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Menus, Marketing, & Management tips to grow your restaurant business.


How To Collect Your Customers' Email Addresses

Getting email addresses is the first step to a successful email marketing campaign

Restaurant email marketing is a proven way for restaurants to connect with their customers. Many restaurants send out email describing their specials, their new menus and upcoming restaurant events to their most loyal fans in an attempt to create repeat business, as well as generate word-of-mouth recommendations. Email is cheaper than traditional advertising, more personal and more informative to the customer.

Many restaurant owners and managers get stuck on the first step of creating an effective restaurant email marketing campaign—collecting customer email addresses. Some people are uncomfortable asking for such personal information, while other people find it awkward to slip it into the normal business transaction that occurs at a restaurant. Also, who should you ask for email addresses? Everyone who walks through your door, or just your regulars? And what do you do with the information once you have it? It can be easily lost, thrown away or misplaced, so you better have an idea of where to store email addresses.

Connect with Your Loyal Customers

The first step in collecting your customers' email addresses is deciding whose email address you want. Asking every person that walks through your door for an email address can be seen as pushy and overbearing. Why not start out by asking your most loyal customers for their information? Your regulars, the customers that you and your staff have a relationship with, and the customers that continually praise your food, your service and your restaurant's atmosphere are the ideal targets for your email campaign.

Once you have a solid base of email addresses, and an email campaign that offers your customers value, then you can begin to collect email addresses and send marketing emails geared towards the more casual visitor.

Comment Cards and Response Cards

The easiest way for your staff to collect email addresses from your customers is through comment cards and response cards. At the end of a meal, a comment card can be provided to the customer along with the check. You'll get valuable information about the customer's dining experience, as well as the customer's email address.

Filled out comment cards can be collected in a large box in the server's area. To make it even more successful, challenge your servers to get even more responses by running a contest. Award the server who collects the most response cards with email addresses $50 at the end of the month.

Host or Hostess Collects Email

Another tactic is to have your host or hostess collect email addresses before seating your customers. While you will probably get the most email addresses this way, this might make the customer uneasy and feel like he or she is going to be spammed. To keep up a level of goodwill among your customers, make sure the customer has an "out" when asked. "Would you like to be added to our email newsletter list?" allows the customer to choose whether or not her or she wants to share an email address.

Before you can start an email marketing campaign, you need access to your best customers' email addresses. Asking for email addresses in a polite and respectful way will make your customers look forward to your email newsletters or promotions.

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