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Making the Most of Your First-Party Data

Lesley Rowbal Destination Strategy Director

We all know how important it is to gather first-party data. That is the information a business collects directly from its audience, customers, or social media followers. With privacy regulations continuing to tighten across many platforms, first-party data is becoming even more vital — meaning DMOs should have a set tactic in place to build up their first-party data collection. That tactic could be promoting a new visitor guide, seasonal gated content, or sweepstakes signups. But it’s not enough just to gather the data, you need a plan for what to do with those leads, which is why email marketing is more important than ever.

Email marketing falls within your owned channels, so you have more freedom and oversight into what, when, and how communication and information are being delivered. As DMOs are shuffling their many “to-do’s,” oftentimes a specific focus on email and marketing automation falls to the wayside. So when it comes to email and navigating your new-found data, here are some things to keep in mind:

Platform capabilities

There are a lot of well-known players in the email and marketing automation space. DMOs must understand what capabilities they want from an email marketing platform and what they can manage. Questions you’ll want to ask yourself before determining which platform is right for you or to better understand your current tools include: 

Understanding your audience

Speaking of segmenting…understanding who you’re talking to in your emails is key. Just as you’re tailoring your messaging for prospecting versus remarketing or behavior audience versus geotargeting, you want to do the same thing for your email. 

Consider how you want to segment your audience:

Audit your form

Your email marketing plan starts with your data-collection form. When collecting first-party data, it’s not enough to simply have a signup form to gather information. You need to think critically about the information you’re asking for on the form, as well as how you will use that data. You must have a specific use for every piece of information that you are requesting on the form. For example, if you’re asking users if they’re interested in sustainable travel, but you don’t have any information or content to share with them, don’t ask. Furthermore, keeping your forms simple, requiring only the necessary information, will reduce the barrier to form submission. Where can you implement condition logic for personalization or decrease the form length?

Also, think about where your form is placed on the site. For DMOs without any kind of booking integration on their site, email signup is a big conversion. Here are some points to consider when plugging your form across the site:

List hygiene

When it comes to email list hygiene, it really is as simple as quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter if you have a list of 100,000 subscribers if they’re not opening or connecting with your content. We recommend you have a process to validate those leads that come in. Also, within your planning, try to have a workflow set up to reconnect with those subscribers who are becoming less and less engaged with your emails. Through that process, you can start to weed out the unengaged and provide tailored messaging to those who are still interested.

You can’t do it all

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you really can’t do it all. It’s more important to identify what you want to do that you feel you can commit to and do it well. Maybe you can only commit to a monthly email. Okay, take time to figure out what you’re going to do and provide yourself the time and resources to execute it (If you need help, I know some people!). Maybe you want something set up that focuses on an onboarding flow to connect with those leads while they’re hot. You’ll spend a larger amount of time upfront to get your emails, segmentation, and workflows in place, but you won’t spend as much time managing it monthly. As we all know, things are always changing, so we encourage you to re-evaluate your email marketing tactics every few months, but with a solid plan already in place, you’ll likely be making only minor tweaks.  

Reach out for help with your email marketing!