One of the biggest complaints is the requirement for most online booking and travel services to require you to include an email address, which is used to obviously email you the itinerary but its also being used for ongoing marketing. The problem is that with any failure in the marketing cycle it leads you to sometimes closely examine other aspects to see how many other places does a company fall down by not having an effective digital strategy or a sometimes any idea at all....
There is a number of failures noticed the first is the lack of campaign or tracking code for the link for information about the annual Worthing Birdman event. The email talks about sending your own photos/videos from the Worthing Birdman event and the best one will win a £100 of Rail Travel but doesn't include any address or details of where to send the photos/videos. The image below just shows a single link to Worthing Birdman festival but the rest you will have to visit their site directly and search for the information.
The other aspect of promoting Twitter and Facebook is great, but usually I would suggest promoting your actual fan page and account not just the service in general. Most people have heard of Twitter & Facebook so they don't need that much extra promotion and links do make it easier for people to find your Fanpage or Twitter account. The email fails to deliver even the basic strategies of marketing, if you talk about something like your social media properties, link to it don't just talk about it!
Email Marketing Failure (SPAM)
The common problem is when running email marketing is when companies use email lists and fail to disclose who they are actually sending the email to, the first problem is that its often flagged as spam by most email filters.
The continuing issue that that Rail Easy does not actually disclose any of the information most countries require to ensure the privacy of its citizens is not being infringed upon. There is no contact details of who is sending the email, no details on what email was targeted or user has been subscribed to this email newsletter this would lead to classification as SPAM under a number of laws in countries around the world. The email is not compliant with any US citizens/residents on their email marketing list under the CAN-SPAM Act because it does not:
Again within the UK it appears that under the UK's eCommerce Regulations, Rail Easy has failed to include the regulatory information in their email footers and are in breach of the Companies ACT and they are a UK based firm with a target audience of UK residents.
- Does not contain all the header information and email routing information to accurately identify who the email was sent to
- The message does not include a valid physical address of your business
- The opt out of receiving future email from you is not easy and does not include a return email address
- Both Kiwiana and Easy Rail can be held legally responsible for not monitoring what others are doing on their behalf
- The name, geographic address and email address of the service provider. The name of the organisation with which the customer is contracting must be given.
- It is not sufficient to include a 'contact us' form without also providing an email address and geographic address somewhere easily accessible on the site
- If a company, the company's registration number should be given and, under the Companies Act, the place of registration should be stated
- If the business is a member of a trade or professional association, membership details, including any registration number, should be provided.
- If the business has a VAT number, it should be stated – even if the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions.
- Prices on the website must be clear and unambiguous. Also, state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.
Hard to unsubscribe from list
The second issue is not masking the domain the email platform is built on displaying useless and confusing numbers to those wishing to unsubscribe, the other problem is that you can see that I'm part of group 53 but what email address did I subscribe with originally? This can be a problem when you are multiple email addresses or have email forwarding from another account to your primary account.
The issue of what email was actually receiving the email becomes an issue when I have to manually enter the email address that was used, but I don't have that information contained in the email, so I assume that I can just guess until I get it right?
The problem with the Kiwiana email marketing platform is that you can actually place any email address in the system, even if it has never been part of the list and it will advise that it has been now removed from the mailing list. The false sense of security that this status message provides is enough to send chills down my spine, its a placebo message that doesn't appear to do anything and no confirmation message is sent to confirm you have been successfully unsubscribed. It brings back memories of an earlier article I wrote on how "Diesel Fails Email Marketing" they had a similar problem where the unsubscribe function did nothing.
The problem with cutting corners with packages is that you expose the platform that is used to power their email marketing and this doesn't match with the client's brand or image, if you attempt to visit the site hosting the unsubscribe tool you are greeted with a very useless notification message from Kiwiana, that could be more proactive such as if you are having problems unsubscribe to our clients emails please complete the form and we will seek to resolve the issue. Since Kiwiana is technically legally liable for Rail Easy's spammy email marketing process they should do something more proactive about it!
Online Bookings via Email
There is several travel offers listed with a book now and save button, that doesn't actually allow for booking any of the offers listed. If the reader decides that they want to book one of the trips they should be able to click the location and be taken deeper into the purchase funnel "timetable" section where they can select which trip is suitable. Making the process more time-consuming and manual for the user will lead to a large decrease in conversion rates and less sales for your email marketing campaigns.
The booking button takes you to the generic homepage, which requires the visitors to remember what was the destinations and dates that had the special offers listed above. You are failing to make it easy for your subscribers to book the promotional offers you are sending to them. Sending email subscribers who have purchased previously to your home page does not offer a great user experience and in the next email they are likely to ignore the offers so you have potentially lost any advantage by being lazy. If you CMS doesn't allow for static links or deals change or update your CMS to allow for better marketing campaigns and high conversion rates.
If you do a test on one of their offers listed you will actually save 64% which is actually more than the email's promise of 44% savings for booking online. The problem with this is that differences in pricing between what is advertised may lead consumers to look and search for more deals instead of buying with the advertised 44% discount offer in the email. You maybe potentially delaying the purchase by not having a consistent pricing structure for your online bookings.
The RailEasy Facebook fanpage could almost be said to be dead in the water, it contains 3 updates from 17th April 2009 and only 19 people claim to like this. I understand that if Raileasy is not promoting their Fanpage or making the effort to add any content you can understand why it's not gathering any momentum. If you are going to be that lazy as to not update your Fanpage more than once every 1-2 years maybe its best not to try social media...
The Rail Easy twitter account is fairly active but with only 67 followers it's not likely to make an impact on bookings anytime soon. Another point of failure is that they are also following more people than are following them back which would show a slight disconnect with their audience. They should also look at taking the time to create a custom background this is extra advertising/promotional space that is not being used, and the BIO is more of a novel than something you can easily scan over, it's almost like old school keyword stuffing and doesn't look professional.
Overall it seems that Rail Easy is 3-4 different chefs all trying to make a different recipe and all with no idea as to what is going on, as they say too many cooks spoil a good broth.... well in this case too much inconsistency leads to failure and a poor customer experience. Rail Easy has stumbled and failed to do online marketing but it's not too late to fix it and just a few basic changes will have a massive impact on their bottom line!