How Secret Escapes can improve their email adverts

So this is my first post and it got pretty hefty so this is part one. If you want to learn a lil something about email advertising, then stick around.

Now if you are one of the 16 million Secret Escapes members in the UK, you’ll already be familiar with the format of their emails. Most of them feature a list of photos of their current holiday and hotel deals. They all look beautiful but after you’ve been getting them for a while you probably stop paying attention to them.

Part of a Secret Escapes email newsletter

So when I added the Secret Escapes newsletters to my un-swipe file, my first idea to improve them was to try out a completely different style of email. Instead of one continuous list with all their deals, readers may be more interested in learning about one destination.

And then I got this email…


Well fuck, I thought. There goes my blog post idea.

But there are still a few problems with this email, so I’m going to give this big, successful company some unsolicited advice anyway.

What are Secret Escapes actually trying to do here? 

The aim of the email is to get members to watch a video, to hopefully inspire them to buy one of their holidays.

Although they’re offering a valuable video guide to members, it hasn’t had so many views.


According to YouTube at the time of checking, it only had 850 views, which seems pretty low for such a huge mailing list.

Where are they going wrong?

There’s a chain of actions that leads to a potential customer watching the video (and then buying a holiday).

The start of the chain is the email subject, and it’s the most important part because this is what makes people decide to open the email at all. If the subject doesn’t get read, everything inside pretty much goes to waste.

Once we’ve opened the email, every step needs to keep the reader hooked until they eventually click on the link to the video.

So, we can look at the problems with the email in that order of importance:

  1. The email subject

    sa4People are less likely to open an email that is obviously an advert, just as we are less likely to open ‘junk’ letters which aren’t directly addressed to us. The Secret Escapes subjects always look like just another advert that can be skipped.

  2. The headline and image

    sa5To sell travel, advertisers need to use beautiful photographs. Here, we can’t actually see the picture very clearly because it’s covered by a headline. The headline is hard to read because it’s on top of the picture. It’s also pretty vague, and doesn’t even tell you that you’ll be watching a video about South Africa.

  3.  The copy

    A small percentage will actually read the copy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. If members actually invest enough attention to read the copy, it can be the best way to convince them to make the next step. The copy in this email isn’t so effective though:


    The positioning of the product is very important, but here it just seems like the main selling point of South Africa is that you can have a variety of holidays.

    It starts off by saying it’s a ‘bucket list destination’. That’s actually off-putting because it makes travelling to the country seem impersonal. By focusing on the reasons why it might be on someone’s bucket list, rather than that fact alone, the copy could connect on an emotional level and actually convince readers to purchase through Secret Escapes.

    This may seem trivial because it’s not necessarily a badly written text, but at the same time it doesn’t do what it’s meant to do. The copy genuinely is a game changer – you can’t just wing it because you’re a ‘good writer’.

    Really though, do you fly over 6,000 miles away from home for ‘a myriad of holidays to be had’?

    Just think about how you talk about an amazing trip you’ve taken. Chances are, the language you’d use is completely different to this copy, and that’s exactly why people aren’t watching the video. 

    What can Secret Escapes do to improve the email and get people to use their service more?

    As I’ve said, the video guide format is great for promoting South Africa as a destination because it manages to stir emotions and shows customers exactly what they can do there.

    What works really well about the secret escapes TV ads, which have allowed them to build up such a huge email list, is the secretive and exclusive positioning of their brand.

    However, once you’re actually on the mailing list, you get tonnes of mass emails, which don’t really carry the same message.

    In part two, we’ll look at how the email could be re-written to get more video views.




3 thoughts on “How Secret Escapes can improve their email adverts

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