Case Study: How Optimising Retargeting Emails Helps The Leaky Booking Funnel

Case Study: How Optimising Retargeting Emails Helps The Leaky Booking Funnel

09 June 2021Julia Kolberg

The journey of converting website visitors into hotel guests can be a challenging one. It is made up of many different opportunities for your hard-earned (and sometimes expensive) website visitors to fall out and leave. Surprisingly, the final steps of a hotel’s booking funnel are very leaky. Even visitors who reach the check-out step and manage to fill in their details are still abandoning their booking at alarmingly high rates.

To understand what happens during these steps, our team looked at a sample of hotels and analysed the booking funnel actions. In this sample, two hotels had a 100% abandonment rate after filling in their email address—meaning that no bookings were made at all. While another hotel had an abandonment rate as low as 29%. Despite this variation in abandonment rates, it is clear that across all hotels visitors are having second thoughts in this completion process. This is a big problem for hoteliers as these are the visitors with the highest booking intention—they have not only selected a room but also started to complete their booking reservation.

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How can Saved Search help the booking funnel drop off?

Saved Search functionality, frequently found on eCommerce sites, has been developed to address this haemorrhaging of visitors. Guests are able to send their booking details to their email address—making it easier for them to return and complete their booking at a later time. Additionally, hotels can add special offers to these retargeted emails to entice guests to return.

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The technology works by automatically recognising the email entered by the guest on the check-out step. After one hour, if they haven’t made a booking, the retargeted email is sent out. For most booking engines, a dynamic link can be added to the email which brings the visitor back in the booking process with their dates, currency, adults, and children already applied to make it easier than ever to complete the booking.

However to receive these emails the guest must first consent to receive an email with their booking details. The more potential guests that consent, the more that can be retargeted and brought back into the booking process later. Just like the abandonment rate, we see wild variations in the opt-in rates.

One hotel in our sample had an opt-in rate of 62.07% signalling that their guests have a big appetite for saving their booking details. On the lower end, one hotel had an opt-in rate of just 6.15%. What is driving these differences?

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Which Saved Search messages perform the best?

Our analysis showed that the opt-in message which performed the best followed a number of best practices:

  • The opt-in message was positioned in a place where it was not covering any other content on the booking engine.
  • The title was clear and easy to read.
  • The message was relatively short, plus the addition of the legal text in italics shows its lesser importance.
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In contrast, the lowest-performing opt-in message had identical text but the message overlapped important information on the website. This lead to a high closure rate of 68%. The positioning of the message is crucial to its success.

Another hotel website in the sample had a very high percentage of visitors who were neither consenting to the email nor closing the message. In this case, the consent message was positioned in a good spot and was not covering anything. Yet at the same time, the title and text of the consent message were unclear and hard to read at a glance. Rather than engaging with the information, visitors were simply ignoring it. This highlights the importance of both a clear title and clear text. Visitors should be able to understand the consent message without much thought.

How do the Saved Search emails perform?

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On average the retargeted emails had an open rate of 79.2% and a staggering click rate of 34.7% (weighted average).

More than 1 in 3 people who opted-in to receive an email, returned to the booking process via the retargeted email.

There was a marked difference in the performance of the different emails, with the best performing in the sample achieving 50%, and the worst 8%. The best performing emails were the ones that communicated the hotels’ book direct benefits or added an additional promo code to encourage the visitor to return.

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Key learnings for using Saved Search functionality

The Saved Search functionality can help to address the high percentage of website visitors who are falling out of the booking funnel. When using Saved Search on your hotel website, here are the key things to keep in mind:

  • Check the message positioning. Make sure the Saved Search message isn’t covering any important information, such as the dates or the room rates.
  • Have a clear title and text. Make use of formatting for your Saved Search message. Have a clear and concise title that stands out. People skimming the page will be able to understand this easily. Keeping the body of the message short is important too.
  • Utilise the retargeting email. Highlight your hotel’s direct booking benefits or any additional incentives in the retargeting email. This helps to increase the likelihood that your visitors will return to your website and book.

This blog post was originally written and posted by Hotelchamp.