5 Reasons Tourism Email Newsletters Fail & How To Fix It

By Rebecca White
Published on September 23, 2020

Sending a regular email newsletter to potential and current customers is a brilliant marketing tactic, when done well, because it can bring you an amazing return on investment.

Since Covid-19 hit, engagement rates of email have also risen compared to the last few years.

But as people become more and more discerning about who they let into their inbox, you need to work really hard to ensure you make EVERY email update you send count.

That your email update is opened, read and your readers take the action you want them to take.

Here are the 5 common reasons why an eNews may fail to engage or interest your customers, and how to fix it.

1. Non – Mobile Friendly Design

Nearly 36% of all emails opened in Australia are opened on mobile devices, whilst 46% of people will delete an email if it’s not mobile friendly.

Therefore it’s super important your eNews is optimised for viewing on mobile devices.

This also means any website pages you send people to from an email, such as your blog, are also mobile responsive.

How to fix

  • Your email service provider, such as Mailchimp will have a number of different mobile responsive email templates you can choose from.
  • Choose a simple, clean layout that has the elements you want to be able drag and drop in, such as text & images, text only, and headlines.
  • Once you have set up one email newsletter, you can then replicate the template over and over again.


Always check a copy of your email as a draft on your smartphone first, to make sure it displays ok and you can pick up any formatting issues you can’t see on desktop.


Mailchimp has a quirk that if you insert a picture into a text box it will no longer be a mobile responsive design (we learnt this the hard way!). If you use Mailchimp, and are adding a picture into your email update, then make sure you add it to a separate picture box.

2. Boring subject line

On average 8 out of 10 people will see your email updates, but only 2 out of 10 will choose to open and read your email based on your subject line!

So don’t underestimate how important your subject line is.

Please don’t feel you have to use a subject line like “eNews update”!

How to fix

  • Get creative and brainstorm a short, sharp and engaging subject line that relates to your email’s content.
  • Use your pre-header text to describe what the email is about.
  • You can also use emoji’s sparingly, just be aware they don’t display well on desktop email clients like Microsoft Outlook.

Smart Insights has lots of research based subject line writing tips to help turn you into a subject copywriting guru.


3. Non Personalised Content

Sending the same email update to everyone on your database is a bad idea!

Consider this….

  • How would you feel receiving an email from a company asking you to buy your product, when you had only just bought from them?
  • Or a sales email telling you about  travel voucher or flight deal when you are still under Covid-19 restrictions and can’t travel?
  • Or receiving an industry update from a destination when you were a consumer?

True story…  these are all emails that recently landed in my inbox . Because they weren’t relevant to me, each one got a very swift unsubscribe!

How do you personalise an eNewsletter?

  • Depending on your tourism experience, segment your email subscribers into customers vs prospects (those who haven’t bought/visited before). You may need to update this information manually in your Email Service Provider. Any tourism product who receives online bookings should be able to manage this via their CRM.
  • Also segment your list by where people live and their interests (only relevant for destinations or large tourism brands). When people sign up for your eNews, ask them for their postcode and/or their state/country. Then when sending an email, it’s a simple trick to only send updates to those that are local vs those who are interstate or international.
  • When you have a specific sale message to share, such as last minute deal, sale offer etc, info about upcoming event, then use these customer segments in your email list to only send it to relevant customers. For example new customers who live locally, or existing customers who live interstate.
  • Be super aware of where you current customers are at with the Covid-19 lock down, and segment and target your messages accordingly.

Who does it well?

Tourism Queensland

They ask you to let them know where you live (super important with Current Covid Restrictions), Who you are travelling with and What interests you and what interests you when you first sign up.

4. Too much text

A quick way to get a delete is to send email essays!

Don’t make your emails to long and wordy.

Aim for quality content over quantity.

Remember, most people are reading emails on small smartphone screens, so please keep it short.

How to fix

  • Use dot points, headers and call-to-action buttons (like “read more” or “book now”) to make it easy to scan at a glance.
  • Only on share call-to-actions in the email, such as a teaser for your blog or to learn more about your sales offer.
  • Use lots of visuals: Like social media, a great image or video in email can help boost engagement in an email.
  • Don’t just be limited to photos; videos and animated gifs are easily embedded in emails, turning your email from a static communication to a more engaging experience.
  • Use Canva to help resize or create your own custom images for your email update.

Who does it well?

South Australia Tourism Commission

Discovery Parks


Another great visually engaging email update >

5. Sending when people are not online.

Did you know an email has on average only a 10% chance of being opened 5 hours after it has been sent?

So if your are sending your emails when you customers are busy elsewhere, that’s another wasted opportunity.

How to fix?

  • Schedule your email updates to be sent out when you know your Ideal customers are likely to be checking their emails.
  • For example if your Ideal Customers are mums with kids, then try out an evening sending once the kids are in bed – not at the crazy hour after school and during dinner.
  • Or if your Ideal Customers are working professionals, send earlier in the morning to read on the way to work.  Also don’t be afraid to try Saturday or Sunday if that’s relevant for your Ideal Customer.
  • Test out different times and days of the weeks. See which get the best open and click through rates, and focus on sending emails updates at that time.

Over to you

  • What tips you can apply to your email marketing today to help improve your results?
  • Have you found any small teaks in your design or content or segmentation that has given big results?

We’d love hear examples of your success with email marketing, so please share below.

This blog was first published in 2016 and updated in September 2020.


Rebecca White

Rebecca is a visitor economy specialist and co-director of Tourism eSchool. Rebecca has lived and breathed tourism for over two decades, and is passionate about helping regional tourism organisations adapt and evolve their activities to ensure they are adding value to their local communities whilst also remaining relevant to their visitors ever-evolving values and travel planning patterns.