Our clients often ask us how often they should send emails to their customers. While there is no magic answer, there are some guidelines. In the “old” days, when restaurants paid a lot of money to do direct mail and print advertising, it was easier to be selective and not advertise too often. But with email being relatively inexpensive, it’s tempting to send your target customers frequent messages. Jay Goltz, a writer with the New York Times, has coined the term “e-nnoyance elasticity.” E-nnoyance elasticity is the number of people who will unsubscribe to your list as you increase the number of emails you send. Obviously we don’t want customers to unsubscribe, so we need to find the happy medium of just the right email frequency.
As a general rule, we suggest emailing your customers once a week. Depending on the information you have to share, you may find it necessary to email more or less than this. If you can answer YES to at least one of the four questions below, then it is probably ok to send the email you are planning:
Is the content or information new? If you email your customers each week with the same subject line – “This Week’s Specials” – you’re going to lose subscribers. People don’t want to see the same thing over and over, and chances are, your specials don’t always change week to week. But if your specials do change, move forward with your email. We have a seafood client that changes its specials weekly and lets its customers know. This builds anticipation and helps customers plan their schedules.
Is there an action that can be taken right away? Consider including an offer that has to be redeemed within 24-48 hours of receiving the email. Make sure you include that the email must be printed and brought in or shown to you on a mobile device in order for the offer to be redeemed.
Are you adding value to your customers’ day? Maybe you can share a chef’s recipe from your kitchen that they can make for dinner that night. Or point them in the direction of the farmers market where you buy local produce.
Do you have something different to offer from your competition? Maybe you’ve just won an award, or you are the first in your area with the latest microbrew. Maybe you are hosting a fundraiser event, a live band. Brag about it to your customers.
Our last tip is to strongly consider using an email marketing tool rather than a desktop email client such as Outlook or Thunderbird. An email marketing tool will track how useful your emails are to your customers, which will help you determine frequency. And if you use eateriaTM, an email tool designed for the restaurant industry, you’ll have more success reaching your clients and tracking who redeems your offers. eateriaTM was designed by restaurant marketing experts at Dining Dialog. Emails sent by the folks at Dining Dialog have an average open rate of 39%, versus an 8% average open rate in the industry.