These days, we’ve become conditioned to believe a social media presence is all that’s necessary to succeed in our industry. Boris Bugarski, CEO and president of ShoutAmp, Inc., an emarketing company with services such as local email marketing, local business listings, online advertising, surveys and research, website development, paid search, social media and SEO that has been around for over a decade, challenges that assertion. He would argue that email marketing is every bit as important as social media marketing, if not more so.
In Boris’ opinion, email puts you in sight and keeps you on your guests’ minds regularly. It also serves as the easiest way to build a list of your customers, all of whom receive your marketing voluntarily. Email is the simplest bit of persona information to obtain from guests. In fact, according to Boris, 60% of guests will give a business their email address whether or not they actually like that particular company or venue; they won’t give you their phone numbers or social media pages but are willing to share email. Email has the highest ROI of all local store marketing tactics and businesses that integrate email into their marketing processes stand to gain double to triple the fans on social media within just 2 months, according to Boris. Simply put, email fuels everything from social media to putting actual guests into your seats.
Of course, business owners have a big decision to make when it comes to email marketing: DIY or outsourced. Those who have the time may want to go the way of self-service as it keeps costs down and they have control over aspect of the process. For those who don’t feel they have the time to commit to fully develop an email marketing campaign, finding a full-service marketing company is the best option. While expensive, these services do everything, offering programs that are fully managed and realized in-house with very little time spent on the campaign by owners or operators.
Choosing how to handle your email marketing program means nothing if you aren’t doing one thing: capturing email addresses. Your staff is an integral part of getting email addresses from your guests. You’ve likely already made a habit of discussing sales goals with your staff during pre-shift and weekly or bi-weekly meetings (we hope!), so go a step further and add email capture goals. Without a staff buy-in, you’re not going to build a successful program. As Boris says, “Vague leadership yields vague results,” so share with your staff why they should help the business by getting their guests’ email addresses. They need to understand why it’s important to the company and, ultimately, how it benefits them. Simply stated, more email addresses means more guests through the doors and more tips to be earned. Add email address goals to sales goals and teach your staff how to ask guests for their email addresses. Hold your staff accountable for these goals just as you would sales goals and implement a reward system. Boris has found that the best performing incentives are monetary: – cash, gift cards or prizes.
Now that you’re building a database of email addresses, scream and shout your value proposition to your targets, bearing in mind that each of your marketing channels needs to have a separate and unique value. People don’t have any desire to engage in multiple channels (email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) if the content on each is the exact same. Boris recommends the following for building up content which will be used for email and social media: spend a week in your venue and take 150 pictures, use the photos for email and social media pages and repurpose them for 90 days. After those roughly three months are up, take another 150 pictures. It’s crucial to avoid boring your email database, fans and followers, so be creative, keep the content flowing and cross promote. As Boris says, “If you bore your audience, they’re never coming back.”
For those who choose to run their email marketing campaign themselves, Boris offers several tips for achieving a high open rate. First, keep the “from” line short so your targets know who’s emailing them. Also, avoid the words “sales,” “marketing,” “offers,” and “reply,” in the from line. Not only do people tend to skip over these emails, many email services (Gmail, Yahoo) filter these out, meaning they end up in spam folders. As far as the “subject” line is concerned, be relevant, keep it under 45 characters and 3 to 4 words and skip the punctuation. For the body of the email, design should be second to your message and your message should be clear and very specific. Shorter is, again, better, and higher click-through rates are achieved by placing text to the right of images.
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