Fundamental Tips for Leveraging to Drive Restaurant Sales: Part I

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1 Fundamental Tips for Leveraging to Drive Restaurant Sales: Part I Getting your message to the recipient s inbox is the first step in driving restaurant sales with messages. This article provides advice on overcoming deliverability issues. When you send messages to your loyalty members, your campaigns likely have one primary objective: to drive sales. In order to drive sales on a consistent basis, three critical bases need to be covered: 1) your message should arrive in the member s inbox; 2) when your message arrives, it should render in such a way that the recipient can understand its intent; and 3) the recipient should want to see your message. Today, there are so many factors that are making it more difficult for you to reach your objective. From ensuring that your s reach the inbox to keeping your guests engaged in the program, it is tougher than ever to drive traffic into your restaurants with marketing. In fact, according to a 2010 Radicati Group report cited in a recent emarketer article, i marketers are fighting for attention among an average of 32 incoming messages per day. In this article, we ll review the first two bases, take a look at your from the recipient s point of view, and provide tips on how you can recapture the attention of your audience and compel them to visit and to visit often. In Part II of this series, we will go into detail about methods for ensuring that the recipient wants to see your message and for measuring your success. Getting into the Inbox As a marketer, you ve been thoroughly trained to think outside the box. In terms of marketing, however, the trick is to think about how you can get into the box the inbox, that is. Getting into the inbox begins with deliverability. Copyright Paytronix Systems, Inc All rights reserved.

2 Not all sent s are actually delivered. Delivery rates vary based on a number of factors but typically range from 86% to 93%, according to Marketing Sherpa s Marketing Benchmark Report. s can be bounced, blocked, or sent to a junk folder, thereby failing to reach your member s inbox. Bounced: s bounce if the address is incorrect, the account has been closed, the recipient s mailbox is full, the mail server is down, or the receiving system detects spam or offensive content. Bounces are categorized as hard or soft. Hard bounces mean you are sending to an address that is invalid, closed, or nonexistent. Soft bounces are received when an is sent to an active address but there s a temporary problem with the account, such as the recipient s mailbox being full. Blocked: Blocked s typically occur because an ISP (Internet Service Provider) or server has blocked all s coming from the IP (Internet Protocol) address that sent them. That IP address has been associated with bad practices or has triggered spam filters at the ISP or server level. Sent to Junk Folders: Spam filters send mail to spam or junk folders. These folders are either set up by the server or the program. In some cases, the messages within the junk folder can be sorted or viewed by the recipient. In other cases, these folders are not readily accessible by the recipient. Paytronix employs the services of Return Path ii to help manage its sender score. An service provider s sender score is critical to ensuring that s are delivered. The higher the score, the more likely s are to arrive in a member s inbox, since receivers use the sender score to determine inbox placement. Paytronix maintains a sender score of between 90 and 100 percent. Sender scores are calculated using Return Path s proprietary algorithm that compares our mailing behavior to metrics that are important to ISPs and recipients of . Scores higher than 94 are considered excellent. Here are some tips you can use to improve the deliverability of your 1. Keep your list clean. Remove unsubscribes and hard bounces promptly (something that Paytronix does for its clients). ISPs have begun to measure recipient engagement. For example, Hotmail is paying more attention to how recipients interact with your s. If a member is deleting or not opening your s, Hotmail will enable a pop-up message that will read, Would you like to unsubscribe? If the recipient clicks on yes, he or she will be unsubscribed from your list. If your program is tied to a loyalty program, consider segmenting your list by Last Guest Activity and only sending your general messages to those guests who have been engaged with your brand during the last 6 to 12 months. Paytronix Page 2

3 2. Avoid using spammy content in your subject line. Using teasers, excessive punctuation, ALL CAPS, and certain words could trigger spam filters that will block your . Here are a few examples of spammy words from SpamAssassin: Free, Your Family, Your Bills, Buy/Buying, and As Seen. Other filter triggers include symbols used in place of letters, a subject line starting with a dollar sign, and unnecessary spaces between letters or words. Make sure that your members know that the is from you, and be clear about the message content. Consider using your club or brand name in the subject line. 3. Pay attention to your volume. Sending one large-volume every so often impacts deliverability, since it appears to ISPs to be behavior not unlike a spammer. Instead, send s on a regular basis throughout the month. We have found that many of our clients like to only on the first of each month. This spike in volume can create adverse effects when it comes to deliverability scores. When planning your campaigns, consider spreading large volumes across multiple days by segmenting your list using regions, store groups, or state groups. 4. Be aware of text-to-image ratio. If your is one single image without text, it is likely to be blocked for having too much image and not enough text. Make sure that your s maintain a good balance. We recommend that the majority of your content be text, with supporting images making up the rest of the design. We ll discuss this more in the next section, From the Member s View. From the Member s View From the member s perspective, a few trends are prominently impacting the world. First, subscribers can manage their inbox. After changes made to both Hotmail and Gmail late last year, subscribers now determine how s appear in their inbox. Rather than all s being in chronological order, with the last one in appearing first on the list, subscribers can set inbox preferences to only show s from contacts, social media contacts, or all. Second, images off is typically how s arrive in the recipient s inbox. Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, and several other clients default to rendering This is an example of how an appears in the inbox with images off. Paytronix Page 3

4 s with images off. It s up to the recipient to download the images. Sending image-heavy content without text may make your appear to be spam. Recipients who cannot quickly discern your message could dismiss it and unsubscribe from your list. [As with] any other ad, you have three to five seconds to get their attention, says Kevin Scott of AMR Research. If images are off and you re sending an image-only containing your central offer and a call to action, it s likely that the recipient will not see your important message. iii Third, mobile devices are providing more access than ever to the Internet and Internet-based services. This means that you can now reach a broader audience, including people without home or work computers. According to comscore data, 70 million mobile users accessed through a mobile device in 2010, and more than 50% of them did so on a daily basis. Fourth, recipients may not have their inbox set to receive HTML s. Always send both a textonly version and an HTML version of your message. In each case, make sure that you clearly state your primary message in the first third of the . More Tips for Deliverability 1. Get on your members contact list. When your members add you to their contact list, your s are less likely to be misfiled in the inbox. In the case of Hotmail, your s will be filtered as being from a contact, rather than lumped in with all. 2. Deliver value with each message. Typically, one message will not appeal to your entire list. Segmenting your data allows you to deliver more relevant messages. 3. Consider the mobile reader when designing your . Your main message should be clear, concise, and available in text at the beginning. When guests receive an message from you, they have four options: 1) previewing/opening it; 2) ignoring/deleting it; 3) marking it as spam or junk so that future messages are treated as unwanted nuisances; and 4) unsubscribing from your program. Put yourself in the place of your guests and think about whether you re delivering value to them each time you press send. If not, you need to reassess your activities. Conclusion Getting your message delivered and viewed is the first step in leveraging messages to motivate your members to visit your restaurants and spend more with you. While your message may be urgent in regards to your restaurant s desired lift in sales, the perspective of the recipient should also be considered. Making it easy for the recipient to quickly view and understand your message will help you attain your sales goals and maintain a good relationship with your guests. Paytronix Page 4

5 Read more Loyalty Improvement Series articles on our website: phone: (617) i emarketer, Marketing Metrics Show Slight Dip in Q2 2011, September 12, ii Return Path is a world leader in certification and scoring. It enables subscribers to have a better experience with by helping to reduce their exposure to spam, phishing, and other malicious messages. iii Paytronix Page 5

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