When it comes to building customer loyalty, email is still one of the most reliable methods for marketing-savvy restaurateurs. Social networking is the modern and headline-grabbing tactic, but if you want to have a results-driven marketing strategy, you should definitely incorporate email into it.
As popular as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone over the age of 18 who doesn’t have an email account, and now that emails are easily accessible via our mobiles and smartphones, your restaurant can keep in touch with their customers and interact with them around the clock. Let’s take a look at some of the best email tips for restaurateurs:
Do your homework
To get the best out of your email marketing campaign, you need to do your homework so you know which software provider is the best for you and what you will get for your money. Many email marketing companies will offer you a free account for up to a certain number of emails and users, so carefully consider the number of emails you are likely to send, and how big your list will be. A small restaurant in a sleepy village might not need tens of thousands of subscribers, but a busy city center restaurant might. Check out this useful comparison guide for AWeber, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor – three great email-marketing solutions before you make your choice.
Build a list
There is not much point investing in email marketing if you have nobody to send those emails to. You need to build a list to send your emails to, and there are a number of ways to capture these details, including:
- Newsletter subscription on your website – folks will enter their email address to opt-in to receiving news and updates from your business
- Customer comment/review cards in your restaurant
- Competitions and loyalty cards – in-house and online
- Social media – Interaction with customers, ask for opinions, photos, comments, etc.
If you follow these tips, you will soon find that your email list begins to grow. Now you just have to know what to send your subscribers!
Have a strategy
You must have an email marketing strategy in order to keep your list growing and to avoid people hitting the unsubscribe button. It is far easier to lose subscribers than it is to keep them, so get your team together and devise as many content ideas as possible so you can keep your subscribers entertained and informed.
Your strategy could be as simple as sending your latest blog posts, news, updates, menu changes/updates and special offers to your list on a weekly basis, to having different types of emails sent out on different days. For example, Monday could be ‘Inspiration Day’, where you send out a recipe idea to inspire your subscribers when they’re back at work, whereas the end of the week could be focused on relaxing and enjoying the weekend. This is a great opportunity to promote drinks offers and any special weekend deals on meals.
Aim for engagement
If your emails are one-sided, there’s a good chance that both sides are going to become bored and uninspired. Your emails should come across like they are being sent directly to that subscriber and nobody else, even if they know that there are hundreds of other people receiving the same news.
Special holidays in the calendar year – including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, New Year’s Day, etc. – should be promoted to your email list, and should be worded in a way that it comes across like a personal invite. This will make all the difference when it comes to engagement and converting your subscribers into loyal customers.
It is worth remembering that the majority of email marketing services will enable you to input an individual customers name into the email you send out. This is 100% essential, as a generic “Dear Loyal Customer” email will often come across as insincere, and may lead to a lost subscription if there is no personal touch involved.