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Bring Customers Back with Restaurant Loyalty Email Marketing

How Restaurants Use Loyalty Email Marketing to Increase Business

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Are you thinking about ways to increase business through your loyal customers? A customer loyalty program can help you do this. Here are some examples and tips from restaurateurs just like you on getting started and achieving success.

Starting a Customer Loyalty Program

Angela Ruggiero, who is responsible for public relations for the Long Beach, New York-based Monterey Restaurant, shared some insight on how they started their customer loyalty program and how they promote it. Monterey started a campaign to engage loyal customers at the end of December 2009 with particular focus on sharing news about specials for New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.

Ruggiero says it’s a good idea to start a program or campaign like this at the end or beginning of a quarter for tracking purposes. It gives you the best picture of ROI (return on investment) by starting it here, she says.

Using Social Media to Collect Email Addresses

Monterey's program started with announcing specials for these holiday events and their weekly Friday Freebies prizes via Facebook and Twitter. Followers have to engage via email to win the prizes. Monterey announces winners publicly using Facebook and Twitter. Ruggiero says that they track the number of emails submitted for these deals each week and use those as benchmarks.

“Friday Freebies is part of our Facebook/Twitter VIP Loyalty Program,” Ruggiero says. “As part of this program, exclusive to our fans and followers, we promote the Friday Freebies (typically free appetizer vouchers and discounts on next dining experience). In the future, we hope to launch an ambassador program to help those who’ve already expressed their interest in us.” Monterey's goal with the ambassador program is to create a new loyalty program tier with more rewards for referring new patrons to the restaurant.

Managing a Loyalty Program Alongside Social Media

Ruggiero gave some great advice on managing your online presence—including your loyalty program. She says you have to be willing to put in some time, not just updating statuses, but also listening in social platforms to hear what customers want. “It helps to listen in order to effectively respond. In order to keep your message top-of-mind, content should be uploaded various times throughout the day,” Ruggiero says. “It’s important that no more than one or two people manage such sites in order to avoid cross messages and duplicating or disseminating inaccurate messages to your audiences.”

If managing your email list and your social media sites sound daunting, don’t worry. Fishbowl has a service that does everything for you. Fishbowl will work with you to plan, develop, design, write and execute your email and social media marketing efforts. Learn more.

Leave Your Email Address at the Door

Another restaurant called Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits (an indie chain in the Northwest and soon Canada), has their patrons leave their email address at the door. With their Backstage Pass customer loyalty program, Brian Roach, in charge of marketing for the chain, says they promote signing up inside the restaurants. Their incentive is to know about specials and exclusive discounts. Every time a patron purchases with them, they earn credits, which are redeemable for cash and food items. They receive standard perks such as a $5 credit for every $100 spent and a free lunch buffet every eighth visit. They also send special offers via email to members throughout the year.

Respect Your Members

Roach says your customers have given you permission to contact them by signing up for your loyalty program, so it’s important that you respect your relationship. He says it’s important to only email when you have something important to say. He also suggests the importance of listening to your customers and responding to them in a timely manner. Backstage Pass-holders have offered Rock Wood insights they use in the business, even today.

Written by: Amanda Brandon

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