Restaurateurs traditionally communicate with customers in a variety of ways, including newspaper ads, radio spots, and direct mail. However, email still stands as one of the most effective solutions available to restaurants to target and build relationships with their loyal customers, increase sales and get the most bang for their marketing buck. It is also one of the most affordable and easy-to-use marketing tools available, allowing you to reach out to new and existing customers, right in your store and beyond.
For restaurants, email is well suited to:
Build Brand Awareness. Email keeps your restaurant top of mind with your guests. With more and more consumers making their next meal decision online and from the palm of their hand, email provides quick and easy offers and promotions for your guests.
Drive Sales. Provide value-oriented offerings to your email list to increase guest frequency. Imagine if each of your guests comes in for one more visit per month, and how that will impact your top-line sales!
Promote Customer Loyalty and Advocacy. Your loyal customers are what drive business. With email, you can reward your customers for their loyalty and also work to improve the customer experience by asking for feedback. Email can also easily be forwarded to your customers’ friends and family, making it simple to gain even more recognition and grow your customer base.
10 Steps for Effective Email Marketing
With a simple email program, restaurateurs can let their guests know about everything from special offers and new menus, as well as ask for customer feedback. Here are a few pointers to ensure you make the most of your messages.
1. Be Relevant.
Ensure that your message is personalized and your email’s content is relevant to your customer. Give them what they want: create a “VIP” experience and offer promotions that you don’t provide through other channels.
2. Be Creative.
Announce exciting offers, news and promotional events with your emails that will grab your customers’ attention. As the quantity of commercial emails increases, make sure your email stands out in your guests inboxes. Encourage your customers to come to your restaurant for special events, holidays, and unique promotions like “Tax Day” or even “Pajama Day.”
3. Select Your Vendor Wisely.
Choose an email service provider that meets your restaurant’s needs. Find a vendor who implements responsible email practices, is easy to use, and has quality customer service. Deliverability is a key component of your email program: do not discount its importance to your response rate. Make sure your vendor is white-listed, so that the emails you send don’t get caught in spam filters.
4. Integrate Online and Offline Channels.
Let your customers know about your email program in your store, through community events, in print, and online. Provide incentives for your staff and customers to help spread the word about your program. When all these channels work together, you increase the effectiveness of your online marketing program.
5. Authenticate Your Emails.
Support email authentication initiatives and make certain that your service provider complies. This ensures that your messages get in the inbox and not in the spam folder.
6. Identify Yourself.
In every message, include your restaurant’s contact information and familiar branding. Your guests will feel more comfortable when they recognize you — and if they have questions regarding your offer or they need directions, your contact information helps them easily reach you.
7. Be Open and Responsible.
8. Manage Message Frequency.
If you over-email or under-email your customers, you run the risk of them unsubscribing. Send one or two messages per month to keep them interested but not overwhelmed.
9. Shape Customer Experience.
If what you say, and when you say it, is always relevant then you are doing more than informing a customer about your product—you are helping to create a customer experience. Don’t forget to take that into account with each email you send.
10. Integrate with Social Media.
Don’t miss the opportunity to extend your relationship with guests. Add links to your social media profiles on networks like Facebook and Twitter. Collect Likes and Followers’ info from social sites, and funnel these new guests into your email program. Use a tool like Fishbowl’s Social Media Publishing to post from a single platform, streamlining your online marketing activities.