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Good Email Practices & Implementation

Restaurant Email Marketing

Committing to a long term email marketing campaign is the best way for your restaurant business to derive measurable and tangible results from email promotions. Conducting the email campaign with tact will help derive positive financial results from your online marketing budget. This task naturally requires an investment of resources and time and it is not one to be entered into without professional expertise. Furthermore, thoughtful consideration should be given to the various factors that affect any form of email marketing or promotion.
Email marketing is quite different from the traditional placement of an advertisement featuring your menu or meal discount vouchers in the town newspaper, or even commissioning a Yellow Pages listing. In conventional media, the advertising liability triggered by the ad placement is limited to whether or not the claims that are made in the advertising copy can actually be verified. If the ad copy passes that important truth test, then the advertiser can consider the ad relatively free from further legal pre-qualifications. When email marketing campaigns are analyzed from the standpoint of prevailing legislation, this online form of advertising has two different phases of legality that must be properly satisfied: federal & state laws (not including the self-regulatory standards established by the restaurant industry). If either of these regulatory standards are not fully met, a restaurant could be subject to legal charges and considerable liability.
The customer gives you a business card or fills out a personal contact sheet, visitor's book or similar form, and hands it over. At this point many restaurant business owners and managers would argue that you are perfectly justified in heading over to your computer and typing in that information, including the client's email address in your subscription list. At first glance it might seem wholly acceptable to use the data gleaned from a customer's personal contact form or business card. After all, the business card or contact form should serve as evidence that you had a face to face encounter with the customer in your restaurant venue and that the data was provided by that prospect of their own free will. Unfortunately, that act violates both federal law and restaurant industry standards.

Prevailing law demands that precise and direct pre-approval must be obtained from the client and that approval must be entered into your computer records permanently so that it is present for any review or audit. Restaurant business managers and owners who mistakenly believe that they are not under restriction by these legislative standards must be made aware that the penalties for violations of this legislation can be severe, and include fines of thousands of dollars for each single email sent as well as the likelihood of ending up in prison for an extended period of time.
CAN-SPAM Must Be Honored
The legislation that governs email marketing in the United States is covered under the CAN-SPAM Act. This law determines the precise procedures that all email marketers must follow. CAN-SPAM is an opt-out form of legislation. This law dictates and protects the rights of consumers to be able to make a single request and be immediately deleted from any email newsletter subscription lists. The best practice standards of email marketing call for absolute and direct permission to be garnered from all of your subscribers before the very first email marketing content can be sent to them. Restaurant business managers and owners need to be aware of CAN-SPAM legislation, as violating these laws can open the gateway to severe legal repercussions including penalties of thousands of dollars per each violating email sent and may even lead to years in prison for the offending individual.
Unsubscriber Facilitation
Subscribers who wish to leave your email list must be accommodated with haste and precision. Federal law states very clearly that any attempt to make the unsubscription process difficult or even outright impossible to complete is a violation and is subject to sanctions totaling thousands of dollars and even jail terms. In order to remain on the right side of the law, you must ensure that your unsubscription procedure is easy to access, simple to use, and has the desired effect on the very first demand.
Bouncing Email Control
Any emails that cannot be delivered in a preset series of attempts are returned to the original sender, which in email terminology is called a “bounce.” There are two separate ways that your bounced emails are sent back, and that is known as either a soft or a hard bounce. Both types of bounces demand different action on your part. Soft bounces can generally be directly sent again, but attention must be paid to the particular reason why they bounced in the first place. That information may indicate your need to rectify the situation through some alternative method of communication with the subscriber. If you make the grievous error to resend an email to an address that has already been subject to a hard bounce, your ongoing emails may be treated by many of the major ISPs as if you are an acknowledged spamming organization and you may be subject to blacklisting and non-delivery.
Privacy Policy
If you do not have a currently relevant privacy policy drafted specifically for your restaurant business, you may be subject to severe sanctions under federal law. Your privacy policy must never be copied from a competitor's website, as the necessity exists to draft the content particularly for the specifics of your own business. To avoid legal problems that can be highly convoluted and costly, you should consult your lawyer to have a correct and accurate privacy policy drafted to cover all of your online promotional and marketing activities.
Proper List Segmentation
Segmentation is a function whereby you categorize your email marketing subscription list by a number of specific factors including demographics, behavior, lifestyle and life cycle. Through the analysis of this information you are able to develop specific content that is best suited to each segment on your list. This procedure will help you zero in on your particular patrons and provide the atmosphere, beverages, menus, entertainment, and hours that they are specifically seeking.
Ongoing Content Testing
It is generally considered an error to base the content sent to your email newsletter subscribers on your “hunches” of what they are looking for. To derive a firm scientific and statistical basis for your online marketing strategy it is generally recommended that you engage in A/B testing. This type of testing is the process of sending out small samples of particularly conceived content to specific stratifications on your email marketing subscription list. Through the analysis of the volume and type of replies to each specific sampling, data will be generated for use in fine tuning your overall email marketing strategies.
Obtaining the Prospect's Data
It is extremely important that you reassure all of your prospects that their personal data will be maintained in a totally secure format and that it will never be sold, bartered, traded, or in any way shared with third parties. As your email subscription database continues to grow, you may come to the realization that your segmentation processes can supply results that become more precise over time. The more data you can gather on your patrons, the more you can engage it to help your restaurant business serve your customers' needs.
Analyzing the Prospect's Behavior
An analysis of both open and the click-through metrics will allow you to gain considerable insight on your subscribers' behavior patterns when they receive your periodic email missives. An unfortunate number of subscribers do not bother to open your emails, therefore keeping these individuals on your subscription list is essentially pointless. Other patrons do open and read your email messages but your click-through metrics indicate that they are not taking any action on the email. The fact that these customers are actually reading your emails is clearly significant, therefore they should be kept on the subscription list. Although these subscribers are not sufficiently motivated to engage with your restaurant business online at this time, these are the types of prospects who are most likely to turn to your venue the next time they require a great meal or fine catering services. The most desirable prospects are the patrons who appreciate both reading your email newsletters and clicking through to your web pages. This indicates that they are both responsive and open to learning more about your restaurant. Facilitating these customers' inquiries by providing entertaining and informative content can prove to be a significant benefit to your overall restaurant business success.
Good Email Practices
Email practices to follow include paying close attention to the composition of the subject line, which is the headline of the email message and often the only glimpse the reader has into the content of the email. It is the accurate crafting of the subject line that allows the patron to decide whether or not to open it. The efficiency of your segmentation efforts will be heightened by the creation of multiple landing pages, each featuring content that is varied and targeted. Subsequent A/B testing will supply valuable insight you can use to further hone your email marketing strategy.
Email Metrics
Statistics show that almost 85% of all restaurant owners and managers do not know what their click-through rate is, and over 79% are unaware of their open rates. It is a severe error to remain bereft of critically important email metrics such as open rate and click-through when operating an email marketing campaign. This shortcoming denies the restaurant business owner or manager the ability to comprehend a wide range of factors that can be identified to build the success rate of an online promotional campaign.