A feast of devices and digital marketing channels has created a feeding frenzy for marketers hungry to reach new customers and retain existing ones. As we explored in “Marketing on the Menu,” digital marketing is a must-or-bust proposition for today’s restaurant operations. To keep pace with a digitally accelerating marketing environment filled with digitally savvy consumers, you need to capitalize on the foodservice trend of tapping into tech and get a handle on what it brings to the table.With an average return on investment of 4,300%,1 email can be an especially potent marketing tool for foodservice operators looking to grow their customer base and make deeper inroads into millennial dining. Email has also been cited as the most effective digital marketing for customer retention.1 Bear in mind that millennials, who are now more numerous than baby boomers, have been born and raised on digital, so reaching them on their devices is the key to help drive sales. Millennials are so in love with their smartphones, they touch them 43 times per day and 30% of them touch more than four devices in any 24-hour span.1
The Skinny on Email Overindulgence
It’s important to understand that millennials and every other consumer group are constantly bombarded with email offers. This glut causes consumers to simply delete emails without opening them, opt out, and banish pesky email marketers to the Siberia of their spam folders.
Fact is, American companies blast consumers with an average of 1.47 million emails a month, and 91% of people have unsubscribed from emails.1 Consumers weed out email offers that aren’t relevant to them, so if you’re considering email marketing, better make it good. The challenge is to whet the consumers’ appetite for your emails so they open them and take the action you intend.
When done right, emails convert three times better than social media, and integrate easily with it.2 You can use email to inform customers about your latest post or social media promotion, and by adding social sharing buttons to your emails, you can build trust and increase click-through rates by 158%.2
So how do you make sure your email efforts are primed for success? Here are a few tips:
Choose the right ESP: If you’re a small foodservice operation, you may be worried that email marketing is too complicated as a DIY project, but don’t be. Email service providers like Yesmail and MailChimp handle the technology behind the scenes and provide easy-to-use interfaces that allow you to automate campaigns and track results.
Make it mobile: Whatever ESP you decide on, make sure your emails will be mobile-friendly to maximize results. 56% of emails are opened on a mobile device or tablet,3 so unless your email renders well across devices it’s likely to underperform.
Build a list: To ensure the effectiveness of any email campaign, it’s vitally important to collect email addresses of customers and prospects who are likely to be responsive. Add opt-in links on your website and social feeds, so people already engaged with your business can receive email updates and special offers. Create a refer-a-friend program where customers receive an incentive like a discount or freebie for forwarding your emails or providing friends’ email addresses.
Serve delicious morsels of content: Don’t bombard customers with emails and remember to keep your emails short and to the point, with a clear message that delivers value or a tangible benefit to the recipient (e.g., exclusive recipe, limited-time discount, VIP event invitation, juicy news bites). Think of email as an occasional treat that a subscriber should look forward to.
Make it personal and recognizable: Be sure your message is framed in a consistent layout that you can reuse to save time and build brand recognition. And the more personalized your emails can be, the better. Use first names, acknowledge birthdays with special thank-yous, and tailor emails to customer preferences and locations.
Tantalize taste buds with photos: A picture is still worth a thousand words, especially in an email where you can economize words with photos of mouthwatering dishes that speak volumes about the quality of your food. Showing photos to capture the excitement of an event or to illustrate a topic also catches the eye and adds credibility. Seeing is believing, and can lead to buying and higher check averages.
Have any experiences with email marketing or come across any email promotions that you’d like to share? We opt in to hear all about it below.