vs. quality; e.g., “Why should I be sending FEWER emails? Doesn’t sending MORE increase the chances of a larger number getting through?” And the answer is: not necessarily.

The “send more” strategy often contains recipients that are no longer interested in your content, so there is a higher risk of sending to un-engaged emails and guests that then mark your email as spam. Low engagement and spam complaints play into the mailbox provider algorithms. Thanks to many email platforms employing an algorithm-driven, “moving target” sort of approach, increased frequency of sending can sometimes be flagged as a negative.

Understanding a bit more about the under-the-surface mechanics that determine the success of processes on that front can also be a benefit.

What sort of mechanics are those?

A too-frequent emailing schedule is just one aspect (of many) that comprises what’s referred to as an “Email Sender Reputation,” which is a rating assigned to the general quality of a given domain’s communication. In simplified terms, this is a background process applied by these email platforms; one that takes several factors into consideration to apply an umbrella “quality” (or trustworthiness) rating to communications originating from any given sender. It’s a sticky but important factor to take into consideration. But simply put, a poor ESP can mean that your emails might fail some necessary background checks for viability.

It can also be difficult to tell if your ESP is in any way compromised. One of the more difficult parts of this challenging process is that you may not know that your emails’ digital reputation has been determined to be less-than-stellar by these automated routines. There are no notifications, or often any indication (other than lackluster metrics and underwhelming revenue) that your emails are failing undercover quality checks — which is another reason why it’s so crucial to adopt these deliverability guidelines as early as possible.

This all sounds really complicated. so now what?

In all frankness, these processes can be fairly convoluted. However, that’s largely out of necessity. If these viability checks were easy to nail down, they would also be easily circumvented by the very spammers they’re trying to stop.

The same is true of similar background processes like Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The exact way these mechanics work is somewhat nebulous, so those with less-than-noble aims can’t do end-runs around the protections they provide.

Key takeaways:

This closer look at the “why” behind the “what” of the latest in sender guidelines is by no means a comprehensive breakdown. The subject is a complex one; a hybrid of art and science with constantly shifting best practices. So while navigating these guardrails is in the best interest of both hotel and guest, doing so can nevertheless be an intimidating process to undertake…especially when you’re also trying to operate your hotel day-to-day.

That’s why it’s important to work with a partner who makes use of dedicated strategies that stay a step ahead of the moving goalposts. Cendyn has a longstanding and proven track record of navigating the many moving parts of hospitality marketing, up to and including the challenge of understanding these sender guidelines.

So, if your team needs an assist when it comes to getting out in front of the latest email techniques? Reach out to us. We can help you make the most of your hotel’s multi-tiered approach to customer contact, and increase your engagement — which is a direct path to enhanced revenue.

Haydee Fernandez
Associate Director, Customer Benchmarking & Recommendations

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