Fishbowl University

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Subject Lines

Subject lines have a direct impact on open rates because it is the main decision-driver to open an email. People are bombarded with emails on a daily basis and the subject line is what they use to determine if they want to read more.

Subject Line Tips:

  • Keep them short and relevant
  • Provide value or reason why this email should be opened
  • Don't reuse subject lines. If you are sending a reminder, rewrite the subject line.

[edit]Avoid Over-Messaging

Sending emails are a great way to communicate with your guests and to get them to come back sooner and more often. However, we have seen the negative effects of sending emails as well, specifically when too many emails are sent. Sending to your guests too often can result in higher unsubscribe rates, lower open rates and lower click-through rates.

Fishbowl recommends sending 2-4 emails a month in addition to triggered mailings (Welcome, Birthday, etc.). This frequency allows you to communicate with your guests effectively, without over-messaging.

[edit]Sign Up Slips

The most common form of list building in restaurants is signup slips. It's an easy an clear way for your customers to opt-in to your list (See Opt-In/Permission). There are many variations of a signup slip, but they all capture email addresses and other customer information. Here are a few examples:

  • Create signup slips that are specifically designed to collect email address and other customer information.
  • Comment Cards: Add a field to your comment card that asks for an email address and state that they are signing up for your email list.
  • Business Cards: Use a fishbowl and a sign that asks customers to signup for your email list.
  • IMPORTANT - Make sure customers know that they will be receiving emails when they leave their business card.

Signup Slips: Make list-building an operational goal of your restaurant(s)

We have seen great success from restaurants who have implemented some of the strategies in our In-Store Training Guide and Server Contest tips below. It will help guide your managers and staff in the right direction to begin, continue, or improve list-building.

[edit]Server Contests

Provide an incentive to your staff for helping build your email list. Give a prize to the server who collects the most signup slips in one month. Keep track of the slips by counting them on a daily or weekly basis. Here's how to hold the contest:

  1. Identify the prize and the criteria for winning. Many restaurants use freebies from beverage companies as the prize. Other prize ideas include gift cards or cash. Give a prize to the top performer, the top two, or what you think will work best. Set a timeframe. One month allows enough time for competition to build between servers and for the number of signup slips to be significant enough to boost the size of your list.
  2. Track the progress. Post the total number of slips collected per server in the back of the house, so that everyone can see who is winning. When the entire staff knows how many signup slips are being collected throughout the contest period, to encourage competition.
  3. Tell your staff that only complete signup slips count. You can review the slips for accuracy and duplicates. If you notice that one server turned in slips that all have the same handwriting, then disqualify that server from the contest. Also, remember that only valid email addresses can be added as a member. If the email address is missing, illegible, or incomplete, the sign-up slip doesn't count. If you don't have time to review all of the slips, then try to do a random spot check when possible.

[edit]In-Store Training Guide for Guest Enrollment

What’s an email loyalty program?

  • It's the proven way to keep your guests excited about you once they’ve left the restaurant - at their home or office, wherever they read their email.
  • It is simply "permission based" email that your guests ask for - not spam. Your guests will not (and may not) be added to your membership database unless they fill out a signup slip in the restaurant or join via your website.

How does it work?

  • Guests sign up in the restaurant and you mail the completed signup slips to Fishbowl once a week in the envelopes provided.
  • Members receive a Welcome email with a gift, giving them a great reason to return.
  • A Birthday email is sent to members a week before the big day….their plans will include your restaurant.
  • On the anniversary of a guest’s membership, another offer is sent….again they’re impressed.
  • About once or twice a month, your members will receive an email with news of new menu items, events, specials, etc., so you’re never far from their minds.

What’s in it for the staff?

  • Increased sales lead to increased tips! It's as simple as that.
  • Ability to communicate restaurant news – new menu items, promotions, etc.
  • Ability to determine how many guests get news that will bring you more business. Do you want to see a message reach 200 of your guests or 3,000? It’s up to you!
  • Keep in touch with your most frequent customers.
  • Drive traffic in slower months and during times that you need it most.
  • See higher check averages than for "non-offer" tables; these are your loyal customers and if they take advantage of an offer/gift, they’re probably spending more on other parts of the meal
  • Improve top-of-mind brand awareness (even if they don’t come to the restaurant that night because of an offer, you’ve made an impression on them, and they might return sooner than they had been planning on).
  • It’s a great way to reward your loyal customers!

How easy is it to build my list?

  • Have a short script available: "Would you like to join our mailing list? You get a gift for joining, a gift for your birthday, great news all year long, and we promise to never rent or sell your information."
  • Give signup slips to your guests at the beginning of the meal (by the host / hostess) or at the end by the server. For best results, place the signup slip on top of the check presenter, or loose inside of it, on top of the check itself.
  • Set attainable goals. Example: Build 1,000 names in 60 days, or get two email addresses per server per shift. It adds up quickly!
  • Just two email addresses collected by each staff member per shift can meet a base goal of 2,000 names in no time.
  • Assign a point in the Steps of Service where somebody will approach the guest about the program. If this is not done, everybody may assume that somebody else will be doing it – or just as bad, everybody will be doing it and causing redundant requests.
  • Post the examples of the emails in the BOH for the staff to see and recognize.
  • Mail your data entry envelopes in weekly, no matter how few or how many slips you have completed. Your guests don’t want to wait to get started in the e-club.

How do I answer my guests’ questions?

Q: "I don’t want to join if you’re going to sell my address and I start getting all kinds of spam."

A: We will never rent or sell your information.

Q: "I don’t want to join if you’re going to drive me crazy with emails every day."

A: You’ll receive no more than two or three emails a month containing updates and special news.

Q: "What if I want to stop getting your emails?"

A: With just one click, you can unsubscribe from the club.

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