Our clients frequently ask how often they should send emails to their guests. While there is no magic number, we do have guidelines and tips for best practices. In the “old” days, restaurants paid a lot of money to do direct mail and print advertising, which generally reduced frequency and kept them from overwhelming their audience. But with email being relatively inexpensive, it’s tempting to send your target audience frequent messages. Jay Goltz, a writer with the New York Times, has coined the term “e-nnoyance elasticity.” e-nnoyance elasticity is the number of people who will unsubscribe to your list as you increase the number of emails you send. We don’t want guests to unsubscribe, so finding a happy medium for just the right email frequency will help.
As a general rule, we suggest emailing your customers once a week. This is entirely dependent on the information you have to share though – you may find it necessary to email less often or even more than once/week. If you can answer YES to at least one of the four questions below, then you should consider sending an email:
1. Is the content new?
If you email your customers each week with the same subject line – “This Week’s Specials” – you’re going to lose subscribers. Most of your subscribers don’t want to see the same thing over and over, and chances are, your specials don’t always change week to week. You may want to think about sending these out once/month. If you do have changing specials, it’s certainly okay to send out a weekly email, just work on changing up the subject line to reflect the specials.
2. Is there an action that can be taken right away?
Consider including an offer that has to be redeemed within 24-48 hours of receiving the email. This forces action from your subscribers, keeping them engaged and your restaurant full. Be sure to include text within the email that specifically stats the end time and that the guest must show the email (whether printed or on their phone) when redeeming the offer.
3. Are you adding value to your guests’ day?
Get creative in your emails – they don’t always have to be self-promotional. Share a chef’s recipe from your kitchen or point your subscribers in the direction of the farmer’s market where you buy local produce. Providing value outside of the events of your restaurant keeps guests engaged and more receptive to your emails.
4. Do you have something different to offer from your competition?
Did your restaurant just win an award? Are you the first restaurant in the area with the newest microbrew? Hosting a fundraising event or have a live band playing? These are all great opportunities to inform your subscribers and brag a little. Guests love to get to know your restaurant and the wonderful things you are doing.
Great! You’ve got ideas for content and you’re ready to start your email marketing program. Good news, we’ve got tips to help!
Tips for successful email marketing programs
Use an email marketing tool
We strongly encourage using an email marketing tool rather than a desktop email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird. Email marketing tools, such as eateria, provide easy to manage lists and email templates, as well as full reports on the success of your campaigns.
Monitor your email stats
All email marketing platforms will provide you with stats – the most important to monitor include open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes. Open rates are a direct reflection of your subject line and the audience’s familiarity with your brand. Click-rates can often help you determine which content is most relevant to your subscribers – though for a restaurant this stat generally isn’t as important depending on how your emails are set up. Unsubscribes need to monitored closely – it gives you insight into frequency and relevancy. If you have a high number of unsubscribes, you may want to review your emails and when you are sending them. People unsubscribe for several reasons – too many emails, content is relevant to them, or you’ve done something to annoy them. Keep these stats in mind when creating and sending your emails.
Choose the right day and time
Once you’ve sent out enough emails, you’ll start to see patterns in open rates and responses which will help guide your campaigns. Pay close attention to the days and times that receive the best open rates and engagement. Also keep in mind the best time to send out reminders on events – does the day before work best or how about a week before? Again, keep track of these items to achieve email success!
Have a lot of events happening in one week? Send a digest
What do we mean by digest? Let’s say for example you have happy hour specials throughout the week and a live band on Saturday. It’s completely acceptable to send these in one email. For a digest email, the email design is very important. Keep text short and the layout clean, make it easy to scan.
Email doesn’t have to always be formal and informative . Don’t be afraid to hold contests, remind your guests to follow you on social media, or take polls. Your guests will be more engaged and could provide valuable feedback for your restaurant.
As always, the team here at eateria specializes in the restaurant industry and email marketing. We’re always here to help and answer any questions you have.email marketing for restaurants, restaurant email