How to use data and email to turn guests into regulars

February 20, 2017 McKenzie Gregory

How to use data and email to turn guests into regulars
 
Though many restauranteurs might not know it, email + hospitality is a match made in marketing heaven.
 
If you’re communicating with potential customers, email helps you draw them into your restaurant for the first time with special offers, events, or new menu items.
 
If you’re communicating with returning customers, your emails help strengthen their loyalty with reward programs, VIP clubs, or stories that help them connect to your brand on a more personal level.
 
But it gets even better (and more powerful) when you use guest data to determine that messaging and deliver a personalized, valuable inbox experience to every subscriber. Here’s how integrating your guest data with email marketing can help you turn first-time guests into loyal brand advocates for life.
 

Get started with data capture

Realistically, you can’t do effective email marketing without:
  1. An email address
  2. Data to act upon
But what data do you need to capture in order to power your best email strategy?
 
First, map out your objectives: Do you want to get people into a loyalty program? To drive them to a certain location? To increase their amount of visits? 
 
Once you’ve identified the data you need to collect to achieve those objectives, know your basic capture points:
 
• Leverage traffic to your website to encourage email signups and collect new subscriber info (like location) on your form.
 
An example of using a signup form to collect subscriber location
 
• Think about implementing a “VIP Club.” It’s essentially an email capture form, but promising exclusive offers allow you ask people for more information.
 
• But keep friction to a minimum: A lot of people fall into the trap of asking for more info than they actually need, so only ask for data you actually plan on using.
 
• Collect information at your brick-and-mortar location using an iPad app or traditional paper cards.
 

Ask for data

If done right, this can be a great option, too.
 
For instance, ask subscribers to provide their birthdays, then follow up with a birthday message or offer when the date arrives. It's a great way to create 1-to-1 engagement with customers. Plus, birthday emails can lift conversion rates by 60% over non-birthday emails with the same offer (ClickZ).
 
 
An effective birthday email marketing campaign from a restaurant
 
Most people are willing to part with personal info if it means receiving offers and content tailored to their interests – but before you make the ask, put yourself in the shoes of your consumer: Would this request be annoying to you? What would you find valuable as a subscriber?
 

Take it to the next level

If you’re looking to get more advanced, you can integrate your email marketing with a platform like Venga.
 
Venga allows you to tie point-of-sale information to your digital marketing. Then, you can segment your emails accordingly to send your most relevant messaging ever. 
 
Some examples?
 
1. Big spenders
 
Let’s say Valentine’s Day is coming up. You know you’re going to be completely booked up, so how do you bring in the right people (AKA people who will spend a lot of money and not just order a salad)?
 
Venga allows you to dive into that data and segment out only people who, for instance, generally spend more than $100. Then, you can send your Valentine’s Day promo to just them and have more control over your guest breakdown on that crucial night. 
 
Patina Restaurant Group uses data and email marketing to invite only big spenders to a Valentine's Day event

 

2. Consumer habits

Have a special “wine pairings" dinner coming up? Send an invite only to regular wine drinkers who have spent at least $500 in the past three months. 
Recently integrated new gluten-free options into your menu? Let gluten-free diners know! 
Expanded your children’s menu? Spread the word to folks with little ones. 
 
Venga helps you do all this and more: If you’re capturing the behavioral data, you can segment off of it. 

 

3. Party size

If you run any sort of special events business, pulling party size data from a reservation platform like OpenTable (which integrates with Venga) can be super helpful when it comes to targeting email promotions for holiday parties, corporate events, etc. 
 
The Venga platform allows you to use party size data to power targeted emails

 

4. Lapsed guests 

Check to see which guests haven’t visited in 30, 90 days, 6 months, etc. Then, send them a re-engagement email to help bring them back into your restaurant. 
 

See the impact of your efforts 

The coolest part of all of this? 
 
Venga allows you to go beyond opens and clicks in your email marketing analytics, tying specific promotions to in-store revenue. Since today’s marketers are accountable for bringing in revenue and concrete results, this is a next-level feature to prove that kind of impact. 
 
Tie your email marketing efforts to in-store revenue using Emma email marketing and Venga
 
 
Want to learn more about our integration with Venga? Visit our partnership page, or watch the recording of our recent webinar with them for a deeper dive into the possibilities! 

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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