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Why every restaurant needs an email list (and how to build a great one)

If you want to get more customers into your restaurant, you need an email list.  Despite the huge increase in marketing for restaurants on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, email marketing remains the number one channel for engagement, lead nurturing and ROI.  We’ll show you 5 powerful ways to start building an email list, giving your restaurant the tools to attract new guests to your restaurant, as well as encouraging them to return.

Building an email list should be a priority for all restaurants

Using email marketing combined with quality, well-collected customer data captured throughout your customer’s journey will allow your restaurant to create effective, stand-out campaigns that offer extra value. Reasons why you need to make building your list a priority include:

  1. You’ll always own your email list.

Sure, lots of followers on Facebook and Instagram are great, but they all belong to that specific social media company in the long run.  If they ever fold, or close your account, your customer base, contacts and potential restaurant guests are gone too. Building your own email list for your restaurant means that you’re always in control of a set of data unique to your restaurant, essential if you want to promote your restaurant using delivery apps or open new venues. You’ll own your very own marketing list, giving you the tools to permanently nurture your customer from potential customers to loyal and returning restaurant guests. 

         2. Email easily works with mobile marketing.

The increase of smartphone and tablet ownership makes email a great marketing stream. With email, you can easily reach your customers without heavily investing in new technology.  Sending marketing communications directly to an email picked up instantly on a mobile device helps to personalise and boost the marketing message too, so it’s an important way to interact with customers on your list.

         3. You can send perfectly timed and personalised emails.

One of the best things about email is the scope for personalisation. With effective segmenting from data from customer interactions, you’ll be able to send offers and emails that are perfect for every single customer, every single time. For example, you can send an email reminder to book a table based on a customer’s birthday, or relevant offers and upsells based on how your customer has responded to emails in the past. This personalisation is vital for creating engagement and genuine interactions with your customers.  And as we all know, engaged guests are loyal ones.

         4. Email can be easily integrated with other marketing streams.

Although email is a top marketing method in its own right, email’s flexibility and low cost means it can easily be used to implement and support other campaigns. For example, if you’re running an Instagram competition or asking for feedback on your restaurant on Facebook, you’ll be able to use email to amplify these messages. The fact that it’s so flexible means you can send relevant emails throughout a campaign, responding to changing feedback or unexpected results very quickly.

         5. Email encourages instant interactions with your restaurant

Social media marketing is important for any restaurant brand, but email marketing makes tracking and creating action much easier than other marketing streams. With every email, customers are encouraged to act, whether that’s ‘book a table’, ‘check out our new menu’, or asking customers to leave an all important Tripadvisor review. This makes it much much easier to create an effective call to action. Even better, email marketing is easily tracked and measured, so you’ll know exactly what works, and what doesn’t.

3 ways for your restaurant to build an email list that really work

As we’ve established, email marketing is essential. But it’s also important to build an email list with quality, opted-in and engaged contacts.  Here are 4 ways you can build an email list for your restaurant.

  1. Offer your restaurant guests free WiFi

WiFi is now an expected service for many restaurant guests, allowing them to keep track of their social networks easily when dining with you. But it’s also a really effective way to quickly and consistently build up an email list for your restaurant. By offering free guest WiFi on the condition of an email address and a contact name, you’ll easily start to build up an engaged list of customers to nurture. You can also ask for extra information on signing up including demographic information and customer interests, giving you quality data to enhance your email list for future marketing messages. 

  1. Host a competition to win a meal in your restaurant

Hosting a competition is always a great way to boost your email list. Everyone loves the temptation of a great prize and it’s also a really effective way to promote your restaurant brand. Host a competition on your website or on social media, and make providing an email address a condition of entering. You’ll quickly boost your list, as well as increasing your social media presence and potential customer engagement.

  1. Offer useful, free content or special offers on your website

Everyone loves to get something for free, or for the price of sharing their email address at least. Offer new customers a collection of recipes, or a special offer coupon if they provide you with their email address. This is an easy way to collect already-engaged customers with your brand and it helps to build you email list quickly and simply.

Make sure to set customer expectations at the beginning

Developing a carefully combined strategy of email collection with engaging, personalised content will soon see your restaurant welcome more diners. But there are a few pointers that you must consider to ensure lasting success. Firstly, make sure that you set customer expectations. Make it clear to every customer, or lead whose email you collect what exactly your plans are for using their data. It’s important to respect customer email addresses by only sending communications relevant to what you promised at collection. Doing so will increase customer engagement with your brand too. After all, no one likes spam. Also, make it easy for customers to not only opt-out of any communications, but also opt-in to ones they want to engage with. You can ask for this WiFi log-ins, but it’s essential to create trust as well as an email list that’s engaged and interested in your brand.

Email list building will work for your restaurant

Email list building works, it’s that simple. Social media has an important place when it comes to building a restaurant brand, but owning an email list gives you control. By taking the time to develop a carefully built list of quality contacts, you’ll be able to provide your customers with added value and begin creating lasting engagement and loyalty, essential for any restaurant to survive.

Hannah Hambleton is the Content Manager for Beambox.com. Hannah writes about marketing trends for retail and hospitality businesses, helping them to create loyal and engaged customers to drive business growth. Beambox combines perfect guest WiFi with a marketing platform to provide lasting insight.

About author

Hannah Hambleton is the Content Manager for Beambox. Hannah writes about marketing and technology trends for the hospitality industry, giving business owners the tools to captivate, convert and drive growth. Beambox is a guest WiFi provider.
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