Having a database is essential for the success of your restaurant
Here is ‘The Clear Guide Light’, a weekly column highlighting the most important actions you can take now to get your communications strategy in place.
We’re taking one step closer to getting back to ‘normality’ and restaurants in some parts of the world will finally be allowed to reopen. Obviously, every restaurateur wants their establishment to be fully booked immediately. And here is where a strong database comes in.
Your database is a guaranteed captive audience. Subscribers have actively chosen to receive updates and as such are more likely to act on your communication. The larger your database, the larger the audience of potential customers who’ll book a table at your restaurant.
Building and nurturing your database is therefore essential. If you’re planning to do restaurant email marketing, it is important to think of how you’re going to grow and update your list on an ongoing basis.
How do you begin building your database?
- Reservations - As a restaurant, your reservation page is considered your lead generation hub. Whether bookings are made on your website or whether this is done through a third-party booking interface (OpenTable etc), it’s important to collect every contact that has opted into receiving your newsletters.
If you are using a third-party booking platform, make sure to email them and ask for your opt-in data. These are those contacts who have booked at your restaurant and are happy to receive your newsletter. You’ll be surprised how many additional email addresses you’ll be able to add to your database.
- Website: You should have a straight forward newsletter sign up button on your homepage. But think about where the sign-up sits on your website and what information sits alongside it – a simple box at the bottom of the page with no details as to what you’ll receive just won’t do the job. Also, under GDPR laws, you have to make sure you get customers to opt in and clearly explain how their data will be used.
Another way to encourage sign ups is to offer an immediate reward – pop up windows for this work best. In addition, it’s important you only ask for email addresses. Asking for full names and birthdates puts potential sign ups off.
- In-house collateral: Bill inserts, business cards, till receipts - all incentivising the sharing of data through rewards or competitions. (i.e. Fill out this form and enter the chance of winning a dinner for two once a month).
- Rewards & loyalty schemes: Even the most basic loyalty card can incorporate and incentivise the sharing of customer data. As data is valuable, respect that and thank your customer for it - an automated initial reward for signing up is a great way to cultivate the relationship from the outset. Intermittent rewards and exclusive offers will also drive sales and re-engage dormant customers.
- Launch: Another example of when collecting email addresses is a must is when you launch your restaurant. People are much more likely to subscribe before you open your restaurant in order to be kept up to date with offers and news.
If you’re hosting events and are involved in brand partnerships, these are a really great opportunity to collect the details of the contacts of the companies you’re partnering with.
However you decide to grow your database, ALWAYS make sure you are GDPR compliant. More information on this in the UK can be found on gov.uk and the Information Commissioners Office websites.
Andrea Klar-Nathan is MD of Clear Communications. With over 15 years of hospitality communications experience; she co-owned her first agency by 2011 which she then sold 7 years later. Her experience includes everything that’s connected to hospitality: Michelin starred restaurants, pop-ups, venues, events, even wine storage solutions. You name it, she’s done it.
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