Article: “Jump Start Your On-line Marketing With An E-mail Newsletter”

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excerpt:
“Quite frankly, I believe the restaurant industry is “missing the boat” right now by not taking advantage of this inexpensive, yet powerful marketing tool. There are only a handful of quality hospitality resources delivered via e-mail. This fact may be unfortunate for consumers, but it presents an excellent opportunity for the restaurant owner to grab mindshare by implementing an e-mail newsletter program in their marketplace.

One restaurant doing just that is Corner Galley located in Massapequa, NY. In addition to having a presence on the Web, Corner Galley publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled “The Daily Ship’s Log…”

source: “Jump Start Your On-line Marketing With An E-mail Newsletter” by Jaime Oikle (Restaurant Report)

related article:
“10 Tips for Creating an Effective Restaurant Newsletter” (StarChefs.com)

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Tool: Google Alerts

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"What are Google Alerts?

Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms. We currently offer four types of alerts: 'News,' 'Web,' 'News & Web,' and 'Groups.'

link: Google Alerts (FAQ)

It is very difficult to keep up with the news and content being posted to the internet everyday. One of the purposes of this blog is to help restaurants use free internet tools to let the web work for them. 

To stay on top of restaurant news, I receive newsletters from related web sites and publications, but I also receive emails from Google Alerts.

I have Google Alerts set up to search for phrases such as "restaurant service". This is useful for any restaurant professional interested in the latest news about specific topics or that use special keywords.

You can also have it stay alert for your company name so that you are notified when there is anything posted to the web involving your business. As a restaurant owner, you would be able to get notified by email when customers are talking about your restaurant or posts a review about your restaurant. This free service will not find everything all the time, but it is another tool that will help you stay current.

Tool: Restaurant Newsletter/Email Marketing Services

 

excerpt:
"Strong industry growth has increased competitive pressures among restaurants, making it more important than ever to step-up marketing efforts that attract customers and keep them coming back. When asked about the biggest business challenges they face, U.S. restaurant owners cited filling seats during slower days or seasons (50 percent) and building their establishment's brand and reputation (27 percent) as the top two difficulties.

According to the survey, 90 percent of restaurateurs said they maintain a website, and 84 percent said they use email as part of their marketing strategy. In fact, nearly half of those surveyed (45 percent) said email marketing is their most effective marketing tool. Direct mail was a distant second at 18 percent, followed by print advertising at 16 percent."

source: "93% of U.S. Restaurants Anticipate Strong Sales In 2006, According To Constant Contact Survey" (Constant Contact, May 4,2006) (Press Release)

published study: Constant Contact's 2006 Restaurant Survey

 There are some important things to note about this survey:

"The survey was conducted through targeted online distribution to U.S. restaurant owners, who are current customers of Constant Contact, recording results from nearly 300. The majority of respondents are owner/operators of single-location, small business establishments that have been in business for five years or more."

This is significant because the results skew towards favoring email marketing, which is expected when the survey participants are customers of an email marketing company. However that being said, there is valuable information in the research report regarding how restaurants use the internet to gain a competitive edge, strengthen their brand, and increase customer loyalty. The survey results also show the various benefits of using permission-based email marketing.

Another significant aspect of the survey is that the respondents are "owner/operators of single-location, small business establishments that have been in business for five years or more". Being in business for 5 years or more is often a sign of a successful restaurant, and if successful restaurants are using email marketing and utilizing technology to remain competitive, it is probably worth considering for your operations.

The company who surveyed its own customers for this research, Constant Contact, offers a basic plan for $15 a month with a 60 day free trial. There are also free services available on the web which have their limits and conditions (e.g. small advertising included), but may be a good alternative for small restaurants.

Here are some free and low cost alternatives:
SparkLit
Zinester
Constant Contact
GraphicMail
Your Mailing List Provider