Picture of Vanesa Gómez

Finally, a new interview in our blog! Today we have Vanesa Gómez, one of the WordPress girls that Ana Cirujano told us we should interview. Vanesa is an entrepreneur who entered the WordPress world when she decided to change her career and focus on what she really loves: travelling. Do not miss her story, because it’s extremely interesting and inspiring.

Welcome to our blog, Vanesa. It’s a pleasure having you with us! For those who don’t know you, tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with WordPress.

Thank you so much for inviting me David, it’s an honor and a pleasure to be here with you.

My relationship with WordPress began in 2015, when I decided to take a radical turn in my life and start a new career.

I am a graduate in Information Sciences, specialized in Advertising and Public Relations. I had been working as Human Resources Manager of different companies for more than 10 years, where I was involved in the processes of personnel selection, training, prevention of occupational hazards, development… I liked what I was doing, but I felt something was missing.

For a long time I had been thinking about starting something related to my passion: travelling. The simplest thing I could think of was starting a blog where I’d share my trips, but I didn’t want to do that. See, there’re thousands of blogs like that, and it’s very complicated to make a living out of this. So I kept looking for a niche within the travel sector that wasn’t covered.

I thought that, as a traveler, I’d love to have a web page where one could see all the bargains that usually take too long to find on the Internet. I was an expert in helping my friends and family find the best trips: flights, hotels, destinations… I was good at it, so why not make that skill my job?

At some point I decided that’s what I wanted to do, and so Exprime Viajes was about to be born. The only problem was I didn’t know anything about technology, so I didn’t know how to get started. A friend of mine told me she was going to install WordPress, a tool so simple that even I would be able to use it.

Since September 2015 there has not been a single day that I havent used WordPress, watching tutorials and reading blogs like Ayuda WordPress. In January 2016 Exprime Viajes was born.

Screenshot of exprimeviajes.com
On Vanesa’s website you will find many interesting travel offers.

It is clear that in a web like yours (exprimeviajes.com), content is everything. You have to be aware of all offers and update your website continuously. What is your routine? What do you do to manage your content?

As you say, content is absolutely everything. The followers of Exprime Viajes expect 7 to 9 travel offers daily, so we are always in continuous search of those bargains.

Also, once a week, we write a post with tips and tricks to travel cheaper. And once a month, we interview users who have enjoyed some bargain we shared in Exprime Viajes .

If you want a website like this to succeed, perseverance is key. It’s a 24/7/365 business. We have published new content on our website every single day since it was born.

As for the work routine, there are some differences depending on where I am. If Im traveling, I start my routine a 6:30 in the morning, which is my most productive moment (especially since the children are asleep). I schedule the content that has to be published during the day and I pack my things and enjoy my trip. In the afternoon I usually send the newsletter with the summary of all the offers.

When I’m home, my routine is slightly different. I produce the content of my website in the morning, but my schedules have to match that of my children’s school.

Anyway, it’s a business that requires a lot of flexibility and does not comply with strict schedules. Many times, offers appear at any time and must be published soon because they may last very little.

In the last WordCamp Barcelona 2018 you spoke of email marketing as a tool to grow a business. What role does email marketing play in your business? What are you doing to make it work? Do you have any advice for us?

Email marketing is the key strategy in my business. From the very first moment Exprime Viajes was born, it had a subscription form. Before the end of the year, more than 40,000 subscribers received almost a daily newsletter.

The best thing is that the list has continued to grow, becoming decisive for the growth of Exprime Viajes, and for the launch of other projects, such as a premium service.

Vanesa Gomez
Vanesa participated in the last WordCamp Barcelona 2018 as a speaker.

Because of the importance it has in the business, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve all the processes around our newsletter. To give you an example, we’ve developed a tool that accelerates de process of crafting and sending newsletters from half an hour to just a couple of minutes.

We should not forget about innovation either. We are now immersed in the revolution that comes with the introduction of “AMP for email” in email clients such as Gmail, which will allow us to design more dynamic and interoperable contents.

Having 100,000 subscribers in a newsletter is useless if only 2% of them open your emails.

Obviously, this strategy only works if we cover the basics: it’s essential to have “healthy” mailing lists. That is, you have to make sure your newsletter subscribers really are your objective public. Having 100,000 subscribers is useless if only 2% open your emails (and the costs ridiculously high!).

I send the newsletters as Vanesa by Exprime Viajes. Using my name in the from field gets a higher opening rate, because subscribers are more likely to open an email from a person than an email from a company. Also, it makes the emails more personal.

The subject of the mail is also key. We have to think about the hundreds of emails we receive daily in our inbox. What makes us open one or the other? Most of the time, the subject. That’s why we have to think very well what we are going to say (the shorter the better). Oh! And emojis work very well to stand out :-)

Finally, make sure to measure whatever you do. You have to do a lot of tests to find out what and when you get the best results: days an hours that give you higher opening rates, percentage of clicks, titles… A/B tests become almost indispensable.

A piece of advice? If you don’t have a subscription list, you’re losing money. Many people may think that they’re not necessary in their businesses, but I think nothing is further from the truth. You can receive feedback from your users that will help you improve, test new ideas, communicate new services, sell more products… And the best part is I have never had to worry about Google or other search engines, since all content is pushed to my users via email.

Now, don’t get me wrong—we obviously take care of our website’s SEO and use all the channels available to spread our word. For example, our marketing strategy uses Telegram and Web Push, very useful in impulse buying decision factors, as well as traditional channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You get my point :-)

We are plugin developers and, as such, our business model is based on the subscriptions to our products. You do something similar, offering the possibility of subscribing to premium content. Is it a model that we can apply to any type of web? What is your experience with this way of generating business?

No, I don’t think so, as you really have to give a premium content for which the user is willing to pay, and not all pages can offer it. You have to think about exclusivity, what you have or you can develop that differentiates you from the competition. Make sure you have something your visitors would be willing to pay for and go for it.

When a request becomes recurrent, you’ve found a business opportunity.

In the case of Exprime Viajes Premium, it has been a service demanded by the users themselves. We published many bargains that hardly lasted minutes, so many users asked to be notified first. When a request becomes recurrent, you’ve found a business opportunity. Hence the importance of emails that I mentioned before, since practically all the feedback is received through the mail.

Being the first Spanish travel website with this business format, and not having any type of reference, the changes and improvements are constant. When we started, we detected three types of travelers, for which we created 3 levels of subscription with different services associated to each one of them. This has already changed, as we update and refine our model.

It is a continuous learning, where the search for new tools that help to loyalty the current users, as well as attracting new ones, is a priority.

Tell us a little about how your web is under the hood. Why did you opt for WordPress? What plugins do you use to manage subscriptions, travel list, etc?

I chose to use WordPress in my business because of its ease of use. Had anyone told me a few years ago I’d have been able to make a web page with my null technical knowledge, I wouldn’t have believed them.

As for the plugins, we use “Paid Memberships Pro” with different extensions for our subscriptions. “Stripe” is our payment gateway. And “Quaderno” is the billing platform we use.

Other plugins that are helping us a lot within Exprime Viajes are Jetpack, Sumo, Yoast SEO, Telegram for WordPress, One Signal, and AMP.

Time to show that we’re all human. Share with us some blunder of the past and how you saved it :-)

One of the mistakes I’ve made in the past with my website was neglecting its updates. 10 months went by and I didn’t update anything, not even security-related stuff. That could have resulted in a total disaster!

Fortunately nothing happened, because of the WordPress Community. In WordCamp Santander, Tomás Sierra helped me improve Exprime Viajes and taught me how to keep it sound and safe.

As a WordPress user, is there something you miss and that you would like someone to develop? Maybe you can give a business idea to one of our readers …

Content publications through mobile. Given my way of life, I use the smartphone more often than my computer, so I’d really love to see better tools to publish content from my phone.

And to finish, who else should we interview? Tell us what 3 WProfessionals you would like to see in the next interviews and why.

  • Fernando Puente. A conversation with Fernando always involves learning something new. He’s a specialist in high traffic sites in WordPress, and provides a very enriching business vision.
  • Tomás Sierra is one of the organizers of WordCamp Santander, and specializes in security. His talks are very educational, and he always gives some great tips to keep our sites safe. Moreover, he’s now an entrepreneur too, so he sure has a lot to tell.
  • Isabel Gómez. Isa, a specialist in web design and development in WordPress, launched the “WordPress en Femenino” podcast earlier this year to give visibility to all women in the technical field. I think it’s a fantastic initiative.

Thank you very much again, Vanesa, for joining us on our blog. See you in a few weeks, folks!

Featured Image by Roberto Vázquez.

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