A while back, I wrote a post on Marketing Pilgrim about online marketing in India. That very same day, and through no conscious decision, I decided to eat at Tarka, my local Indian restaurant. While sitting at the table enjoying naan and chicken kabobs I noticed a card on my table that said
Join our email list and get 10% off your next visit. Use our free wifi to sign up now!
To be fair, I wasn’t overly surprised to see this as Tarka is the only non-chain restaurant I know of with their own iPhone app; however, I was encouraged to see evidence that this small restaurant is engaging their patrons through email marketing and apparently they’re not alone.
A recent article in the Vancouver Sun showcases the tale of restaurant Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, owned by Vancouverite Michael Sangregorio, and his efforts to spread the word before and after his grand opening. He attributes his email marketing campaigns to helping his business climb into top 10 restaurant listings in Vancouver.
According to the article, Michael’s efforts started even before the doors were open. “Every day people were coming by to ask about us, so we told them to sign up for the newsletter. We got 1,000 subscribers.”
Michael was able to leverage the interest of desperate foodies wandering by his restaurant to help raise awareness and give himself a great marketing tool for future specials and promotions.
Local restaurants have a unique ability to be successful with email marketing. Patrons have wandering tastes driven by frequency, special occasions, and the influence of their peers. By providing timely newsletters showcasing new menu items, special deals, and upcoming events, restaurant owners are able to deliver fresh messaging to a receptive audience.
Unlike online retailers who must deal with shop-and-drop customers only interested in one particular product, local restaurants can have a lasting relationship with their customers. Local restaurant owners also have the added advantage of a sense of community identity that their national counterparts will never achieve. All of this makes customers more receptive to receiving email offers and more likely to act on those offers.
In Michael’s case, he used Canadian company Upaknee to deliver and track the success of his email campaigns, but there are many other companies specializing in email list, broadcast, and analytics including Constant Contact, iContact, and Bronto.
Small businesses often find online marketing challenging. Tracking offline conversions through search marketing is difficult enough, but combine that with the schedule of a restaurateur and you start to see why many of these business owners stop with the creation of their website and maybe some reputation management on Yelp. Email marketing offers these busy individuals an easy way to engage patrons and promote their business with timely and targeted offers.