“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Peter Drucker, father of modern business management
It is essential for modern restaurant owners, managers, and marketers to anticipate consumer preferences and adapt their practices accordingly. The essence of this lies not just in understanding the changing dynamics of customer behavior, but also in leveraging technology to meet their needs. One such powerful tool is email automation and drip campaigns. This isn’t some new fad; it’s a tried-and-true method that’s fueled rapid expansion at a wide variety of companies, eateries included.
What is Email Automation?
Email automation is a digital marketing strategy that involves automating the sending process of email communications to specific individuals or groups based on predefined triggers and actions. It allows for personalized, timely, and relevant communication with customers without the need for manual intervention.
A restaurant, for instance, may have a thank-you and reservation details email delivered to customers automatically just after they make a reservation. The restaurant could also set up a series of automated emails to be sent to customers who have joined their loyalty program, such as a welcome email, followed by emails containing special offers or exclusive content.
Key Elements of Email Automation
- Segmentation: This involves dividing your email list into smaller, more specific groups based on certain criteria such as dining frequency, food preferences, or geographic location. By segmenting your email list, you can better cater your messages to the interests and needs of your readership.
- Personalization: This is about making your emails feel more personal and relevant to the recipient. Personalizing an email can be as simple as using the recipient’s first name or as sophisticated as using their browser history or purchasing preferences.
- Triggered Emails: Triggered emails are sent immediately after an event, such as a reservation, newsletter subscription, or shopping cart abandonment.
- Drip Campaigns: Automated email sequences, or “drip campaigns,” are sent to recipients over time. The goal is to nurture the customer relationship and gradually guide the customer towards a desired action.
- Analytics and Reporting: The success of your email marketing initiatives may be measured and analyzed with the use of analytics and reports. This can help you make data-driven decisions and continuously improve your strategy.
Types of Email Automation and Drip Campaigns
Email automation and drip campaigns can take many forms, each designed to accomplish specific goals. Below are several common types:
- Welcome Series: This is usually the first interaction a new subscriber has with your restaurant after signing up for your newsletter. The welcome series might include an introduction to your restaurant, a special offer to encourage their first purchase, and other useful information about your menu or loyalty program.
- Onboarding Series: If your restaurant has an app or loyalty program, an onboarding series can guide new users through the features and benefits. Things like point systems, reservations, and web-based ordering systems fall under this category.
- Abandoned Cart Series: If a customer starts an online order but doesn’t complete it, an abandoned cart series can remind them of what they left behind and encourage them to finish their order. This can be particularly effective when combined with a time-limited discount or incentive.
- Re-engagement Series: For subscribers who haven’t interacted with your emails or visited your restaurant in a while, a re-engagement series can help rekindle their interest. This might include a special “we miss you” offer, news about what’s new at your restaurant, or a request for feedback.
- Post-visit Series: After a customer visits your restaurant, a post-visit series can enhance their experience. This might include a thank you email, a request for a review, or an offer for their next visit.
- Event-based Series: For holidays, special events, or promotions, an event-based series can get customers excited and encourage them to participate. This might include a countdown to the event, exclusive offers, and a recap or thank you email afterwards.
- Personal Milestones Series: Recognizing personal milestones, like birthdays or anniversaries, can make customers feel special and valued. This might include a special offer, a personalized message, or a gift.
Role of Email Automation and Drip Campaigns on Restaurant Growth
Email automation and drip campaigns play a crucial role in restaurant growth by allowing restaurants to maintain consistent, personalized communication with their customers. They help to build customer loyalty, drive repeat business, and boost sales.
For example, a restaurant might set up a drip campaign for new customers that includes a welcome email, a follow-up email with a discount code, and subsequent emails introducing different aspects of the restaurant. This gets people interested, gets them to buy something, and keeps the restaurant fresh in their minds.
Restaurants can save time and money by automating these procedures. They can also make certain that no client is forgotten and that every client gets the appropriate message at the appropriate time.
Email automation and drip campaigns are powerful tools that can significantly contribute to restaurant growth. They enable restaurants to deliver personalized, timely, and relevant communications to their customers, fostering strong customer relationships and driving business growth.
Why Email Automation and Drip Campaigns are Relevant in the Digital Age for Restaurants?
In today’s digital age, email automation and drip campaigns are more relevant than ever for restaurant marketing. Here’s why:
- Consumer Expectations: Modern customers expect personalized, relevant, and timely communication. They want to feel valued and recognized by brands. Email automation allows restaurants to meet these expectations by delivering personalized emails based on individual customers’ behaviors and preferences.
- Increased Efficiency: Email automation saves time and resources by automating tasks that would otherwise be manual and time-consuming. This enables restaurants to focus more on their core business operations, like cooking delicious food and providing exceptional service.
- Scalability: As your restaurant grows, it becomes more challenging to maintain personal relationships with every customer. Email automation allows you to maintain these relationships at scale, ensuring that all customers receive consistent and personalized communication.
- Data-Driven Decisions: Email automation tools often come with analytics capabilities, allowing restaurants to track and measure the performance of their email campaigns. This data can provide valuable insights, helping restaurants make informed decisions about their marketing strategies.
- Customer Retention: Email automation and drip campaigns can significantly improve customer retention by nurturing relationships with customers. Regular, relevant emails keep your restaurant top of mind, encouraging repeat visits and fostering customer loyalty.
- Revenue Generation: Ultimately, email automation and drip campaigns can drive significant revenue for your restaurant. By encouraging repeat visits, promoting special offers, and upselling or cross-selling products, these strategies can increase the average spend per customer and boost your bottom line.
In the digital age, where competition is fierce and customer expectations are high, email automation and drip campaigns offer a powerful way for restaurants to stand out, engage their customers, and drive growth. By leveraging these strategies, restaurants can thrive in today’s digital landscape.
Case Study: Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut, one of the world’s largest pizza chains, has successfully implemented email automation and drip campaigns in their marketing strategy. Here’s how Pizza Hut does it:
- Personalized Deals: Pizza Hut utilizes customer data to send personalized email deals based on past orders or location-specific promotions.
- Loyalty Program: Their emails often promote their loyalty program, Hut Rewards, encouraging repeat business by offering points for each dollar spent which can be redeemed for free food.
- Seasonal and Event-based Campaigns: Pizza Hut is known for sending emails based on seasons, holidays, or sports events, capitalizing on these occasions to promote special deals.
- Abandoned Cart Emails: If a customer starts an order online but doesn’t complete it, Pizza Hut sends an automated email reminding them of their unfinished order, encouraging them to complete the purchase.
- Interactive and Visually Appealing Emails: Pizza Hut ensures their emails are eye-catching and interactive, often including engaging graphics, GIFs, or even games.
Pizza Hut’s profits have suffered from these actions. By personalizing their email campaigns, they’ve been able to increase customer engagement, boost sales, and enhance customer loyalty. Moreover, their automated campaigns save them time and resources, allowing them to focus on creating quality food and delivering excellent service. Pizza Hut’s success with email marketing is a testament to the power of email automation and drip campaigns in the restaurant industry.
The Benefits and Impact of Email Automation and Drip Campaigns
So, what is the real impact of email automation and drip campaigns on restaurant growth? Here are some highlights, supported by data from the business world:
- Increased Customer Retention: Boosting client retention by only 5% can raise profitability by 25% to 95%, according to research by Bain & Company. Email automation helps to maintain constant contact with customers, fostering loyalty.
- Boosted Engagement: Campaign Monitor reports that segmented campaigns drive a 760% increase in revenue. By segmenting email lists, restaurants can send relevant content to their customers, boosting engagement.
- Reduced Marketing Costs: Gartner research suggests that properly executed email marketing can provide a return of $44 for every $1 spent. Email automation helps reduce marketing costs by automating routine communications.
- Improved Conversion Rates: According to WordStream, email marketing has a conversion rate of 2.3%, compared to 1% for social media. Automated emails with personalized content can significantly improve conversion rates.
15 Best Email Automation and Drip Campaigns Strategies for Restaurants
1. Welcome Emails
The first email your customer receives after subscribing is the welcome email. Make it count. Thank them for subscribing and providing useful information about your restaurant. You could also include a discount code to encourage their first purchase.
Use customer data to personalize emails. This may involve little more than addressing the recipient by name in the email or may include intricate manipulation of the recipient’s preferences and activity history.
3. Loyalty Program Promotion
Use email automation to promote your loyalty program. Send an email introducing the program to new subscribers, and regularly update members about their points and rewards.
4. Birthday and Anniversary Emails
Celebrate your customers’ special occasions with personalized emails. This could include a birthday or anniversary wish, along with a special offer or gift.
5. Event-based Emails
Capitalize on holidays, seasons, and local events with relevant email campaigns. Promote special deals, themed menus, or event-related content.
6. Abandoned Cart Reminders
If your restaurant offers online ordering, set up automated emails to remind customers of their unfinished orders. These emails can significantly increase conversion rates.
7. Re-engagement Campaigns
If a subscriber hasn’t interacted with your emails or visited your restaurant in a while, send them a re-engagement email. This could include a “we miss you” message and a special offer.
8. Post-visit Follow-ups
Send a follow-up email to customers after they eat at your restaurant, thanking them for coming and requesting feedback. This not only enhances their experience but also provides you with valuable insights.
9. Upselling and Cross-Selling
Use email to promote additional products or services. For example, if a customer often orders a certain dish, you might recommend a complimentary beverage or dessert.
10. Educational Content
Share interesting or useful information related to your restaurant or food in general. This could be recipes, behind-the-scenes looks, or food facts.
11. Customer Testimonials
Share positive reviews or testimonials from happy customers. This not only adds credibility to your restaurant but also encourages other customers to visit.
12. Exclusive Offers
Make your email subscribers feel special by providing exclusive offers or early access to new menus or events.
13. Regular Newsletters
Keep your customers updated about what’s happening at your restaurant with regular newsletters. This could include news, upcoming events, or new menu items.
14. Reservation Reminders
If your restaurant accepts reservations, send automated emails to confirm the reservation and remind the customer of their booking.
15. A/B Testing
Email subject lines, body copy, and calls to action should all be split tested on a regular basis to evaluate what resonates best with your target demographic. Use these insights to continuously improve your email campaigns.
Each of these strategies can play a valuable role in your email automation and drip campaign. It’s crucial to pick tactics that work well with your restaurant’s image, mission, and clientele.
15 Email Automation and Drip Campaigns Red Flags for Restaurant
1. Lack of Personalization
Sending generic emails that aren’t tailored to the recipient can lead to low engagement rates. For example, if you send an email promoting your new vegan dish to a customer who frequently orders steak, they’re unlikely to be interested.
2. Overwhelming Frequency
While you want to stay top of mind, sending too many emails can irritate your subscribers. Flooding their inboxes with daily emails when they signed up for a monthly newsletter can result in unsubscribes.
3. Neglecting Mobile Optimization
A significant number of people view their emails on mobile devices. Emails that aren’t optimized for mobile may not display correctly, leading to poor readability and potentially frustrating your customers.
4. Ignoring Customer Preferences
If a customer has indicated that they’re only interested in receiving emails about your wine list, sending them emails about your new dessert menu could be seen as disregarding their preferences.
5. Poor Segmentation
If you send a promotional email for a store event to subscribers who live in another city or country, it’s unlikely to be relevant or appreciated. Segmenting your email list based on factors like location or dining preferences can help ensure that your emails are relevant to the recipients.
6. Absence of a Clear Call-to-Action
Your email’s call to action (CTA) should direct readers in the direction of that email’s stated purpose. For example, if the goal of your email is to promote a new menu item, your CTA could be “Order Now.”
7. Not Testing Emails
Without testing, you’re essentially guessing what will work best for your audience. For example, you could test two different subject lines to see which one results in a higher open rate.
8. Forgetting to Clean Your Email List
Over time, some email addresses may become invalid, or subscribers may become disengaged. Regularly cleaning your email list can help maintain your sender reputation and improve your email engagement rates.
9. Sending Emails at the Wrong Time
If you send an email at 2 am, it might get buried in your subscribers’ inboxes by the time they check their email. Testing different sending times can help you determine when your subscribers are most likely to read and engage with your emails.
10. Not Tracking Email Performance
If you’re not measuring open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate, you’re missing valuable data that might improve your email campaigns.
11. Lack of Consistent Branding
Consistent branding helps build recognition and trust with your customers. If your emails look different every time and use a variety of tones and styles, it can confuse your subscribers and weaken your brand image.
12. Irrelevant Content
The content of your emails should always be relevant and valuable to the recipient. For example, sending an email about your seafood special to a customer who’s allergic to seafood is not only irrelevant but could also be seen as insensitive.
13. Not Complying with Email Laws
Laws like the CAN-SPAM Act in the U.S. and GDPR in Europe set rules for commercial email, establish requirements for commercial messages, and provide recipients the right to have you stop emailing them. The penalties for noncompliance might be severe.
14. Ignoring Customer Feedback
Customer complaints via email about the frequency or content of your emails should be taken seriously. This data can improve your email marketing approach.
15. Sending Emails Without a Purpose
Every email you send should have a clear purpose or goal. In an email to customers, encourage them to try a new menu item in a simple and engaging way.
How to Make an Effective Email Automation and Drip Campaigns Plan for Restaurants
Creating an effective email automation and drip campaign plan for your restaurant involves a series of steps that include understanding your audience, segmenting your email list, creating compelling content, and analyzing your results for continuous improvement. Here is a detailed tutorial:
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you start crafting emails, it’s crucial to understand who your audience is. What are their dining preferences? What kind of offers are they likely to respond to? You can better cater your emails to your readers’ interests if you have a thorough understanding of your readership.
2. Set Your Goals
What do you want to achieve with your email automation and drip campaigns? Whether it’s increasing online orders, boosting foot traffic, promoting a new menu item, or building customer loyalty, having clear goals will guide your strategy.
3. Segment Your Email List
By dividing your email list into subsets depending on users’ actions, interests, and other characteristics, you can tailor your messages to each subset individually. For instance, you could send a promotional email for a wine tasting event to subscribers who’ve shown interest in your wine selection.
4. Create Compelling Content
Your emails should provide value to your subscribers. This could be in the form of special offers, updates about your restaurant, useful information about your cuisine, or exclusive content. Make sure your message resonates with your audience and is true to your brand.
5. Design Your Emails
Your emails should be visually appealing and reflect your brand’s identity. They should also be optimized for mobile, as many people check their emails on their phones. Ensure your call-to-action is clear and compelling.
6. Choose Your Automation Triggers
Decide what actions will trigger your automated emails. This could be a new subscription, a customer’s birthday, an abandoned online order, or a long period of inactivity.
7. Plan Your Drip Campaigns
Drip campaigns involve a series of emails sent out automatically on a schedule. Plan the sequence and timing of these emails to gently guide your subscribers towards your desired action.
8. Test Your Emails
Before sending out your emails to your entire list, test them to ensure they display correctly on different devices and email clients. Also consider A/B testing different elements of your emails, like your subject lines or call-to-action, to see what performs best.
9. Monitor Your Results
After sending an email campaign, open rates, click-through rates, and conversions can help you assess its success. Use these insights to continuously improve your campaigns.
10. Review and Refine
Email marketing is a continuous process of learning and improving. Regularly review your results, learn from your successes and failures, and refine your strategy accordingly.
By following these steps, you can create an effective email automation and drip campaign plan that helps your restaurant achieve its goals and build stronger relationships with your customers.
Summary Checklist of Action Plans
- Collect and Segment Your Email List: Start by collecting emails from your customers and segmenting them based on their preferences and behaviors.
- Plan Your Drip Campaigns: Identify the messages you want to communicate to each segment and create a schedule for your drip campaigns.
- Design and Personalize Your Emails: Use a responsive email design and personalize your messages to increase engagement.
- Test and Refine: Monitor your campaigns, conduct A/B testing, and refine your strategy based on the results.
- Don’t Forget to Automate: Use email marketing tools to automate your campaigns and save time and resources.
In conclusion, email automation and drip campaigns aren’t just marketing gimmicks; they’re powerful tools that can drive significant growth for restaurants. As a restaurant owner, manager, or marketer, knowing and leveraging these resources can boost your profits.