Even though social media has taken the limelight, a lot of importance is still given to email marketing.
For starters, email marketing is hitting home runs with ROIs.
Email’s also one of the most well established platforms. Gmail alone has over a billion users!
It’s a channel used by almost everyone in both their personal and professional lives.
Social media might be the new “sexy” channel, but it’s email that’s driving meaningful daily conversations.
So should you, as a restaurant owner, leverage email marketing too?
We think you should!
By the end of this article, you’ll be making more money through email than ever before. Read on to learn how to run successful email campaigns.
More Reasons Your Restaurant Should Email Diners
ROI is important. You want the best bang for your buck.
And email marketing works wonders with ROI. An article on Inc.com stated that 67% of businesses list email marketing as their highest earner.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons you should start sending email campaigns:
- It’s affordable and easy to control
Email service providers offer fuss-free prices for varying packages (some even offer a free service for up to 2000 email subscribers). Through these platforms, you can control the message and the recipient of your email.
- It allows direct communication with your leads
Your messages reach individual customers at their preferred email address. No middleman, no limiting algorithms like the ones on Facebook and Instagram, and it’s completely private allowing for a better 1:1 connection.
- It keeps your restaurant top-of-mind
By consistently emailing your list, you continuously keep diners aware of your brand and what’s happening at your restaurant.
- It helps retain customers
Encourage sign-ups for your loyalty programs and keep your customers engaged with exclusive content via email. It makes them feel special enough to keep coming back.
- It’s easy to maintain
All you need is one platform and a few templates that you can keep altering. Save time creating content by automating these campaigns with specific triggers.
- Again, it has great ROI
The consensus fluctuates, but we’re looking at $30 – $40 returns on every $1 spent. Who knows, if you implement your campaigns well, you can achieve a higher number.
With the right strategy in place, it’s clear that email marketing can add substantial value to your restaurant.
But how do you create this right strategy?
Time. Energy. The works.
To save both your time and energy looking for best practices, below is a list of steps to help you reach your email marketing goals.
Steps to Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy
If you are, great!
Now to get into the nitty-gritty of how you can master email marketing, here are some basic steps you should follow:
1. Choose an Email Marketing Service
If you’re thinking of using Gmail to send out emails, let me stop you right there.
Sending emails one by one is a tedious process. Plus, it goes against various spam filters and regulations that have mushroomed recently.
What you need is a secure and automated system. An email marketing service equipped with strategic features should simplify your email marketing lifecycle.
Some popular email marketing platforms include:
- Constant Contact
Before signing up with one, compare the best email marketing software that’s suitable for you.
Your needs may differ from the next restaurant.
Here are some things to consider before making a decision:
Freemiums are great for restaurants with smaller marketing budgets. If you decide to go for a paid service, choose one with a free trial period where you can first test the features. Only pay if you’re comfortable. Check what you’re paying for: number of subscribers, list of features etc.
One of the must-have features is automation via triggers. For instance, welcome emails should be sent immediately after a sign up. Can you create a trigger to send the email instantly and automatically?
Are you comfortable designing templates from scratch? If not, browse through preset templates. Do you find them easy to edit? Is your experience on their website a good one?
- List-building and segmentation
Check how your lists are tabulated. Can you automatically segment specific opt-ins? Are the email addresses that you collect compliant with regulations automatically?
You might need to work with more than one online platform. For instance, if you want to import customer emails from jumper to Mailchimp, can the service you choose do this with ease? Another integration you might need is a payment tool.
- Analysis and reports
A report should be generated for every email campaign. Every email marketing platform, however, will provide you with differing data. Refer back to your goals and check if you’re getting the data fields you need.
You may come across issues in the future. How easy is it to contact the support team? Is there a listed phone number or is it email only? Do you know their operation hours or location that they are based from?
Choosing an email marketing service is a long-term commitment so research well and pick wisely.
Did you know? You can integrate your jumper account with Zapier, which in turns allows you to process customers you chat with via jumper into the email providers listed above and many more!
2. Segment Your Lists
One mistake restaurant marketers often make is not segmenting audiences earlier on in their marketing lifecycle.
When you create lists in your email marketing platform, think ahead of what messages you plan to send out and to whom you are targeting.
For instance, instead of adding all diners in one email list, divide them using the information you have at hand.
Some ways you can define your lists:
- Are they members of your loyalty program? Add them to a “loyal customers” list so they receive exclusive members-only emails. This will entice more sign-ups and help get repeat orders.
- Did they sign up via your website? Filter them into a “website” list. When sending out emails, analyze the data to determine specific messages you can cater to them in the future.
- If you have information about your customers’ birthdays, add them to a separate list for each month. This way, you send emails to people born in specific months (example, sending March babies a promotional email at the end of February) instead of spamming every email on your list.
Pro tip: Filter customers who place online food orders via jumper into a “jumper customers list” so you can send them specific messages to encourage them to place orders again.
3. Collect Emails
Now that you know how to target your diners, start collecting emails and direct them to the right list (your email marketing platform should automate this for you!).
Some ways to gather email addresses:
- Opt-in forms – these can be done as pop-ups or sidebars on your website or on your social media platforms.
- Offline – add a “sign up to our email newsletters” at the bottom of your physical receipts. Get customers to join in by offering them an instant reward for signing up. You can also collect their email address from forms for your loyalty program or feedback.
- Integrations – gather emails via online platforms where you connect with your diners e.g. reservation platform or order taking tools like jumper.
While doing so, remember to comply with data regulations and privacy policies. Read up on the CAN SPAM Act, GDPR, PDPA or your local laws to ensure you’re not emailing leads that did not voluntarily sign up for your emails.
Don’t be intimidated by these regulations. In fact, research shows that if you comply, your email marketing campaigns will bear wholesome fruits.
5. Create Templates
Align your template designs with your brand’s color scheme and other marketing collateral.
Prepare templates for different types of email such as welcome emails, text-based emails, and even promotional campaigns. Having templates saves time as you only have to tweak the messages instead of creating new templates over and over again.
But remember: all your templates must be mobile-friendly.
Do so by creating single-column templates that run more smoothly on mobile devices.
Luckily, most email marketing platforms allow you to preview your campaigns across different devices and displays. Use these tools before finalizing your templates.
6. Send Emails
You’re now ready to send emails.
Prepare a flowchart of what you communicate to your ideal diner.
Here’s a suggestion of how you can do it:
- Start with a simple welcome email
- Send promotional emails on a monthly basis
- Every few months, send an additional email to gather feedback or run a survey to understand your customer better
- Always send transactional emails (e.g. thanks for your order) as they are known to receive eight times more open rate than regular emails
Use automation to trigger these emails. For example, when a person signs up, they should automatically receive a welcome email without you having to send one manually. This will save you countless hours and put a lot of your marketing on autopilot.
When to send out your emails, you ask?
For promotional campaigns, start by following best practice timings and then analyze what works best for your customers and adjust as you go along.
7. Keep Growing
As you grow your email list, do regular housekeeping to maintain its integrity. Take note of emails that bounce often as these will affect your open rates.
Review your campaign reports and pick up what works. If you’re still unsure which campaigns work better, apply A/B testing. This is where you split a list or segment in two and send slightly different messages.
You then monitor the response to see which one resonates best and brings the best results.
Once you get more information from existing and new sign-ups, place importance in sending personalized messages with customers’ names or email them on their birthdays.
Remember: DO NOT use words that trigger your emails to be sent to spam boxes.
Stay updated with data collection regulations and send only accurate information to customers who have signed up.
Pro tip: Want to know if your email campaigns are working? Here’s a list of benchmarks from email service provider MailChimp to keep you on track with industry standards.
9 Promotional Email Marketing Campaign Ideas
Now that you understand what encompasses a long-term email marketing strategy, here are some content types and ideas that you can incorporate into your campaigns.
When to send: When they first sign up
What to send: A welcome note from your team, a one-time offer for signing up
Call-to-action: Make a reservation / place an online order to use your coupon now (add an expiry date)
When to send: During seasonal changes. If you’re in a country with four-seasons then during winter, summer, etc. In Asia, for example, seasons revolve around fruits such as the “Durian”
What to send: Pictures of hot-selling items, a discount for that item or for the total bill
Call-to-action: Make a reservation / place an online order to use your coupon now (inform customers that item is limited)
When to send: During off-peak hours or seasons (e.g. tea time, public holidays where people are away etc)
What to send: Information about value-for-money items, meal combos, set meals etc
Call-to-action: Make a reservation / place an online order during specific days/times
When to send: Spread it out to be sent before, during and upon ending of holiday promotion
What to send: A holiday greeting, special promotion for customers during the holiday promotion period
Call-to-action: Make a reservation to avoid disappointment (make it appear as though you will be getting a lot of bookings and diners have to book early)
When to send: When loyalty campaigns are not getting sign-ups, off-peak seasons to entice customers to come back
What to send: Benefits of signing up to your loyalty program and becoming a member, member-only promotions, plus extra benefits for signing up via email newsletter
Call-to-action: Extra benefits for “signing up now”
When to send: During a customer’s birthday month
What to send: Birthday greetings, special facts about their birthdate, birthday coupon
Call-to-action: Make a reservation / place an online order to use your coupon now (valid during birthday month only)
When to send: When there are updates or when you have no other content or promotions for that month
What to send: Updates on loyalty programs, behind-the-scenes of chefs at work, new menu information, new outlet, new integrations for reservations of online orders
Call-to-action: Depending on the update, the idea is to drive diners to sign up to your loyalty program, visit your restaurant or place an online order
Pro tip: If you don’t have updates about your restaurant, you can share a recipe idea that could appeal to your customers.
When to send: During special events held at your restaurant
What to send: Exclusive information about event to be held at your restaurant or information on how they can host events at your restaurant. Also add a calendar for upcoming events.
Call-to-action: Interested to join the event? Place your reservation here and receive an additional 10% off your total bill
When to send: During off-peak periods and when you need to review if marketing strategies are working
What to send: A thank you note for patronizing your restaurant, request for feedback or to fill up a survey, or request to update their preferences and profiles (helps to keep your mailing list clean)
Call-to-action: Provide us with this information and get a coupon code for $5 off your next visit or order upon completion of the survey
Pro tip: Make your call-to-actions seamless. Use online reservation tools or order taking tools like jumper to get your customers to take action without a hitch.
Merging Online with Offline
Permission-based email strategies, where customers opt-in to receive updates voluntarily, is a great way to retain existing diners.
Your online efforts will result in regular diners filling up your restaurant.
But don’t stop there.
You must encourage new customers to join in your list so you can keep them coming back too. Offer walk-in customers incentives to sign up by offering instant rewards. Offer your wait-staff incentives to get your customers to sign up.
Email marketing is a great way to engage your most loyal diners. Couple it with a well maintained social strategy that attracts new diners, and you’ve a powerful 1-2 combo that’s all but guaranteed to increase sales.