For many years, Restaurant.com enjoyed growing revenues bolstered by the ‘Batch-and-blast’ email strategy. Readership remained until 2011, when subscriber engagement fell down by as much as 35 percent. Even with the appeal of “certificates”—essentially digital versions of coupons—that can be exchanged for discounts across the restaurants under their system, the company’s generic emails failed in engaging customers.
Time for a Change
Restaurant.com shifted gears with its email campaign, overhauling its program in just 1 year. Instead of going with a “firing and forgetting” strategy, the company employed a sophisticated system that combines both automated and targeted emails.
The new strategy can be broken down into a 6-step process:
- Building internal support – First starting with home, Restaurant.com took measures to gain support from its investors, IT department, and creative team.
- Laying a Foundation – Restaurant.com had to change its database infrastructure to address new goals of their email campaign. Matching customer behaviour and interactions from the channels they came from, for instance, initially proved impossible, calling for a new system to be put in place. Likewise, a new eDM analytics system was set up because of this very reason.
- Rethinking the Marketing Strategy – One of the first things Restaurant.com did was to reduce the frequency of its emails, cutting the previous monthly volume of 22 emails in half. The focus should be on quality, not quantity. For example, A/B testing is a tool that tests the essential factors of email marketing significantly eliminating ‘trial and error’ resulting in emails that are both interactive and effective.
- Lifecycle-based Automated Emails – Restaurant.com. launched a new system of automated emails or “auto-responders” that reach out to customers they predicted were mostly likely make a purchase of certificates—these are subscribers with data showing they already made a purchase.
- Behaviour-specific Emails – Restaurant.com also formulated emails that perform specific actions, such as reminding subscribers of items abandoned in the shopping cart, encouraging them to participate in social media promotions, and more.
- Quality Control – Restaurant.com also made it a point to test every aspect of the campaign thoroughly before launching it. Different campaigns were tested, and each aspect scrutinised before making a database-wide change.
Implementing these solutions provided a higher ROI than using the batch and blast strategy that was previously used. Despite having attractive coupons on their eDM, their method lacked strategy.
Using an A/B testing tool, the user is able to target specific groups and identifies what engages their intended audience more effectively. Changes made by Restaurant.com to its email strategy have been nothing short of stellar. The conversion rate of the new emails over the old generic ones rose by 150 percent. Likewise, the company saw a 900 percent revenue increase for every 1000 emails sent (that’s $200). And both figures are for the automated emails alone.
The benefits when utilizing this type of testing system is the accuracy it is able to deliver making email campaigns more purposeful and less clumsy, eliminating the ‘firing and forgetting’ strategy.
Fortunately Enform Automailer has most of the elements talked about as standard features allowing for targeted, strategic eDM campaigns with effective ROI. Essentially, the main purpose of creating an eDM is to engage and interact which in turn generates results. So why waste the effort?