Like it or not, being in the restaurant business today means being in the business of mobile communication. In fact, a November report from Litmus on email analytics found that today 55 percent of emails are opened and read on a mobile device.
It's a form of communication that has to have immediate impact since decisions are made in mere seconds about whether to even read one in the first place. So how can restaurateurs literally reach out and grab the consumer through email and then successfully promote the brand's initiatives with the kind of punch that pulls diners in to order? Here are five factors you must include to make electronically sent promotion and communication of all kinds not only register with your customers but entice them into spending cash at your business:
1. It all starts with signing up subscribers:
You've got the conduit to great communication right there in customers' smartphone, now you need something like a user-friendlybitly url or QR code to make it easy for customers to subscribe. It also helps to have a little perk waiting for them in the deal, like a coupon for subscribing a free side item. Don't skimp on this offering because email addresses have gotten to be closely guarded personal secrets in these days of spam storms. So make it worth their while and then don't drop the ball. Move to the next step of sending a rock solid welcome email to reel in real, live customers and their business.
2. Respond with a well-honed 'Welcome' email:
Deliver this key letter quickly and give customers plenty of reasons to be glad they put themselves on your list. Personalize the letter, perhaps based on the sign-up offer, tell them what the brand's about and what it offers, as well as when and where. Even connect the new subscriber to the brand's social media and web sites to show them they are already in your chain's family "fold."
3. Make it pretty. Make it clear:
You must optimize these emails for the mobile user's ease and that involves specific attention to four elements of the letter, beginning with its design. Make sure the design works on a mobile screen with its recurring problems of glare, clarity and even often "tinny-sounding" audio. Major platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact typically have paid attention to these elements, but pay particular heed to font size and color, as well as considering how the communication comes across in both horizontal and vertical formats.
Also critical to the design is the subject line. Research indicates that open rates hover around 21 percent for all emails, but those with no more than six to 10 words tend to do best. Short and sweet also applies to successful content length, with the standard guidelines calling for content that fits on no more than two screens and takes no more than three seconds to take in overall.
Finally, make sure the content contains images and text, with all images optimized for the best size and dimensions for mobile devices. Size images in the five- to six-kilobyte range and include only clickable links. Again here, make sure you get customers to follow you on social media and you can do this through your design, as well.
4. Move those mobile-users to action:
Figures from Nielsen indicate that customers searching for products via mobile device are far more likely to visit a store and make a purchase than those seeking the products by other means. That means email communication must be made with some understanding of how people search for information via mobile device.
5. Know your numbers to know success:
Astute restaurateurs who want to make a dent in sales through mobile communication take note of this and track essential data, like which devices the emails are opening on, how often they're being opened and clicked, and where those recipients are geographically when they open a message. Operators who go a step further and also use Google Analytics quickly begin to learn which strategies work and how well.
Granted this is all a lot of work, added to the mountain of work restaurateurs already do, but executing mobile communication and promotion with your customers and potential customers is no longer just a nice-to-have option. It is, in this mobile world, a critical need. If done in a well-informed way, the benefits can be substantial, just as can be the pitfalls for those who either ignore the trend or launch into it without first getting solid information and building a plan that includes all the essentials.
Seshu Madabushi / A serial entrepreneur with a focus on restaurant marketing, working on the latest venture mKonnekt. mKonnekt is a platform that mines customer data to create personalized and unique dining experiences.