In a previous post we gave you some of the basics for getting started with an email campaign. As you think about the actual email messages you want to send, you’ll need to put some thought into your restaurant brand and how you communicate who you are, your email marketing goals, and what’s in it for your customer. We’ll cover these points in this post.

Understand who you are
Take some time to think through these questions: Who are we? What customer segment or demographic do we (want to) serve? What do we want to be known for? What is our restaurant’s personality? How do we stand out from the place down the street?

Think of your patrons as people, and think of your restaurant as people who serve people. If your communications convey this sense – people serving people - you’re much more likely to engage and connect with your email subscribers. Everything in your emails – including the style of writing you use - should convey your restaurant’s personality and values.

If creating customer emails isn’t your strength, you probably don’t have to look far to find someone to help. During a quick standup meeting with staff, you could take a few moments to ask the questions listed above. You’ll quickly discover who on your team “gets” your restaurant’s personality. Then sit down with one or two of them and give them the challenge to come up with a couple of emails to see who can convey your restaurant’s personality in writing.

Consistency is one of the keys to authenticity. So remember that conveying your brand and personality covers a lot of touch points. It’s important to have consistency not only in your emails but across media platforms: web site, social media and in-store.

Think like a customer
Think like a customer and not as an owner/operator. Put yourself in the customer’s seat, and consider how you would like to be treated and communicated with. To that end, here are a few guiding principles:

  • Constantly pushing your happy hour special or your new gift card program will make your customers feel like all you do is sell to them. Don’t overdo it by sending emails too frequently. Otherwise, you risk annoying customers and losing them to unsubscribes. Monthly is a great place to start. Weekly may be too often.
  • Only send emails that actually have value. So for each email you create, ask the question: what will my customers get out of this? Better yet, have a friend or family member review it and give you honest feedback. Who knows? They may catch that one embarrassing typo as well. On that note, have a fresh set of eyes (or two) review everything before you send.
  • For each email, ask one very important question: What action do you want the customer to take as a result of viewing it? We call this the call-to-action. Too many calls-to-action could confuse your reader and actually may have the opposite effect: no action. Do you want them to Like you on Facebook and bring a friend for 10% off both meals, and buy one of your cookbooks, and…? Better to build the email around one desired action and save other offers for a future email.
  • Hold true to your promise that you will never sell or give away their email address.
You don’t have to have a degree in marketing to understand your customers and what they want. And when it comes to using email marketing to market your restaurant, today’s marketing tools make it easier than ever to get started — without a huge investment of time or money. 

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