Building Your Email Database

I Could Do That

You dine out. How often have you overheard someone rave about something on their table only to have someone else say, “I could make that.”

The offender might go as far as to comment on the restaurant’s decor or the presentation of each dish. He might even have some thoughts on the music. He’s gracious, but full of free and easy ideas of how things could be better. It’s as if being a restaurateur was the simplest thing in the world to him and he had simply opted out. You casually look over and size up the loudmouth. You can tell he wouldn’t last a day in a commercial kitchen. Luckily his friends came to the same conclusion years ago.

That’s fine. The braggart has other talents.

I Actually Can Do That

You’re an expert. Everyone else at that table would love your opinion. They’re probably not thinking of opening a restaurant, but they entertain friends and always have questions. They often turn to a search engine to find answers. Should I brine or marinade? What wine should I serve with which dish? How do I slice this so it’s most tender? These may seem like simple queries to you, but you can easily deploy your experience and wisdom to address these questions that are ask hundreds of times per day in your market. Although it may seem ho hum to you, you have uncommon knowledge that is extremely valuable to potential diners that you can use to build your email database on your website. When you put say, your 20 Most Surprising Tips On Wine & Food Pairings into a downloadable PDF behind a email sign up registration gate, we call that a magnet.

What's A Magnet?

A magnet is content of a high enough perceived value to a consumer that they are willing (eager even) to exchange contact information for it. It could be downloadable recipes or a pairing guide for wines. It could be a video “how to” tutorial on a particular side dish you are famous for serving. There are probably a dozen or more things locked inside your head you take completely for granted that would be useful to your website visitors.

You may already have a newsletter mailing list in place and that’s great. If you do you’re perhaps pretty happy with the number of emails gathered every month. Dynamic content though will always drive more interest. Hardly anyone takes the teller’s business card at a bank, but if there’s a free cup of pens with the bank’s logo they’ll be gone before lunch. A magnet actively draws people in, captures their attention and converts them to your email marketing list more effectively than a sign up alone. Most importantly, it attracts qualified leads that other tactics such as giveaways and limited time offers can’t match.

What Are You Losing If You Don't Do It

If your monthly site visits are in the 5,000 range, leads captured without a magnet are around 1 to 5 percent of total visitors. A great magnet captures between 10 and 30 percent. That’s about a 500 percent increase in leads.

If you then go on to convert those incremental leads into diners at a rate of 50 percent and you have an average $30 check per person. We can make a conservative estimate that you could generate an additional $1500 - $4500 per month. That will pay for your kid’s college. Simply by publicly sharing the knowledge you take for granted.

Information Is Currency

You’re not giving away your nightly specials. People are there to enjoy themselves, and they fully expect to reach into their pockets at the end of the evening. There are no regrets at the end of a great meal. People are willing to pay for quality, and that is just as true for quality information. They don’t care how a fast food chain makes its burgers, but they would give up at least an email to know how Peter Luger does it.

In the same way a magnet is worth an email address. More than just contact information, it’s a way to connect in a more personal and consistent way with your customers. Your magnet delivers your restaurant’s unique perspective. When you pinpoint certain topics of interest to diners you’re opening a dialogue, the kind of discussion that leads to a purchase consideration.

It’s the same sort of up-sell you expect from your servers. Sometimes the evening specials seem to sell themselves, but most of the time you know who is driving numbers. They are those great servers who don’t recite, but are there at the table opening a dialogue with patrons. They’re excited and knowledgeable and that is what assists most in the diner’s decision. When they’re asked a specific question they can answer it, they don’t skim through notes or reiterate what they’ve already said.

Most Website Visitors Aren't Ready To Commit To A Reservation

In the same way that diners peruse a menu outside restaurants before deciding where they want to have dinner, visitors arrive on your website as window shoppers. They are often still forming an opinion, gathering information from a variety of competitors and assigning value to each source. They’re not ready to make a reservation in that moment.

A magnet will add value to your site and if it doesn’t bring a website visitor into your restaurant that evening, getting them into your email database will give you an opportunity to nurture the relationship. That means the next time they’re looking for a place to spend the evening with friends they’ll have current and tailored information from your mailing list and the added value of your magnet. Think of a great magnet as your restaurant site’s special. It can help capture and convert website visitors into diners. The relationship formed is what makes a single good meal reason to make your restaurant a regular favorite.