5 Essential Email Marketing Tips Every Restaurant Needs To Know
Restaurants often overlook the fundamentals of email marketing. Here are some basics that every restaurant should know:
1) Birthday Freebies
This is far and away the most common tactic I see restaurants employ: Sign up for our email list and you’ll get a free something on your birthday. You’ll often only hear from these restaurants once a year.
Everyone likes a freebie on their birthday but if you only get a customer through the door once a year to cash in on free food, why make the offer at all? Find ways to engage your subscribers continually and regularly to maintain awareness throughout the year.
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The second most common tactic restaurants employ is to use email as only a coupon-delivery channel. Sign up for our email and get coupons.
That’s fine as an initial draw to sign up but where restaurants fall short is either offering underwhelming coupons that don’t have enough value to get subscribers to the restaurant and/or using email strictly to deliver coupons and nothing more.
Again, see above. Find ways to engage your subscribers throughout the year.
Most restaurants are branded around a specific theme. Think of ways to expand upon that theme beyond coupons in your email content. Entertain your subscribers with content related to that theme while reminding them to stop in for a meal.
3) Tell Your Story
If people sign up for your email list to get coupons, give them coupons with great value. BOGO coupons are great value. But take the opportunity to build a closer relationship with your restaurant by telling your story over time. Include a tidbit of storytelling with each email.
Examples could be how and why the restaurant was founded. The background of the owners and employees. Share beautiful photos of the ingredients you use and an explanation of why they’re special. Talk about charitable causes you support. Share customer stories and not just quotes of why your customers love you (though those are great!), share their stories.
If your restaurant serves Italian food, share stories related to Italian culture; if you own a Thai restaurant, do the same with Thai culture.
Memories are made at restaurants. If someone gets engaged at your restaurant, ask them if you can share their story.
People are hard-wired to pay attention to stories. Telling stories will help build a closer relationship with your customers and give them something to talk about with their friends and family, prompting the best kind of advertising: Word of Mouth.
4) Not Interested
Never ever, EVER use an email address such as email@example.com to send your email communications. That tells your subscribers you don’t want to hear from them, which is a horrible message to send when you want to build loyalty and trust.
A better approach is to write your email communications in the first person voice and send them from the personal email address of the owner or manager. This will humanize your message, better convey personality, and create a sense of intimacy that will foster loyalty.
5) Measure & Test
Finally, I think a lot of restaurants fail to take full advantage of the analytics tools at their disposal.
For email, beyond open rates, restaurants should be paying attention to click-through rates as a measure of actual engagement with their content, what types of messages compel people to click, and what they do on your website after they’ve clicked on a link from your email.
Most email marketing systems also have basic A/B testing capabilities. Restaurants should definitely take advantage of these features to determine the send times that produce the highest open rates as well as what subject lines produce the most opens.
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