I get hundreds of emails a day and I’m sure you do, too. Some are promotional, while others are important and are worthy of a response. When it comes to the promotional emails that hit my inbox, I primarily delete 50-75% of them without even opening them up. If I’m lucky, gmail will do all of the work for me and they’ll end up in the promotion tab which basically just sends my promotional email to my spam filter. When it comes to the promotional emails that are left, I only read a few on a consistent basis because I enjoy reading them or I find their information valuable. Otherwise, I’m outta there.
I’m guessing your assessment of your inbox is about the same. What does this mean to you as a golf course operator?
Guess where your golf course’s email is ending up in your customer’s inbox? That’s right. It’s heading right for the promotion tab where it basically turns to unread spam. Cue the wah wah waaaaaah.
If it’s lucky enough to sit in the promotions tab with a slim chance of being read, then your subject line has to put up a big fight and do its best to appeal to the reader until it’s (hopefully) opened.
If your email doesn’t have what it takes, then it’s going directly to the trash pile.
No pressure, right?
Let’s take a look at my current promotions tab of my inbox. Which one of these subject lines is appealing enough for me to open?
If your answer is none of them, then you’re right!
Let’s take a look at how you might combat this in your email marketing.
There is an art form to writing emails and most golf courses haven’t take that art class. At. All.
Have you ever truly looked at your emails? Have you read them? Not for grammar, but for content and whether or not they’re enjoyable to read?
I have been amassing golf course emails for years. I used to do it from all over the country trying to get some ideas on promotions and other types of things that I could possibly use for my own golf course. As time went on, I realized that I really needed to subscribe to other industries for motivation and ideas because golf course emails are HORRIBLE. They lack any type of copywriting skills whatsoever and are primarily only used for promotions.
Pretty much I can sum up all golf course emails into this formula: a bunch of pictures next to the price and/or promotion.
In other words, BOOOORRRRRRINNNNNNNG.
Not Your Fault
I get it. It’s not really your fault. You’re probably using an email service and they have provided these great templates with some mad lib type fill in the blank motivation to get your creative juices flowing.
I hate to break it to you, but most email marketing services and/or point of sale systems aren’t that great at actually writing emails. They’re the computer engineers who wrote the code to the software. As in, they’re the computer nerds who are likely very introverted and don’t know how to speak to people. Yes. I know, I’m totally generalizing, but I’m related to one of this people and trust me – there’s no way he can write a good email!
The email software is not created by the person with the copywriting degree who excels at communicating with others. That’s why you need to roll up your sleeves and do some work!
You’re going to have to step out side of your comfort zone to write better and more interesting emails. No worries. I’ve created a series of formulas you can use!
Images are So Last Year
If you haven’t been paying attention, emails are moving away from the html format. When you think about your own inbox, which emails are the ones that have pretty pictures in them? Does your friend send you an email with blocks of images? Does the person who is inquiring about holding an event at your course take the time to format images? The answer is a big fat NO, yet those (un-fancy) ones are the emails that you will read FIRST. Why wouldn’t you want to format the emails from your golf course with a similar format, so they look like they’re from a friend?
That’s right. Your html email looks promotional from the second it’s opened. Having many images with the design intention to make the email look like your website is basically like taping your glasses with duct tape and spraying yourself with anti-human repellent because your email doesn’t look like the ones your golfer typically reads. They look like they’re from a used car salesman.
Putting images in your emails is big red flag that the spam filter needs to wipe you out of the running for ever being read by a human who might actually play golf at your course.
Tell a Story with Your Words
About two years ago, I changed the way that I write emails. They no longer include images. Now, I include brief stories and a funny tale that adds to what is the overall goal of the email. If I’m trying to sell junior lessons, then I talk about playing golf with my children. Trying to attract golfers to Patriot Golf Day? Then, I might share the story of listening to the soldier explain the purpose of the Folds of Honor at a conference that I attended. In other words, I engage my golfer by relating to him.
What am I really trying to sell when I write an email? I’m really trying to sell the experience that my golfer will enjoy when they play, so why wouldn’t I want to share an experience to help sell it?
That means that you want to paint the picture. Did you have a particularly great round? Have you seen a great new golf product? Did something funny happen at work? Share it! Did you hear a strange story while you were waiting in line at Starbucks that applies to why someone needs to take lessons? There are stories everywhere if you know what the goal of your email is trying to achieve.
Let your golfers know that a person is behind that email you’re sending out.
When you write your email like you’re writing to a friend, you’ll experience far more engagement which will translate to more sales and more responses from your golfers.
Give Them the Link!
I’m sure you’re sitting there scratching your head thinking, “But Allison, how do I tell them about my promotion or event without sounding like the most boring person in the world? I’m just supposed to talk about my golf game? Have you lost your mind??”
Here’s the fancy trick about email marketing in today’s era. All of the dirty details about what you’re “selling” should actually be on your website. Your email is filled with engagement, so your golfer wants to see more.
Your website should be an extension of your business. It’s where people should want to go to find all of the information they want about your business.
Not to mention, when they click the link to find out more about what you’re selling…you receive valuable information about your golfer!!
That’s right! When you set up your email system correctly, you can track which links your customers click which will then tag them in your email system. This tagging allows you to track their interests for future marketing emails.
If your email system doesn’t have this ability, then you can also track them using the FB pixel. In Facebook, you can set up an audience which is created when someone visits a specific url on your website. This builds an audience of interested buyers who visit that specific web page making it easier for you to create an ad in the future.
You use your email to tell the story and provide a hook that gets them to click to find out more information! This type of information is invaluable!
About 15 years ago, we had index cards at our course that we used to try and track the sales and mannerisms of all of our best golfers. We did it for about two years before we realized that it was a nice idea, but it just simply was never going to happen because it was too difficult to track, particularly when we were very busy. Then, we moved to a point of sale system which could track this for us. I always knew the importance to knowing what my golfer was buying and tracking what they liked and disliked, but inevitably, my staff wouldn’t have their name in the shopping cart on our POS or they would have another member in the foursome rung up, so the sale would go to them and the information wasn’t very reliable.
I never blamed my staff. When there is a long line to check in golfers or they are making the turn and need to eat, I want to be efficient and get them out the door as quickly as possible. I like the tracking information, but I felt like I was sacrificing efficiency for information catching.
That’s when I realized that I needed to develop a system where my golfers were the ones who were doing the tracking based on their interests without my staff lifting a finger. Bam! Links in emails is the perfect answer. It’s easy for your staff and your golfer, plus it’s reliable!
No. Seriously!!! GIVE THEM THE LINK
Do you know how many emails that I read from golf courses that the only actual link (if there’s any link at all) they provide is one that leads them to their confusing website that has a hundred pages in the menu and is difficult to navigate? Basically every golf course email that I’ve ever read.
Whyyyyyyyyyy? I don’t understand this strange phenomenon. If the golfer is reading an email online, why does the copy read: Give us a Call to Book a Tee Time?
Why would we want them to get on the phone when they are already online! Give them A LINK! Make them do the work.
BUT… you need to make it easy for them to accomplish this. The links in your email should point directly to the exact page you’re describing in the email. If you’re talking about booking a tee time online, then send them directly to your booking engine. If you’re talking about signing up for your golf outing, then the link should take them directly to the sign up page for golf outing inquires. If you’re talking about booking a party, then the link should take them directly to the page where they can fill out a form to book the event.
There you have it.
Try formatting your emails like you’re writing to a friend and see what happens! I know that I was shocked the first time that I gave it try. I even signed off with my name and not from the generalized staff and people actually responded to me because they knew I was a human. It was fun and insightful!
I can’t wait to hear how your emails turn out.