TBEX Speaker Guest Post: Creative Email Marketing for Travel Bloggers


Travel bloggers are a funny group. Dangle a new social media outlet in front of them and they’ve got a username and password faster than they can upload a snapshot of tonight’s dinner. Ask them how they use their email list, and they usually answer, “Ummmm, I’ve been meaning to work on that.”

coreyorangeEmail isn’t dressed in a cute logo or backed by a cast of too-cool-for-school entrepreneurs. It’s functional, not flashy. It’s proven more than a trend, and for some reason ends up on the to-do list rather than the must-do list.

Yet when Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest want to send YOU a message, they use email. When YouTube, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn want you to click on content, how do they reach you? They send an email… an email YOU ASKED THEM TO SEND.

So why aren’t you following their example?

You send important emails every day, so you’ve already been honing the skills required to become a successful email campaign creator. Yet, you’re reluctant to put your list to work.

Most bloggers plead lack of knowledge, lack of a list, or lack of time when dishing out their excuses. The truth is, you’re email list is an extension of everything you do online. It’s your way of treating your most dedicated fans as VIPs. By inviting you into their inbox, they’re practically counting you as part of the family. As family, they trust your recommendations (sometimes more than their blood relatives), they click your links, and they prove to be your most loyal, vocal fans.

They say the “money is in your list.”

The wealth I’ve accumulated from simple, sincere emails have ranged from increased page views; bumps in sales; and the growth of my online community.

I thought I’d share a few memorable moments courtesy of my email subscribers.

Perfect Timing: Most people check email and Facebook more often than they scan their RSS reader or browse the web. Last St Patrick’s Day Facebook’s algorithm didn’t seem to favor my post about Lonely Planet’s free digital download of their Dublin guide. I countered with an email to my list, and within an hour my inbox was flooded with thank you messages.

Meaningful Engagement: For my latest podcast episode, I asked my audience for alternative destinations to Ireland’s most popular tourist spots. A Twitter mention and post on Facebook came back with a few replies. A day later, an email to a segment of my list returned four times as many suggestions. Best of all, they were written in paragraph form instead of Facebook and Twitter fragments.

  • The End of the World (Almost): During a 48-hour nightmare last year when an un-updated WordPress plugin wreaked havoc on my website, a simple alert to my email subscribers let them know the problem was being addressed, and two IT professionals stepped forward and helped fix the problem fast.
  • Connection and Interaction: For the last five years, a handful of my e-newsletter subscribers participated in a Secret Santa Gift Exchange. The entire activity was organized in the virtual world through an email list, but it resulted in real gifts with handwritten notes being sent via snail mail to people around the globe. The good will and online conversations that resulted were probably the best gift I could have received at that time of year.
  • Audience Development: One of my favorite projects came from a museum that was undergoing a 3-month renovation. Without people walking in the front door, I worked with them to develop new email membership. Within two weeks we were seeing almost 100 new sign ups a day. For 180 days, these e-members were given a weekly stream of useful, interesting information. When the museum opened again, over half the email subscribers downloaded tickets to previews, and it’s estimated that at least 17% bought a paid membership.
  • Sales: I don’t hard-sell anything to my email list, but I do let subscribers know about my projects and products. By December last year, I sold an extra $15,000 worth of my own products thanks to my lists in 2012.

Activating Your Email Marketing

At TBEX Dublin, I’m teaming up Kerwin McKenzie for a session covering the how-tos and what-to-dos of email marketing. We’ll be loading attendees up with achievable action steps to get them building and sending their lists… and, of course we’ll be using e-mail to check up on their progress afterwards.

Author Bio:  Corey Taratuta is best known as the host of the Irish Fireside Podcast, Corey’s “previous life” included days (and nights) as the senior member of a museum creative team, a newspaper features editor, and an unenthusiastic cowhand on his family’s dairy farm. After launching the podcast in 2006, he set out on a 40-day, cross-country trek meeting fans and telling the story through video and words. He now works as a freelance writer and designer specializing in e-mail marketing and online content. He unveiled the Ireland Travel Kit app in 2013, and his first book on Irish travel goes to press next year.

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4 Responses
  1. I recognize the importance of a list, but what bothers me is how everyone keeps saying that you need one, but nobody says what you should put in it.
    Most newsletters I’m subscribed to just give an overview of the posts published on the site. Totally unneeded as I’m also subscribed to thoses site’s feed.
    I would love to send out a decent newsletter, but I don’t feel like doing so just for the sake of it.
    I don’t have any products (yet) and I’m just blogging at the moment.
    I could of course summarize how my month has been, some highs and lows (and I know that’s what a lot of travel bloggers do), but somehow I don’t see any added value in this.

    I guess Is hould spend some more time thinking about this.

    1. Hey Sofie, I can see where you’re coming from with there not being an added value in the “monthly update”. I think this is where we as bloggers are challenged to engage our audience. How are you going to get their attention? Maybe you have a question for them. Maybe you are thinking of a place to go next, and you want some pointers (people love to offer information). Maybe you just took a load of photos on a special trip and you share just a couple on your blog post and the rest are exclusive for your subscribers.

      These are just a few ideas that come to mind off the top of my head… Good luck 😉


  2. I was sympathizing with Sofie’s concerns in how to engage email subscribers with valuable newsletters that are out of the “mainstream norm”. So thanks Christa for the great ideas! I love the suggestion of asking questions or requesting subscriber’s recommendations …

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