As we’ve talked about in previous posts, times are rough for restaurants. With all states leveling various restrictions against bars & restaurants, revenue is down & many tables are empty. This has forced many businesses to get creative about how to keep connecting with customers—& keep their doors open.
As a result, the tools of digital marketing has become increasingly vital for bringing in more carryout orders, relaying new offers & making sure menus are widely available.
Email marketing is one of those tools. It allows restaurants & other businesses to contact 100s of leads or customers automatically, keep your brand in the forefront of their minds, remind them to purchase items left in shopping carts & build relationships with people who will buy more.
Like this music store in Chicago that creates more personalized transactions with customers seeking new music gear, email marketing saves time, money & gets you more transactions than managing your contacts on your own.
It works for music stores. It works for nonprofits. It works for ecommerce. And it works for restaurants.
In fact, for Tony Marciante, owner of Chef Tony’s of Bethesda, Maryland, it changed the course of his business.
How “Chef Tony” Made $7000 in 1 Night, From 1 Email
The Snowstorm That Changed Everything
When Chef Tony’s opened in 2007, Marciante had numerous challenges to overcome. He knew that people in his area were going out to eat less often.
Not only did he have to find a way to incentivize them to eat at his restaurant, but he also had to make sure that when they did, their visit was memorable enough to bring them back.
Most critically, he knew that as an unknown restaurant, it would be hard for his business to break in & make its name known. On top of that, he had to make it all happen with a shoestring marketing budget.
That was why Marciante turned to email automation as a way to gain a competitive edge.
He started using ActiveCampaign, the same software Cirius Marketing has used for clients, to manage & reach out to his leads & customers. However, he still failed to quite get the community presence that he’d hoped for.
Until one snowy Saturday night when everything changed.
Saturday night is prime time for restaurants—one bad Saturday night can shatter their profits for the week & perhaps even the month.
This snowstorm was bad—Marciante’s employees were even ready to cash it in for the night, telling them that it was not safe & no one in their right mind was going to come in & eat.
So as a hail Mary move to salvage the evening, Marciante fired off an email to his list advertising a special for dinner for 2 at $39, for that night only.
Within minutes, the results started rolling in. Customers called to let them know they were coming to eat & braved the snow storm to take advantage of the deal. Within the hour, the place was packed, & by the end of the night, Chef Tony’s had ranked in a grand total of $7,000.
What should have been the worst night of the week turned into the best night in the business’s history.
Building The Perfect Automation Strategy
The success of the dinner for 2 promotion quickly made Marciante realize that he needed to do more to connect with his email contacts.
If one email on a night of bad weather could bring in $1000s, imagine what could happen with more unique offers being sent out multiple times a week?
It was the status & relationship builder Chef Tony’s had been looking for.
Marciante’s first strategy was to offer a digital cookbook on his website as a lead magnet to encourage visitors to subscribe to his list. That alone is an enticing offer, but he went above & beyond by offering a $10 gift card as well.
As a finishing touch, after customers subscribe, the Thank You page has a special message from Chef Tony thanking them for signing up.
The coupon code is then delivered in a welcome email. Later, subscribers get the chance to review their experience at the restaurant after going to use their discount.
But that isn’t even all. Marciante’s subscribers also get birthday discounts, discounts on special occasions such as Veteran’s Day & new updates to the menu.
On top of that, subscribers to his mailing list receive access to special deals that aren’t on the regular menu. This creates an appeal to exclusivity, giving them the feeling of belonging to a special group with perks just for them.
What Can We Learn From Restaurant Email Marketing?
Think that email marketing is irrelevant to your business because you don’t own a restaurant? Think again. Email automations have applications for your business no matter what it is, & there’s a lot for business owners to learn from Chef Tony’s experience.
For one thing, Marciante correctly recognized that connecting with customers inside his restaurant wasn’t enough. He had to continue interacting with them outside the business to make sure that they would be coming back to eat.
Think about it this way: if you went out on a date with someone & got their phone number, would you just stuff it in your pocket & not call or text them?
I don’t have to do that. I’ll just wait until our next date to talk to them.
Obviously, if you don’t call or text, there won’t be a next date. But if you aren’t marketing to your customers when they aren’t visiting your business, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
For another, Marciante did a great job of creating meaningful offers that created excitement & made customers feel special. He could have offered the digital cookbook & successfully brought in new customers.
But instead, he over delivered with not only a gift card, but also a personal thank you video. He created a personal connection with subscribers that allowed them to experience a deeper bond with his brand.
Marciante’s restaurant email marketing funnel is a perfect illustration of The Customer Value Journey, our patented formula for taking strangers to your brand & transforming them into total evangelists for it.
He offers great incentives to get people to subscribe, a gift card to help them convert & special deals & promotions to keep bringing them back.
The Customer Value Journey’s steps work for all businesses, no matter what products or services they promote.
And they can work for you.
But don’t take our word for it. Download our free Customer Value Journey Workbook to learn more about the Customer Value Journey, see specifically how it works & start putting the system to work for your company.