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Restaurant Email Marketing: Best Practices and Tips

Restaurant email marketing is a great way to reach out to your customers on a regular basis and build long term bonds.  In the highly competitive restaurant space where almost every other restaurant is using emails to reach out to their customers, it becomes difficult to make oneself stand out from the crowd. However, if done correctly, restaurant email marketing campaigns help you to fill your restaurant’s tables and nurture long-term loyalty.

Can-Spam Act

Can spam act-Restaurant Email Marketing:

The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that lays down the rules for all commercial email. It is advisable to go through the guidelines of the Can-Spam Act before you begin your restaurant email marketing campaign. Here we are listing down the broad directives of the Act:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Every email communication must have a valid physical postal address.
  5. Every communication must include a clear and conspicuous way in which the recipient can opt out of getting an email from you.
  6. You must Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any unsubscribe button or opt-out mechanism you offer must be available for at least 30 days from the day you send your message. An opt-out request must be honored within 10 business days.
  7. If you have hired an agency or a person to market on your behalf, it falls on you to ensure what they are doing on your behalf is in agreement with the guidelines of the act.

Buying a customer list is never a good idea. It is recommended that you must have the implicit or explicit permission of your customers before mailing them.

Email Segmentation

Email segmentation basically refers to dividing your customer list into categories enabling you to customize your message according to the target audience in each category. Emails sent out to segmented lists have a 90.79% higher click-through rate than those sent to the non-segmented list.

Email Segmentation- Restaurant Email Marketing:
Effect Of List Segmentation on Email Marketing

Emails sent out to segmented lists have a 90.79% higher click-through rate than those sent to the non-segmented list. You can segment your lists based on

  • Geographic
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Customer behavior
Customer Segments- Restaurant Email Marketing:

As you gather more data you have on your customers, you can create better and more targeted segments. Here are a few examples of customer segments based on customer behavior.

  • Purchase history
  • Coupons Redemption Rate
  • Visit frequency
  • Average spends
  • Food Preferences
  • Cart Abandonments
  • Loyalty Members
  • Last purchase

Tailoring focussed campaigns for each of these customer segments helps you to deliver more value to your customers and obtain higher conversions for your business.

Email Automation

Automated Emails covert 2.4 times more than bulk emails. This requires you to define rules that trigger an email, which is sent out without any additional effort on your part. Automation ensures that you deliver content at the right time to your audience. It helps you to foster better customer relations by establishing an uninterrupted communication cycle and providing constant support to your customers.

Email Automation- Restaurant Email Marketing:

Let’s say you have a pop-up on your website inviting customers to join your birthday club. Once a customer signs up, he expects a confirmation email. Now manually sending out these emails is a tedious job! The better way to do it is simply automating such processes. Here are a few examples of nature of Restaurant email marketing campaigns that you could automate

  • Welcome email
  • Feedback forms
  • Confirmation Email
  • Birthday/ Anniversary mail
  • Cart abandonment
  • Subscription renewal emails
  • Emailers to non-active/dormant members

Split Testing

Split Testing- Restaurant Email Marketing:

Split testing helps you to optimize your campaigns for better conversions. Also referred to as A/B testing, it helps you to conduct controlled experiments with the goal of checking out which of two campaign options is the most effective in terms of encouraging customers to open, click, covert or subscribe.

Two variations of the email copy are sent to two small randomly generated sets of the customer. Half of the test group is sent Version A, while the other half gets Version B without any of the recipient’s knowing that they are part of an experiment. The results from each version are measured by the numbers opens or clicks and compared to determine which version performed better.

These are some of the parameters on which you can perform an A/B test to see which one does better.

  • Email Subject Line
  • Email Body
  • Email Design
  • CTAs

Responsive Design

Responsive Design- Restaurant Email Marketing:

While you may be designing your email on a desktop or laptop, you cannot be sure that all your target audience will access the same on a device. In fact with the proliferation of technology most customers check their emails, visit social media sites or browse the internet on their mobiles devices. Using a responsive email template helps you to optimize your email for different devices your customers may use.

Focus on CTAs

To encourage customers to take action, your email must have a clear and precise CTA. You should refrain from including too many call-to-action buttons in a single mail as this may confuse your customers and deliver sub-optimal results.

CTAs- Restaurant Email Marketing:

We recommend that you

  • Include CTA in the Email subject line.
  • Use contrasting colors to help the CTA stand out.
  • Link your CTA to a dedicated website landing page.

Integrate your Social Media Strategy

Every email is an opportunity to further connect with your customers on your social media handles. The good thing about connecting on social media is that you have the opportunity to update your handle more regularly than you can send an email. This means that your customers can have daily updates and reminders on offers.

Social Media Integration- Restaurant Email Marketing:

It is even better to add social share buttons to your email. Besides increasing the reach and visibility of your email, it helps you to grow your email list. This can also help you to identify key influencers- in terms of customers who are sharing your emails on a regular basis. The data can be used to create campaigns to harness the power of these influencers by providing them referral incentives.

Social Media Integrations- Restaurant Email Marketing:

Tips

  • Add social media buttons
  • Invite subscribers to share your Emails

Update Preference Center

While most marketers spend a considerable amount of time tweaking and optimizing their campaign, relatively less attention is given to overall customer experience. A preference center is an integral part of your brand identity. How much effort you put into crafting your preference center shows how much you care about the convenience of your customers.

Preference centers -Restaurant Email Marketing:

Allow customers full control over the

  • Number of Emails
  • Kinds of Communication
  • Ability to change Email Id
  • Any other preferences

Clean your lists on a Regular Basis

Cleaning your email list refers to removing inaccurate information from your list from time to time. It is a good practice to clean your customer list once every 90-120 days. You can do it manually, however, if you have a customer list exceeding a few thousand it is better to use an automated process.

Cleaning Your Email List -Restaurant Email Marketing:
Cleaning your email list
  • Get rid of wrong or spammy Email-ids
  • Remove customers who have not opened your emails for more than 3-4 months
  • Remove unsubscribes

Besides, reducing your email marketing costs, this exercise helps you to deliver better ROI as you are continuously progressing towards a set of audience who is interested in listening from your brand.

Figure the Best Days and Time to Mail

Tuesdays and Thursdays were adjudged to be the fest days to send out your emails by several studies in this domain. The best times  were

  • 6 a.m
  • 10 a.m.
  • 2 p.m
  • 8 p.m.
Best Day and Time -Restaurant Email Marketing:

Weekends, public holidays deliver lower open and click-through rates and the same goes for office hours. While there are several industries laid guidelines pertaining to the best time and days to send out an email. It is always best to figure out the days and times that work for you within the broader standard laid down by your business segment. You can do an experiment on this by varying the day and time that you send out your campaigns and comparing the results over a period of time.

Wrap Up

Finally, the success of your restaurant Email Marketing Campaigns depends on how well craft your messages and the effort you put in creating a unique experience for your customers. Keep these guidelines in mind while designing your next campaign!

How to Build an Email List for your Restaurant?

Email marketing is the fastest and the most efficient way to reach out to your customers and build long term bonds. The first step towards setting up your email marketing campaign is building a customer list for your restaurant.

Here are a few practical ways that will help you to Build an Email List for your Restaurant?

1. Collect Emails In Person

This old school strategy is still one of the most effective ways to collect emails. There are several ways in which you can do this. Place a small box at the check-out counter, prompting customers to drop their business cards.  You can take it a step further by adding a small incentive to the action; like a free treat in exchange of business cards. Another great idea is to promote it as a monthly raffle, where a single winner could be offered a free meal or dessert.  You would also want to train your wait staff to request customers to leave their emails at the time of check out.

2. Add an Email Optin to your Website

Email Optin- Build an Email List for your Restaurant

You have put in a lot of effort into building a great website and promoting it through ads and social media. Finally, you have managed to get a decent number of people visiting on your website and browsing through your menu. Now, it’s time to ensure that you are not losing any of these casual visitors or prospective customers. The way to do it is by adding an opt-in form to your website, nudging customers to sign up for your restaurant’s newsletter. Incentivize the deal by offering a free coupon- it can be something as simple as a sign -up and get free ice cream on your next visit.

3. Employ your Wifi as a Tool

Wi Fi- Build an Email List for your Restaurant

Are you offering free Wi-Fi to your restaurant’s customers? You can use the service as a tool to collect email ids. Configure the service in a way that the customers are required to submit emails to use the free wi-fi.

4. Use Technology To Build Email List for your Restaurant

There are several kinds of technology that you may be using at your restaurant which can be used to grow your customer list. For instance, your POS. Most modern PoS systems require customers to submit their Email Ids at the time of check out. You can download this data and use it for your email campaigns.

On similar lines, if your restaurant is running its loyalty program, which requires customers to sign in or subscribe using their email, you have the data at your disposal. The only thing you need to do is encourage customers to subscribe to the program or fill in their details. Your online ordering solution can also be a great source of customer data.

If you are using a guest management system to allow customers to make reservations or feedback software that send out automated messages to customers dining at the store, you can source email data from these systems for your campaigns.

5. Enlist Partners to Co-promote:

Tie up with local businesses to co-promote. Let’s say you own a pizza place, you can tie up with a local art school to display your sign-up info on their bulletin board. In exchange, you can have one of their posters at your restaurant.

6. Build Email List by Referrals

Request your current customers to forward or share your emailers with friends and colleagues. Don’t forget to add a sign-up form in the email body encouraging the people who receive these emails to sign-up.

7. Host a Contest

Contests are a great way to boost engagement on your social media handles. At the same time, they can be employed to collect email ids and build an email list for your restaurant can ask participants to submit their email ids to register for the contest.

8. Integrate Social Media into Your Strategy

Have links to sign-up on your restaurant’s Facebook Instagram or Twitter handle. Promote Your restaurant’s newsletter through social media and invite customers to sign-up for the same.

9. Join Our Club

Another great way to build an email list for your restaurant is to set up a Birthday or Anniversary campaign and invite your customers to join the club by registering their Emails.

Wrap Up

The success of your Email Marketing Campaign depends on how well you build an Email List for your Restaurant and customize your messages. With little effort, these tips can help you grow your customer list to kick-start your Email campaign.

Email Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant

Email marketing refers to sending out emails to promote your business. Restaurant Email marketing has been around for quite some time and is being successfully used by businesses to send updates about the brand, dole out promotions, offer coupons, and remain in touch with new and existing customers.

Some marketers erroneously believe that restaurant email marketing has lost its relevance with the introduction of new mediums to reach out to the customers. However, the fact remains that email marketing has evolved and remains an incredibly important marketing tool, and having clearly email marketing strategies for your restaurant can help you get better returns from your campaigns.

Here are some interesting stats to turn you into an email marketing enthusiast:

  • At least 91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis.
  • Data from Marketing Sherpa says that 72 percent of consumers prefer email as their source of business communication.
  • The average spend of customers buying products marketed through email is  138% more than those who do not receive email offers.
  • According to Optinmonster, only  15% of the marketing budget spent on email marketing, yields an ROI that is 28% higher than digital marketing.

Email Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant

Emails are a great medium to reach out and stay in constant contact with your customers. In fact, there are numerous creative ways in which you can use emails to send out the right marketing message to your restaurant’s customers. Here we have listed a few of those.

1. Get the Word Out

You are pretty excited about the new dish that you have just introduced to your menu. Now, you are dying to know how your customers receive this new introduction. Sending them an introductory offer to try the new dish through an email can help you get the word out.  Sending exclusive invites to longtime patrons makes them feel like privileged insiders and helps in building long-term bonds.

Pizza hut Emailer- Email Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant

2. Promote Offers/Special Days

Most restaurants have offers or deals marking special days or holidays. Perhaps, you have a planned a special for Fathers on the occasion of Father’s day or you are running deals on each day of the Pizza Month in October. You could send updates on these offers and promotions to your customers.

A monthly newsletter is a great way of letting your customers know about all the offers they can avail of in any given month. A follow-up email just a few days prior to the event or promotion can be sent out as a reminder to help them make the most of the offer.

BackYard Burgers Emailer- Email Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant

3. Fundraisers

Many restaurants regularly host fundraisers on behalf of local organizations as a part of their community-building initiative. Sharing the details of such events with your regular customers can help you to increase participation in these events while sending out the message that you as a brand care for the community.
Chipotle Emailer- Email Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant

4. Behind the Scene Stories

Every communication that you send out to your customers does not necessarily need to sell a product. You can add value by sending out curated content- every once in a while. It could be a story from your restaurant- a gesture by a customer that touched your heart, or an account of how and where you source your raw materials, you can even share strategies that you follow at your restaurant to manage waste. In fact, you can share anything that you feel may be of interest to your customers.

5. Share a Recipe

Every once in a while, you can share the recipe of a popular dish on your menu. This is a great way to open a line of communication with your customers. You can invite your customers to pour suggestions on how they would modify the recipe if they were to prepare the same at home. You can even go ahead and share some of these interesting ideas on social media.

6. Promote Restaurant Services

There are so many services that your restaurant may be offering which your customers may or may not be aware of. You can create a series of emails to help them use these facilities better.

For instance, reservations- where and how they can reserve a table at your restaurant.

Online ordering- You maybe be taking orders on-call or orders placed on your website or you may have tied up with third-party online ordering services. Are your customers aware of all the ways in which they can place an order? Do they know how easy it is to pay for these orders? These are questions that you can deal with in these emails.

Delivery- In many cases, the customers are not aware that there favorite eating joint offers delivery, or how far do they offer delivery, what are the charges. An email listing out all the possible FAQs could be very helpful.

7. Promote your Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a great way to retain existing customers. The ground staff in your restaurant has very little opportunity to explain the nuances and benefits of the program to store visitors. Email provides you a great medium to send out details of the program to your customers from sign-up to reward redemption.

8. Send out Personalized Offers

Emails offer your endless opportunities to send out personalized offers to your customers. Personalized emails have a much higher conversion rate. You can segment customers based on 

  • Previous purchase history
  • Location
  • Kind of coupons they usually redeem
  • Offers that interest them most
  • Open Rate
  • Dormant/ Active Customers
  • Abandoned Carts

These are just a few examples. Depending on the nature of your restaurant and the kind of offer you have in mind you can segregate customers who you feel would be interested in the particular offer you are sending out.

Chipotle Personalized Emailer- Email Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant

9. Collect Feedback

You bring great food to the table, offer exceptional services and believe that are you are doing your best. But no successful business can do without customer feedback. Emails are a great way to collect feedback. You can ask for customers feedback on specific services like online orders, delivery or more general feedback about the food and services at your store.

10. Bday emails

Retaining your current customers is up to 7x cheaper than acquiring new ones. Did you know that Birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate than promotional emails and on an average, they generate a 342% higher revenue per email than promotional emails?

Running a birthday campaign can help you bolster engagement with your customers. You can plan and set up a campaign to collect birthdays by asking your customers to sign up on your website, or you can even embed a form on social media sites like Facebook to collect such data. Once you have collected this data, use it to set up an automated campaign through MailChimp or any other application to send out specials to your customers on their birthdays.

11. Retarget Website Visitors

You have invested a lot of effort and money in building a great website and prompting customers to visit your website or app. But are you following up with these visitors?

You may have data on what pages your customers are visiting where they are dropping off, but are you putting this data to use?

Adding a pop-up form to your website nudging customers to subscribe to your newsletter helps you keeping a track of these visitors and once you have the list, you can use it to market to these customers.

Wrap Up

Email Marketing is the fastest, easiest, and most inexpensive way to reach customers. We would love to know what strategies are you using to get more out of your Email Campaigns.

7 Reasons Why You Need A Loyalty Program for your Restaurant?

Loyalty Programs for your Restaurant
  Loyalty Programs for your Restaurant

Much before the migration to mobile platforms, restaurants had been successfully using punch cards to build a regular customer base.  With the advent of convenient mobile platforms, the entire landscape of loyalty programs is witnessing a revolution of sorts. Roughly 30% of all restaurants are offering a customer loyalty program, and with 69% of consumers claiming their choice of a restaurant may be influenced by where they can earn rewards, it is evident that a loyalty program for your restaurant is here to stay.

7-reasons-why-you-need-a-loyalty-program-for-your-restaurant
                                   Loyalty Program For Your Restaurant

In fact, there are a number of ways in which a loyalty program can help restaurants in expanding and retaining their customer base. We will walk you through them one by one.

benefits of having Loyalty Programs for your Restaurant

 

1. Targeting the Right Customer

One of the most pertinent problems faced by marketing campaigns is of delivering personalized and relevant messages to the consumers. This is where loyalty programs can step-in; with a focus on specific geographic locations and on people who have already shown interest in the product, loyalty programs can help businesses deliver customized messages to the customer. Personalized and relevant messages are more likely to be transformed into action, and this also helps in turning one-time customers into repeat customers.

2. Building a Rich Customer database

A loyalty program gives you the ability to build a database of your customers, which includes email addresses and preferences. With this information, restaurants can build personalized marketing strategies. For instance, if you know a particular customer’s preference for nutty Hawaiian salad from his order history, you can use this information to offer a coupon for the same as a weekly reward.

With the rich customer data at its disposal, Restaurants can even customize offers to lure dormant customers.

3. Improving Customer Relationship

With the database created through the loyalty program, restaurant owners can create a happy dining experience for their customers. This could include tweaking orders as per customer preferences or for offering exclusive offers on birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions. Such gestures are very relevant in the restaurant business and go a long way in building a strong relationship with your guests.  A happy customer is more likely to bring in new friends to his or her favorite eating-place.

4. Generating Word of Mouth

Loyalty program for your restaurant can be used to create exclusive offers for your valued customers. Jonah Berger, in Contagious, stresses that exclusive offers bolster sales by creating a feeling of belonging in the customers. By their very nature, exclusive offers create a social currency, which customers are inclined to share, generating word of mouth for your business in the process. Restaurants can experiment to create a wide range of exclusive offers, which could include offering opportunities to make reservations for events before the public, or an invitation to try out a new entrée dish before it is introduced on the menu.

5. Loyalty Programs for Brand Advocacy

Referral incentives linked to loyalty programs are a great way to motivate your loyal customers to advocate your brand. Several restaurants are already leveraging this technique by offering rewards to customers who advocate their brand on social media by posting videos or reviews.

6. Loyalty Programs can help in Increasing Sales

Loyalty programs connected to a mobile platform can send regular reminders about menu options and specials. They can also be used to send coupons and promotional information around meal times or on special occasions to take advantage of the top-of-the-mind marketing strategy. Loyal customers not only buy more frequently, but they also spend more on average. In fact, several customers have admitted that they are usually inclined to spend more than they intend, just to reach the next tier in the reward system.

7. Better Return on Investment

Compared to other marketing strategies, loyalty program brings a better return on investment as customers are more likely to respond to messages that they have agreed to receive, and that are customized according to their individual preferences.

With their inherent advantages and high success rate, loyalty programs are set to become the most indispensable tool for restaurant marketers.

Five Steps To Prepare For Mobile Email Marketing

Mobile Email Marketing: Stats say 55% of email is now opened on a mobile device (Source: Litmus “Email Analytics” (Nov 2016))

You have 3 seconds on mobile to capture the reader’s attention (Source: Movable Ink)

Multitasking with email. In US we check email while watching TV or a movie (69%), in bed (57%), and on vacation (79%). ( Source: Adobe digital Insights “ADI Email Survey 2016”)

The biggest turnoffs people have with Mobile Email Marketing:

  • Receiving too many (44%),
  • Not relevant (37%),
  • Too small to read and interact with (32%),
  • Website and landing pages, not mobile optimized (26%)
  • Not well formatted for mobile phones (21%) – 

(LiveClicker and The Relevancy Group “Exploring the Benefits Real-Time Email – Driving Marketing Effectiveness” (2015))

Now that we have established the having a “Mobile First” strategy is a must, let’s look at some of the mobile email marketing strategies that you have to adopt in order to make this strategy a reality.

1. Sign-Ups

Your customers have smartphones tied to their hip and that means your sign up strategy has to be mobile friendly. Have QR codes or user-friendly bitly URLs that are visible, and which your customers can scan or type in easily. Given that your customers are looking for instant gratification, it is always useful to have an incentive that they can use immediately – this solves two problems for you. Your customers will provide a valid email ID that they can access on their mobile device. This translates to the fact that when you send a follow-up email or marketing emails they are more likely to open and read them

2. Welcome Emails

Once they sign up, make sure that you send a welcome email within a very short time span. Your welcome email should thank them for signing up, tell them what to expect from your brand and allow them to set their preferences.  Including a sign-up offer can be a bonus add-on. 

3. Email Format

 Without a question, your emails have to be mobile optimized. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind

Design

Choose a responsive design which works well for any device that your customers may use to access your email. ESP such as MailChimp or Constant Contact have designs that are mobile friendly. The design includes font size as well as how the emails would look horizontally and vertically

Subject Lines

As per Inc.com research, Emails with 6 – 10 words subject line have an open rate of 21% while those with longer subject lines have a lower open rate.

Content-Length

Stick to a 3-second rule where the customers are glancing through your content. The length should fit in one or two screen sizes and anything beyond that should be compelling enough to make your customers scroll down.

Images & Links

Your content should be a mix of images and text – the images should be optimized from a size and dimensions perspective. Your image size should be around 5-6 KB. The links should be clickable and make sure that the landing pages are mobile optimized. Include your social media links as you would like to get your customers to follow you on your social media channels as well.

4. Call To Action

According to the latest report, around 57% customers are more likely to visit a store after searching for a product on their mobiles. We cannot emphasize more on the CTA in your email. Your CTA should be linked to a coupon or offer that can be redeemed immediately. Note that we need to have one or two CTAs – not more than that as you want your customers to click on a link that will enable them to take action

5. Analytics

Now that you have designed emails and sent them, you want to check how they have fared. Some of the metrics you want to keep track of – which devices, open rates, click rates, the location where the emails have been opened. Also, integrate Google Analytics in order to view and analyze which strategies worked and what was their impact.

In conclusion, smartphones have revolutionized communication between customers and businesses. Now businesses have to adapt to this paradigm shift and focus more on “mobile-first” strategies in order to take advantage or be left out.

Mobile Email Marketing
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