Restaurant owners are constantly challenged with new ways to fill seats. With competition popping up at every corner – it’s a difficult task competing for the consumer’s dining out dollar. And with families going out less (but still going out for special events like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc) – having a direct line to your customers is a very valuable tool. I’m talking about email marketing – something with a low cost and a proven track record of success.
Before you start down the road of any new marketing venture, you need to set goals. And realistic goals at that. You can’t expect to spend $1 a customer a year and fill your restaurant every Monday at 4pm. Not going to happen. But can you get more people at your Sunday after-church buffet? Sure you can. Fill up your reservation book on Valentine’s Day? Absolutely.
Email marketing can be used to get people interested in coming to your restaurant when you want them to. Slow at lunch on Mondays-Thursdays? Send an email to everyone aged 20-50 within 20 miles of your restaurant and offer them a free beverage to come in and try you out for lunch. Don’t forget to brag about your free wi-fi and quiet patio seating for those business lunch meetings!
Once you’ve set some goals – how are we going to get these people signed up on your list? I have a few ideas on how to build & strengthen your email marketing list, but I’m talking about actually how are you going to capture their information? With my email marketing program for restaurants – we have paper signup slips, iPad/tablet or computer kiosks for your in-store signups. But including signup forms on your website and social media profiles is equally important, if not more.
Speaking of social media marketing – it’s important to blend what you’re doing on your social media platforms with your email marketing program and visa versa. Having a unified message that spans across all of your channels promotes a clear, articulate voice that says ‘you’. Share some (or all) of your email marketing blasts on your Facebook & Twitter profiles and be sure to allow these people to sign up if they haven’t already. Use your social media platforms to promote your email marketing list and use your email marketing list to promote your social media platforms. Even your most loyal customer isn’t going to join all of your networks – so making sure your messages get heard everywhere is important.
Pair email marketing with your slow events to get more people in the seats. Seems like an easy concept, doesn’t it? If you’ve built your list thinking of how you were going to market to it, you’ve captured information like zip code, age, gender, favorite dish and/or ice cream flavor, etc. Use this information to send segmented emails that will get those people in the door. Send an email to all of the ladies who have told you that they enjoy your No Fat Key Lime Pie and let them know that they can get a slice for 30% off on Mondays. Or send an email to your older demographic males about their favorite beer on tap on Tuesday nights. It’s science – people want what they like and they like what they want. Let them know it’s available using email!
Using your offline marketing in conjunction with your email marketing is also another smart method to boost both campaigns. Next time you run an ad on the radio or in the newspaper, mention that birthday club members get 20% off on Mondays and watch your list grow. On the other side, you can use your email marketing to increase your views on your offline advertising – “look for us in the Sunday paper and let us know what you think when you come in for dinner – we’ll give you 20% off if you can show us the ad.”
There’s a lot more to getting started in email marketing for restaurant owners, but these small ideas should be a good starting point for you to start finding success. If you’re looking to get started with an email marketing birthday club – I know a guy..