As my clients and followers know, my e-mail madness service is about using e-mail to bring in:
- More Loyal Customers
- More Often
- (especially on the “off” days)
- Boosting the Bottom Line
This month, I'm going to look at Maggie McFly's, a Connecticut restaurant with five locations. Maggie McFly's considers its sweet spot to be the family, but does a lot to make itself relevant to anyone who wants a solid American dining experience. It gets mixed reviews on Yelp with an average three star rating at most of its restaurants, and has been doing a nice job, especially recently, in responding to customer comments. This is always done in the name of Ray Harper, the owner, as it ought to be. It looks to have some very loyal fans. That's always a good place to start. It has obviously attained some level of success.
But we know the restaurant industry often runs on tight margins, and when we can bring our loyal customers around even one more time a month, it can have a nice impact on our bottom line. And I think we can do a lot better than that.
So I signed on to Maggie McFly's e-mail list back in February. I received a confirmation e-mail. I clicked and was confirmed. On the confirmation page, there is a button to manage your preferences. I pressed it. The only preference I could manage was my e-mail address, but I'd just given that. So why take me there? What I expected was to give my name, and probably my birthday, and let Maggie McFly's know how often they can contact me (weekly, monthly, special events).
Now I am going to take a moment here. My job is to make sure you get the most out of your e-mail service. It's actually more than that. I am committed to your marketing dollars being spent where they have the most effect for your business. I happen to think that a restaurant can get a lot of bang for it's marketing buck using e-mail. But what I think and expect really doesn't matter. What matters is what works. This post is titled “What I'd Try… ” It could be that Maggie McFly's has done the testing and market research, and found that a few radio ads and monitoring Yelp, TripAdvisor, and FourSquare are worth a lot more than an e-mail program.
And it could be that in the fast-paced restaurant world, and with its success, Maggie McFly's just hasn't seen the need or taken the opportunity to really plumb the possibilities e-mail marketing presents. I'm going to assume that this is the case.
Now, if Maggie McFly's had taken my name, they could reach out by my name (higher e-mail open rates). With my birth date, they could invite me to celebrate it there. And with an option to add even more information, they'd know that I have a wife and four kids, who each have birthdays. They'd know my anniversary. And with an option for even more information, they might even know my favorite dish or type of cuisine, preference of entertainment, or sport or ball team.
And with that information, they could send me some very nice offers. They could offer a free dessert for my sons' birthdays, a bottle of wine for my anniversary, an invitation to come in with my fellow tennis aficionados and watch Wimbledon (I like this because being five hours off of Britain, a restaurant could draw people in when it is otherwise closed, maybe with a special British breakfast menu).
But Maggie Maggie McFly's didn't do this. Since February 12, I have received twelve e-mails from Maggie McFly's. Two of these were to remind me that one of their locations would be closed for renovations. And while I certainly agree it's good to avoid customer upset, I think a far more effective strategy would include reminding me that the spruced up location would like to celebrate it's renovation with me.
Two were to tell me it's hiring. I'm a marketing professional (and used to practice law). I am not interested in waiting tables or managing a restaurant. Why am I getting this information? Again, this is something that could have been sorted out in my preferences.
That leaves eight e-mails: two for St. Patrick's Day, two for the Cinco de Mayo menu, one for Easter Brunch, one for Mother's day, one to announce a new line of desserts, and one to wish us a Happy May. Unfortunately, there was neither urgency nor a call to action built into any one of them. Things that could have been done include:
- For St. Patrick's day, a special rate for any group of five or more hibernians who order and pay for their traditional Irish celebratory meal ahead of time.
- A preview of the Cinco de Mayo menu on a slow night for people on the special list, at a special price, a few days before the Cinco de Mayo menu official launch, with a special price for south of the border beers. (Be the first to try our new menu).
- A special Cinco de Mayo party on the fifth (it was a Tuesday this year).
- A pre-book for Mother's day or Easter. Order ahead for a special rate or a special bonus (one of those new desserts maybe). Once they've paid, most will show up instead of changing their minds later.
- A special dessert sampler night (again booked on a slow night) to try out the new NoRA line of desserts, or a buy one, get one free on the NoRA line of desserts Monday through Wednesday for the month of June.
But that's just tweaking what was done. Isn't it graduation season? Isn't wedding season upon us? If a restaurant wants to get really pro-active about providing outstanding service, it could offer to send out the invites for the special meals. It could have bachelor party specials. Maggie McFly's has an indoor golf range at one of it's locations. And that could also be marketed to the business crowd. People who play together are more likely to do business together (look up and cite the research in your list segmented to the business crowd). If you are coming in to celebrate your anniversary, a restaurant could even endeavor to recreate the meal you proposed over, or make sure that the happy couple's “song” show up during that evenings playlist.
So these are some of the things I'd try if I were McFly. If you are interested in seeing what I'd look at if I were in your place, just book a consultation.
And if you are not ready for that we'd still be happy to have you on our list to get our biweekly e-mail marketing review: