- You’re wasting a great opportunity if you don’t offer your website visitors an opt-in button to share their email addresses.
- Install an automated follow-up system on your email program so that anyone who opts in gets an immediate response.
Compiled email addresses are rocket fuel for growing your pizzeria business! Those little digital inscriptions aren’t just code to send information about the source of your livelihood through fiber-optic cable around the world. They’re actually the online reflections of your flesh-and-blood customers and potential customers. You’d never take a patron in your dining room or on the receiving end of a pizza delivery for granted. So my advice, as a former pizzeria operator turned marketing consultant, is to start taking full advantage of the power of email to better reach both your admirers and your critics and expand your marketing reach.
Here are the five major mistakes that prevent many pizza entrepreneurs from turning turn those tiny numbers, letters and @s into big-paying, smiling customers:
1. Not collecting emails on your web site. At a typical pizzeria, 50% of income is generated by delivery sales. If you have online ordering, you’re likely to capture 20% of your customers’ emails automatically through that transaction. What about the other 30% of your delivery customers who come to your web site to browse the menu, check out your specials and write down your phone number? You’re wasting a great opportunity if you don’t offer them an opt-in button to share their email address. How do you persuade them to give you that info? The enticement can be as straightforward as a weekly drawing to win a free pizza by clicking on a box and entering their name and email address. That’s a great way to capture emails for website visitors who otherwise would have walked in or called and never shared the information. Sure, you might get a phone number or two, but nowadays the telephone is not a very effective way to market. You’re not going to call people on the phone and tell them about your specials.
2. Not sending out response or reach-out emails once you do capture the addresses. Imagine yourself as the customer who gets a return email only two or three months after he or she first shared that precious information with you. You didn’t mean to be rude. You just forgot to send it, or you didn’t know what to say. By the time that once-interested but busy prospective customer gets your email, she has forgotten what she signed up for. Or perhaps your email ends up going to spam or the person has opted out in the interim. All of these options lead to a bad taste in the customer’s mouth – or even a lost customer. The simple fix is to install an automated follow-up system on your email marketing program so that anyone who opts in on your website and leaves an email address gets an immediate response.
3. Not formatting your emails—or your website—for mobile. With smartphone-wielding millennials and Generation Z customers driving your business, it’s a simple fact that 90% of those pizza-power demos will check email on their phone first. I might not be one of them myself, but I’m pretty plugged in to do my job. If I check an email on my phone and I can’t read it because it’s not formatted for mobile, I immediately hit delete. People who depend on their phones for information are not taking the time to go to their laptops or desktops to read. What’s your best move? Have your service provider send you a test message before you send out a mass email. Take a close look at it on your mobile device. Is it easy to read? Is the overall message easily digested on the smaller screen and formatted to look good when framed on a 2” x 4” vertical and horizontal platform?
4. Using a template. I say make your emails personal and—sometimes at least—ditch the formatted variety so you can communicate one person to another. Remember that emails, however modern, are basically a note from you to one specific person. Just because you’re sending out 500 emails at a time doesn’t mean that individual customer or prospective customer won’t be impressed by seeing a personal email from you in their own private box. With that in mind, write your emails like you’re writing a personal note. Learn how to use those cute little emojis. Keep your sentences short with spaces between paragraphs, and keep your paragraphs concise as well. If you’re really feeling daring, discard the template option altogether and use plain text. I guarantee it will be just as effective in getting the response you’re after. Just make sure your hyperlinks don’t break, and be reassured that your plain-text emails will stand out from the competition and show your customers you’ve put the personal time in to reach out.
5. Lacking consistency with your email processes. When customers opt into your list and share their email addresses with you, make sure you respond quickly with an explanation of what they can expect next from you. For example, I might let an opt-in participant know that I send emails every Tuesday. “This is Bruce, and you can expect this course of emails over the next few months. We give away two free pizzas every Monday, and we’ll announce the winners in your Tuesday email.” If you let people on your email list know ahead of time when they can expect emails from you, your “open” rate will improve and your “unsubscribe” rate will go down. Sending emails inconsistently is a sure recipe for having potential customers unsubscribe and disappear into the competitive fog.
Bruce Irving is the marketing visionary behind SmartPizzaMarketing.com and host of the Smart Pizza Marketing podcast. This article previously appeared on the PMQ website in October 2016.