Email marketing is one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers. While it's common for online businesses, it's also very effective for brick and mortar businesses, including restaurants. In fact, sending compelling and relevant emails gives you a way to publicize specials, events, new dishes, send out coupons, and tell people about anything new. Let's look at some of the ways to make email marketing work for you.
How to Grow Your Email List
There are actually quite a few ways that restaurant chains can build responsive email lists.
- Let people sign up on your website. Offer them a free gift such as a book of recipes or a coupon. One good way to get signups is to create an exit popup that shows when people are about to leave your site.
- Promote your email list via social media. Remind people of the benefits on your Facebook page and posts, tweets, Instagram posts, and anywhere else you're active.
- Have people enter their email address to access your Wi-Fi. You can also use this as an opportunity to ask a few basic questions (e.g. where they live, age range). As more and more people use their devices wherever they, go, free WiFi is now one of the best ways to learn about your customers and get them on your email list.
- Let people sign up manually. Some customers still prefer to sign up the old-fashioned way, using a pen. Keep a notebook near the register where people can enter their emails. Let them know that they'll receive value for this in the form of coupons and special offers.
Ways to Leverage Email Marketing
You can use email in many ways to engage with your customers. Keep in mind that simply keeping in touch is a good thing in itself. If they've enjoyed dining with you in the past, seeing your email might be enough to put the idea in their head to head your way for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here are some ideas for ways to make your emails more effective.
- Make sure your emails are well written and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Each message reflects on your brand so you want to convey a professional image.
- Be consistent. Consistency is important to keep your business fresh in customers' minds. A newsletter, whether it's sent out weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, is a good format for staying in touch with customers. In addition to talking about your latest specials and events, you can put in interesting tidbits such as recipes, food traditions in different regions, and nutritional tips.
- Plan ahead to publicize holidays and events. People often make plans such as dinner dates, holiday parties, and celebrations well in advance. Plan your campaigns so you send out emails about your special events at least a couple of weeks in advance (even further for big holidays). For example, start sending out emails about your Valentine's Day specials soon after the New Year.
- Promote a loyalty program. If you don't already have a loyalty program for your restaurant, you should consider starting one. You can offer people free meals, entrees, beverages, or desserts as they accumulate points. Email is a perfect way to let people know about your loyalty program.
- Make it easy for customers to order or book a table. If you take reservations, make sure there's a link in your emails to the booking page as well as a phone number if they want to call. If you deliver, link to a menu from which people can order.
- Segment your list. Sending out the same emails to all your customers is the usual way to start a mailing list. However, as your list grows, it's advantageous to segment your customers so you can address their specific interests. You might, for example, segment your emails based on customers' location (especially for chains with locations in different areas), whether or not they have kids, or what time of day they typically dine at your establishment. To do all this, of course, requires you to learn as much about your customer demographics as possible.
Email marketing can be a powerful tool to promote customer loyalty and entice people to visit your restaurant more frequently. Think of as many ways as possible to get customers and website visitors to sign up for your list.