In today’s marketing world where everything is becoming increasingly dominated by social media it can be easy to lose sight of one of the most valuable methods of creating and maintaining customer loyalty: email marketing.
So what are the benefits of using this method of marketing for an independent restaurant?
According to this source, small businesses are spending 15% of their marketing budgets on email marketing, meaning that it is still coming in over face to face and social media marketing expenditure. The reasons for this are likely some of the following:
- Time saving
Once the business has invested the initial effort into developing a nice template for email communications, or even found one online and adapted it, all that is involved is changing some wording and replacing graphics for each communication sent out. This means that the potential work of printing and handing out leaflets to potential customers in person, or investing in advertising to be put into magazines or newspapers (two other common methods of advertising for small restaurants), can be done by one employee in just a couple of hours, allowing more time to be invested into other marketing and business activities. This leads to the second reason…
- Frequency of communication
Because it doesn’t take long to compose a good email to customers, a restaurant would be able to send communications out more frequently enabling them to send out news and offers as often as they want – although this shouldn’t be taken as an excuse to bombard customers, nobody likes receiving tonnes of spam! This means that customers will always be up to date, and can be given new incentives and reasons to visit on a more frequent basis, something that is particularly important when it comes to encouraging people to come back to a restaurant. ‘Nudging’ customers in this way is often seen as one of the most effective ways of marketing – read more about this method here.
- Reduced cost
Email marketing can be done well at a very low cost to the business. Very few employees are needed to work on the email, there are no costs for phone lines, printing or postage and you don’t even need a designer. There a huge amount of services out there that will host email marketing and allow a small business to edit a host of pre-designed templates that can be altered and sent out as desired, available for very reasonable prices. There are few other marketing channels where a business can spend less and get such a large return!
- Measuring success
Using platforms and tracking software when sending out marketing emails will allow a great deal of tracking, from measuring the percentage of customers who open the email to measuring how many click links and even how many people go on to redeem an offer. These metrics are often very clear and easy to understand for someone with little marketing knowledge, and can allow the business to get a feel for what kinds of emails are most effective to improve in the future. Bananatag offer a free account that works with Gmail to track up to 5 emails a day, so you can get a feel for the kind of service offered before buying.
- Easy to target
It’s very simple to start collecting email addresses from current customers, or encouraging new customers to sign up in order to get special offers, and you can even allow people to ‘share’ the emails that’s sent out to others which will further widen the reach! This is referred to as ‘earned media’ according to Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick (2012) and refers to publicity generated by increased awareness of a brand. Emails can be personalised and sent out to people by name helping the restaurant to build relationships with consumers, and can help to collect more information to allow even more targeted emails to specific groups in the future.
Overall, there is very little to lose and lots to gain through having a strong and frequent email marketing strategy, and for a small business such as a restaurant, it is a key method of gaining feedback from customers by tracking the effectiveness of different kinds of communications. According to this source, in the UK businesses gained a return of £38 for every £1 spent on email marketing in 2014, so it is important to make sure that this is not an area being neglected! According to Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick (2012) however, it is important to ensure that digital marketing is still used with traditional marketing methods such as print media to form a strong, multi-channel communication plan.
To learn more, I would recommend reading the following posts about email marketing:
Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2012) ‘Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practise’. [Online] < http://lib.myilibrary.com.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/Open.aspx?id=399626 > [Accessed 30/1/16]