Email marketing is a vital component to any food and beverage business’ marketing strategy, but it can also be an extremely valuable and successful marketing channel continuing to build brand advocacy and loyalty as well as increase conversions. Email marketing SHOULD be the “low hanging fruit” of your marketing plan…a low-cost solution with high returns. However, as with any marketing channel, it has to be strategic — planned, executed and refined with purpose.
Abide By CAN-Spam Laws and Ensure Permission
When you create an email marketing campaign and seek to follow industry best practices, an overall goal will always be to stay in compliance with your country’s legal requirements. In the U.S. that is the United States’ CAN-Spam Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act). In addition to avoiding penalties, fines and lawsuits, following anti-spam regulations makes sense from a marketing standpoint as well. After all, readers who see your email marketing as spam (and, what’s worse, report it as such) aren’t doing anything to help your bottom line.
Additionally, make sure you have permission to email your subscribers — those who actively accepted receiving email communications from you/your business. Those who have opted-in are more likely to be brand advocates and are less likely to mark your email as spam. In-store loyalty programs and apps are an effective way to collect email addresses.
Honor all opt-out requests quickly and indefinitely (do not add subscribers back into future promotions once they’ve requested to be off the list). In addition, make it easy for users to unsubscribe to your email marketing.
Segment Your Audience
Once you have a list of subscribers, start to separate them into similar categories. These categories may be based on several factors and could include demographics (gender, age), geographic location, interests and preferences (based on what users selected during email signup), status (current customer vs. new subscriber), and more. However you choose to organize the segments, ensure that your content strategy “speaks” to that individual group on a personal, valuable and relevant level.
Focus On a Single Objective
Keep the email focused on a single purpose or objective — do you want subscribers to purchase a product, make a reservation, learn about a new menu item, take advantage of a special offer or something else? By focusing on the objective, your audience will immediately know exactly what you are asking of them.
Be Transparent and Clear
Being transparent instills trust in your audience, while keeping your emails whitelisted. This includes:
- Ensuring the “from” includes your brand or company name. After all, you want readers to know who’s sending the message, keeping your brand top of mind in your subscribers’ inboxes.
- Adding brand-relevant identifiers in the email. This will likely include your logo placed in the center or upper-left hand side of the email, as well as items like physical address and social media icons within the footer.
Write a Successful Subject Line
Subject lines are perhaps the most important part of your email, as it’s what the consumer uses to determine whether or not they open the email. When developing a subject line, keep these principles in mind.
Your subject line should…
- Be useful and clear to the user and do not be misleading. Misleading may suggest the email is from a personal friend (“Hey! How are you doing?”), continues a previous conversation (“RE:” or “FWD:”) or is related to transactions and accounts (“Your password is expiring!”).
- Denote a sense of urgency, when relevant and true — e.g., “Today is Free Fries-Day”
- Be specific, promoting a unique benefit to the user
- Test using personalization (first name) or emojis
- Follow the K.I.S.S. rule — keep it simple stupid. Make sure your subject line is short enough for mobile legibility and keep it under 50 characters.
- Not use all caps or overuse punctuation!!!!
Keep Copy Short and Simple
When consumers open emails, they often “scan” the email first to determine level of interest… and often via a mobile device. With this in mind, keep the main message and call-to-action short, concise and above the fold, using bullet points where possible.
Calls-To-Action (CTAs) Should be Prominent
Emails should be designed with the core objective in mind, using a bold and prominent CTA to encourage and entice user action.
Always Test For Performance Improvements
Email marketing is a great channel for testing, helping you continuously learn about your subscribers and improve performance while helping to improve email open and click-through rates. When developing your email strategy, be sure to include your testing parameters and what you hope to achieve. Testing can include almost every/all elements of an email, from subject line content and design of the email to CTA color and language and time of day/day of week deployment. Don’t guess about how your audience will respond … choose to validate performance through data.
Establish Frequency and Scheduling
We often are asked…how often should you send emails? Unfortunately, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to email frequency as it depends on the content, the audience segment, the brand and behavioral or environment-based triggers. For example, fine dining restaurants may send just one time per month. However, fast-food and quick-service restaurants may opt to reach out with weekly offers and specials.
So how do you decide on frequency? Short answer—you need to test and then adjust your deployment strategy based on the factors outlined above. For example, if audience segment 1 responds well to receiving emails 2 times per month, but audience segment 2 prefers 1 time per month, adjust your deployment schedule accordingly. Another option would be to give subscribers a choice on frequency when setting up their email communication preferences.
When developing your email marketing strategy, there are a lot of components to consider and strategize. But, overall, focus on the end-user (your subscribers) by respecting their email preferences, keeping the content simple and concise and focusing the call to action on a single, clear ask. Contact Fridge if you need help with the best strategy for you and your company.
Nicole Wetwiski, Director of Digital Marketing