For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Creating The Ultimate Customer Experience

With The Right Data




Join Ben Jabbawy (CEO, Privy), Rom Krupp (CEO, MarketingVitals) and restaurant marketing veteran Kristen Colby, (CEO, Eventful Marketer; former marketing strategist for Chili's, Jersey Mike's, Front Burner Restaurants & Twin Peaks) as they share advice to win in all of your digital channels and beyond.

Jamie: Hello everybody, thank you so much for joining us today for “Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience with the Right Data.” I am your host moderator, Jamie Bradley, and I’m a content marketing strategist here at Emma. And before I tell you a little bit more about that and introduce these great people here that you see in front of you, a little bit of housekeeping. We will be sending the recording out early next week. We’ll also send some content that kind of supports today’s main points out to you via email. So if you did register for the Webinar and you’re unable to stay the entire time or you just need to hop off, don’t worry, we got you covered. We will send this your way. Also, your voices will be muted throughout today’s presentation. However, you can type directly into your GoToWebinar chat modal there. We will be scooping up your questions as we go through today.

Also, you can tweet at us @emmaemail if you’d like as well, and we’ll be monitoring that to make sure that nothing gets lost in the shuffle there. So again, I’m really, really excited about today’s presentation. I’ve got some of the smartest people that have had the pleasure of working with, maybe ever, here on the line. So it’s a big treat. So I’m gonna go ahead and just jump in and introduce them today. So first and foremost, if you see her on the far left, we have Kristen Colby starting in the media department at GSD&M, then working with the Chili’s National marketing team at Brinker International. Landing next as the director of marketing at Jersey Mike’s Subs, and then becoming the senior director of marketing for Front Burner Restaurants in Twin Peaks. Needless to say, the last 16 years for Kristen have been fun, diverse, and delicious. In 2016, she created Eventful Marketer doing what she does best, event planning, consulting, brand projects, and nonprofit planning. And it’s safe to say that she’s been there, done that, and we’re incredibly excited to have her voice in the mix today.

Next to her in that lineup is Rom Krupp. Rom is the CEO of, a provider of analytics software for the restaurant industry. For over 20 years, he’s worked with hundreds of restaurant groups to design and implement solutions to their most critical business needs. And he was recently named Big’s [SP] 2015 executive of the year. So we’re very excited to have Rom here with us. And last but certainly not least, we have Ben Jabbawy. Ben is the founder of Privy, an email list growth platform used by 40,000 marketers around the world, including restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe, Bruegger’s Bagels, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, and more. He started Privy after helping his parents market their small businesses having seen firsthand the incredible ROI of emails as compared to other popular distribution channels. So very excited to have these guys here. And, you know, again, we’re gonna talk about customer experience and data. They all come from the restaurant space, which is, you know, a place that really relies on all of these elements working together in concert. But this webinar today is really for everyone and you can learn some great stuff from them.

And just to let you know, I’m Jamie Bradley. I’m a content marketing strategist at Emma. So if you are new and you’re unfamiliar with us, we are a provider of best in class email marketing software and services that help organizations of all sizes get more from their marketing through tailored additions of our platform for businesses, franchises, retailers, restaurants, universities, agencies, and more. We have offices in Nashville, Portland, New York, and Melbourne, Australia, believe it or not. And we are really excited to be here and you can go to my to learn more about us.

So I will stop babbling here and move onto our very first question because I know you guys are eager to get in it. And, you know, we wanted to structure today’s presentation and discussion around all the ways that marketers in general can and should be using the data that they have to make the right decisions when it comes to really cultivating top-notch customer experiences. So we center the talk around, like I mentioned, the restaurant industry because this industry more so than many other seems to be leveraging data to really shape those customer experiences both in person and online in some of the most effective and impressive ways. So it’s always good to learn from the best. Right?

So Rom, specifically his company, Marketing Vitals, is all about servicing all of these valuable data points across multiple channels. And so for you, Rom, you know, how do you see…we’ll start with you. You know, what’s your philosophy on listening to the data versus asking your subscribers for the data that you need, you know, be it, you know, maybe a survey or some other means? What’s kind of your take on, you know, we have all this data at our disposal. How do we actually start to use it and what are the, you know, sort of pros and cons of mining that data for the right insights?

Rom: Yeah, it’s a great question. One of the things we’re seeing today is a revolutionary process. We went from the age of hunting for data into now we have so much data we have to learn how to farm it. So it’s an interesting transition. In the past, we used to rely more on asking customers for information, traditional surveys, signup sheets. You ask them [inaudible 00:05:16], you know, their email address, their phone number, their birthdays, if they’re married, how much they make. What we found is people tend to either not fill in all information or be somewhat deceptive in the information they’re giving out. So instead, you let the data tell you the story of the customer. You start looking at the information they generate to learn more about them. And the more you learn from them, from every transaction they have with you, the more intimate you can communicate to them because you’ve established a relationship.

Unlike a survey or questionnaire where the first time somebody comes to your establishment, you’re asking them all this information, if you try to communicate too intimately on that information, they might be offended. But if they’re coming to establish three, four, five, six times, they’re really telling you a lot about themselves and they won’t feel the same objection if you communicate to them more intimately. And the data tells an incredible story. I mean, if it’s the inclusion of kid’s meal frequently on orders will imply that they have a child or the lack of animal protein might imply that they’re a vegetarian, so learning how to farm all this data and understand who your customer is, what drives them, what makes them your guests, what’s the affinity to the brand, that’s what the data unlocks. And I know you hear a lot of desire to create one-on-one marketing. And we’re working today with groups and achieving that level of marketing.

The ability for the data to start segmenting their customers based on what their trigger is, what will make them come back, back to what I just said, the affinity to the brand? Are they coming because there’s a specific menu item they trust or behavior or they’re coming because they only show up on holidays? Are they’re coming for your happy hour, but they’re not staying over for dinner? So how do we convert this group of people to stick through dinner? So all this data gathering and all this, I call it data farming, not mining, it’s really about trying to figure out who your customers are and how you can commit them in a much more intimate way.

Jamie: I love it. Do you guys have anything else to add to that?

Kristen: No. I mean, Rom did a really nice job.

Jamie: Absolutely. And to that point, I think that’s a great segue into sort of our next plane. Obviously, Emma, we do email marketing. Ben, the tools that you build, you know, are tied, you know, so directly into email platforms like Emma and many others out there. And so, you know, here, we talk a lot about email and specifically how that data that you are farming, not mining, can really shape the experience that you’re delivering to people in inboxes. And we know here there are lots of studies that we’ve seen that the ROI of email in some instances can be more than double that of other digital channels if done in the right ways. So Ben, specifically as our kind of email expert here on the panel, you know, Privy makes tools that really directly link to things like Emma, as I mentioned, and really help your clients…you know, I’d love you to sort of explain how those tools can actually help your clients and people that are using your products and our products learn a lot more about people before you as a brand land in their inbox. So Ben, can you kind of give us some examples I know of restaurants or clients that you’ve worked with who are using the tools at their disposal, using that data on the front-end to really deliver those kind of, you know, knock it out of the park inbox experiences and what that looks like?

Ben: Yeah, happy to. And kind of just picking up on what Rom was saying as well, you know, our platform is focused on capturing leads and driving them, you know, to your restaurants. But we also believe that really the guest experience starts well before the customer even steps inside your restaurant. And these days, you can kind of use a lot of data that you can track online about your visitors to your site to kind of make that feel personal and increase the likelihood of them coming in. So we find that when you create these opportunities that are specific to things like where that customer is located when they’re visiting your site, what drove them to your site in the first place. you know, was it a search for “bagels near me,” or you know, are they on their mobile phone versus desktop, using these things can really have a positive impact on the conversion rate and the likelihood of you drawing that customer in store. One example that comes to mind is a customer of ours called Tupelo Honey. They’ve got, I think, 13 locations in South Carolina and North Carolina and some other states as well. And what they do a really nice job of, and you can actually pull up the screenshot of their dashboard…

Jamie: Sure.

Ben: ...they actually are using Privy to kind of detect what page someone’s looking at, where they’re actually located, and how that person arrived on the site. And then based on certain attributes like those, they’re actually presenting different offers or campaigns focused on first time acquisition that really feel personalized to that customer. And, you know, in the last year or so, this has really helped them skyrocket their Eat Club sign ups, which is a big goal for them, that’s over 100,000 members, which was pretty sweet. You know, we’re seeing a lot of interesting use cases like this. And really what we found is, you know, whether you’re a single location or multi-unit or a national brand, just figuring out how to use data even before you know who someone is, and then leading conversion opportunities into that initial discovery journey before they walk in your store can really have a huge impact on the business.

Jamie: Absolutely. Perfect. So, you know, obviously when we listen to the data, you know, it really not only helps us determine, you know, what we’re going to do with the inbox or what forms we’re gonna put on our site, you know, this, that, or the other, but it can actually shift overall brand identity. I know that that is something when we chatted sort of in the lead up to this presentation or this panel discussion, you know, as we kind of picked your brains to see, you know, who you’re working with, what’s going on out there, you know, as you use that data to shape those online and in-person experiences, I know that Kristen, specifically, sort of representing in our discussion today, truly the brand side, having worked with so many. I mean, I listed them off earlier, but everyone from Chili’s to Jersey Mike’s to Twin Peaks, she’s worked with lots of amazing brands in her career.

So for the brands themselves, you know, Kristen, I’d love to sort of get your perspective because I know that you’re probably representative of most of the attendees that are here on the line today. Can you provide some examples, kind of of times that data really played a key role in shifting the perception of the tactics you were using and really truly shaped the way that you guys interacted not only with your guests but maybe even with your employees?

Kristen: Sure, yeah, I will. I mean, I have kind of two kind of core examples. I would say one from Chili’s back in the old days. This goes back whenever I was at the corporate office, probably between, like, 2005 and 2010. Definitely before I discovered Marketing Vitals, I don’t even think Marketing Vitals was in existence. But we used one of those big companies called Hudson River Group. One of them is on the line. You’re still a great company, but you take too long to get data out. But what we would do a lot of times is to really understand what our marketing efforts were doing and what were we doing to try to have impact with our guests, you know, Chili’s spent a lot of money on trying to understand and farm or mine data whether it was media mix modeling or just true marketing ROI, just not only to validate what we were doing but just to see if it was working or, you know, what could we improve or what did we need to stop doing?

And the challenge with the way that they pulled data is we didn’t get it until three months after our quarter was complete. And so we were already moving forward with, you know, media buys and tactics, and then we’d find out information that, you know, maybe could have helped us make decisions more quickly. And so, you know, a good example of that is, you know, and Chili’s is obviously a very big advertiser with the big eight and casual dining segment. You know, we’d spend millions and millions of dollars on television and other kind of broader tactics all to find out, you know, a couple months later that email marketing and social media and some very targeted print marketing was the most efficient use of our dollars. And so that was always kind of one of those things that, you know, would have been nice to know before.

So they definitely started to shift the way we used media in terms of where did we, you know, move our dollars around throughout the year. And I think, you know, as I was pretty much leaving around 2009, 2010, there was a huge shift in the media mix that they were going through, really shifting dollars more into honestly what I would call like one to one marketing, you know, definitely leveraging social media, digital media you know, online marketing as well as, you know, email marketing. And it was a huge initiative for Chili’s to go from a million email club members to 5 million and 10 million. So that was all happening kind of as I was leaving.

The second example I can give, and this is definitely one where I’ll give Rom, my buddy, some props here. I’m, like, his at-large sales person. I don’t get any credit for it, but you know, I do try to promote him as much as possible because, you know, whenever I first met Rom a few years ago, I really thought he was full of crap whenever he told me what his company could do. And I’ve since just continued to be impressed with them and what they were able to do for Front Burner, and specifically Twin Peaks.  And this was definitely something that opened my eyes to really what can data do for you and how big it can be in terms of decisions that you make for your brand and for your company. Whenever we started to really dive into Marketing Vitals and understand, you know, our fans and who they are and what they do and when they use this and when they don’t, we’d really, for Twin Peaks specifically is what I’m gonna be talking about, we really saw that there was, you know, very core loyal group that came in more frequently than I ever saw any loyal customer at any brand I’ve ever been at. But they were a very small group.

And, you know, 13% to 15% of our…you know, most of our locations, you know, were those core users. But we started to really, once we dove into the data and Rom came in on a weekly basis to help us understand what we were looking at, we really understood that there were some people that I always call the one-and-done customers, or maybe they were a specific holiday or a specific event they were coming in for, and we really used the data to understand, okay, is there a service issue? You know, what are the challenges or hurdles or what are the reasons why these people are not using us, you know, just one more time a quarter or one more time a month? And so the data allowed for us to really drill down into who was their food server, who were their Twin Peaks girl, what week were they coming in, what was going on during that time? And then we were able to kind of overlap the Marketing Vitals data with fishbowl data and then with some of our guest survey data to really drill down and find some interesting nuggets of information that allowed for us to kind of have to ask ourselves some really big, scary brand questions that, you know, as a marketing person you go, “Oh crap.”

Like, we think everything we’ve been doing, we’ve gotta look at everything that we’re training our servers to do. We’re looking at food and beverage and service initiatives and marketing tactics. And, I mean, it was awesome in a lot of ways to really discover some of this information, but it led to a lot of work that needed to be done. And I think that’s a scary thing for a lot of companies, especially in marketing because we just like to make things look really cool and sound cool and go. And so, you know, but it made us to have to kind of take a step back and really evaluate, you know, our brand, our DNA, and everything that we had been doing for so long and reevaluate and do some good research, focus groups and consumer intercepts and really find out what were the root issues. And in some cases, we found food was a big one, you know, being more innovative with our food and having more options and beverage innovation. But then it also went down to service. And so there was a lot of departments that had to kind of get on board and understand what the data was telling us, and have to make some pretty big changes. So hope that answers that question.

Jamie: Yes, absolutely. And that’s phenomenal insight. And actually, it’s so good, and I wanna get back to how data informs shifting messaging and things like that, but we actually had a question or a suggestion from a listener rather. Marketing Vitals, Kristen, you’re doing a very good job. You are number one outbound salesperson here because we actually had someone who wanted a little bit more clarity on what specifically Rom or Kristen, either/or, what specifically you guys are providing with the Marketing Vitals software, just the maybe brief overview of kind of exactly what data points you’re serving up or how that sort of relationship works between Marketing Vitals and a client.

Kristen: Rom, do you want to take the…You go first and then we can always…

Rom: I think that you can take a sip of water. I got it. So thanks for the question and I think it came from Tammy over there on the crowd. So what we do is we connect to all the data points that the restaurant has generated, from transactional data at the PoS to hash credit card data, loyalty programs, email clubs, depending on the technology, even the Mac address of the cell phones that are entering your business. We can connect to surveys. We connect to everything. The key here is unlike most data warehouse technologies that put it all in one place, then you build dashboards, ours is more machine-learning based. So it’s actually looking at data and trying to understand causation and correlation. It’s like having an army of analysts working for you, but it’s software doing it. So it looks at weather changes, seasonality, it looks at historical marketing, and from all that, it starts learning how your customers react to different things.

If you do a billboard, what is it really doing? Is it acquiring new customers or is it increasing frequency of existing customers? Is it shifting your menu mix? If you do email blasts, if you do social media campaigns, all these factors come together in a very easy platform that helps you understand your brand affinity, what’s really happening and how your customers are segmented within that. So you can evaluate the marketing companion. You can evaluate a group of people within the marketing. You can evaluate your whole brand. You can predict where your brand is going. You can schedule future marketing and it will tell you what’s the impact, predict the impact of those marketing. And it’s even smart enough to help you determine where you should be doing tests to get a good representation of your brand. So depending on the seasonality and the time, so the seasonality, the type of marketing, the progressive data it has, it will constantly change the test control environments. At the lowest level, Marketing Vitals can help you optimize your marketing, your menu mix, your price points, and even your employees to become better salespeople.

Jamie: That’s pretty fantastic. I wanna start a restaurant so I can use Marketing Vitals. Thank you so much for clarifying there. Yeah. And I mean, obviously, with that just amazing level of insight. You know, obviously Kristen has sung the praises of Marketing Vitals and it’s absolutely fantastic. So please check it out if you are not already using a service of that nature. But to sort of go back and piggyback on, you know, what Kristen was chatting about earlier, just using that data to actually inform the brand messaging and really ask yourself some hard questions, you know, we know on the email side that content relevancy in an email, you know, simply just showing up in the inbox is not gonna cut it. You’re not just competing with your competitors, you’re competing and cutting through a lot of noise that’s out there.

So if you can serve up relevant content and relevant data to your audiences, you can see numbers as high as, you know, 18 times more revenue coming in depending on the vertical that you’re in some aspects. So it’s a pretty powerful. But, you know, when it really comes to not just serving relevant content, I know something for the restaurant space is that, you know, you guys actually much like retailers and some other B2C business models, you really have to sort of think about the mix of the different types of content. So when it comes to just sort of restaurant marketing, and especially when it comes to serving up email content, which is what we talk about here that’s relevant, what does sort of that typical balance look like between sending out brand awareness and rewards, discounts, coupons, incentives, and what is the role that email really plays in the distribution of these different types of messaging? Because we know that there’s, you know, different flavors of that communication going out there, no pun intended. So what does that kind of look like? What’s your advice to people when they’re trying to figure that out?

Ben: Sure. I can kick that off. And then I’m sure everyone here has a lot of experience with offers as well. So one other things that we’ve seen, obviously, offers is a sensitive topic. You know, if you’ve got an existing loyal customer and you give them an offer, no doubt they’ll probably come in and use it. But what we’ve seen and, just Tammy is listening from Uncle Maddios and the Tupelo folks as well and Bruegger’s and all our user, is that offers are incredible in terms of incentivizing a customer’s first visit. So winning new customer acquisition. Obviously, when they’re in the restaurant, it’s the operations, it’s the food, it’s that experience that hopefully is winning them over. But then, you know, in terms of repeat visits, another fantastic way to use offers is to go to some of your existing customers to leverage the data you have around those customers. So let’s say, you know, your average ticket price or what that customer typically purchases from you. And to think about offers to expand their awareness about some of the other things that you do offer at the restaurant. That’s a great way to kind of take an existing customer who’s, you know, coming in for the same exact thing every time and open them up to some other kind of opportunities to hopefully expand their awareness and loyalty to the brand overall.

Jamie: Yeah, that’s great advice guys. Any other insights there? I know, you know, Kristen, what does that balance look like when you’re working with clients or when you’ve worked on behalf of brands? Do you kind of follow a similar model?

Kristen: Yeah, I mean, I think balance is always the key. I will say it seems like more and more brands that I deal with, especially in the restaurant space, are now trying to figure out a way around discounting and trying to create more everyday value opportunities just because I think…and it depends on the brand. It depends on, you know, kind of what your consumer has in terms of expectations. But I think a lot of restaurant brands…and Chili’s was really bad about this back in 2008, 2009, the battle of 2 for $20, the battle between Applebee’s and Chili’s and Friday’s and it just became almost ridiculous. I remember whenever we were presenting to the board saying, “This is gonna be a one-and-done. This is just a kind of shock to the arm,” and three years later, we’re still saying, “Okay, we promised this is the last time we’re gonna do it.”

The problem was is that that kind of level of discount worked and then it became an expectation of the consumer and so many companies were doing those kinds of deals that it was a very tough drug to get off of. I mean, even to this day, restaurant companies are really having a hard time trying to figure out how to pull back from some of the discounting that they’ve created, you know, this vicious cycle. And so I think before, you know, brands try to go down that path, really understand what your consumers looking for. What does your value look like? Do you already have some, you know, value opportunities on your menu that you can just talk about? And if you don’t, then you do probably need to kind of take a look at what you’re offering.

And I think a lot of times what we discovered, and I’ve worked with other companies, you know, since I’ve been on my own about this, is value doesn’t always have to be at a discounted price. It can be kind of part of the overall experience and the overall package or it can be offering up other experiences and opportunities that are not discount related. So I think brands just have to get a little bit more creative in what they’re offering so they don’t get into the vicious cycle of discounting and balancing that with opportunities and events and special, you know, inside information or insider events or VIP experiences and things like that.

Jamie: Absolutely. And I think to kind of go back, I love the phrase “one-and-done diner.” That’s sort of a recurring theme because it sounds like that’s a pretty common pain point that you’re wanting to always…I mean, one-and-done any kind of customer is probably something that most industries are trying to combat. And so I feel like restaurants really do have a unique challenge of establishing loyalty, encouraging, you know, repeat visitors. And it sounds like also encouraging repeat visitors that see inherent value. So also, you know, another aspect of restaurants would be sort of that franchise model that is a little bit more common, I know, especially for our customers that are also in the restaurant space. We have a lot of franchises that are using our products.

So from your collective unique perspectives, you know, what are the challenges of scaling and maintaining kind of that consistent brand voice in these instances and really tweaking that model based on, you know, let’s say geographic location or how those different location sort of differ? And what have you guys learned from working with clients on behalf of brands that, you know, maybe worked or didn’t work when it came to establishing that value and then really scaling it and making sure that it’s something you can control and it’s consistent across the entire organization?

Kristen: And this case, did you want me to go through some of my franchise experiences?

Jamie: Yeah, I’d love that. Yeah.

Kristen: So, I mean, you know, back even with Chili’s, and Chili’s kind of had at the time about 30%, 35% franchise locations primarily in the, you know, Midwest and Northeast. And I, you know, got a lot of really interesting experience in terms of how to bring them on board, you know, whether it was just television campaign or, again, a special that we wanted to do or what the overall marketing calendar look like. It was all around supporting data, what the research was. And Chili’s was actually very diligent in researching food platforms and creative and doing focus groups. So the data was always very helpful in bringing the franchise community along. And it also taught me a great deal about, you know, what the franchise system was looking for. Ad these were people that invested their own money, their life wealth a lot of times. And so we really had to put ourselves in their shoes versus, “Hey, corporate’s paying my salary. I’m doing fine.” So, you know, we really had to think about it in terms of what their business model looked like and where they were operating. You know, the small group out in Hawaii was dealing with price gouging and all kinds of challenges that people in Texas don’t even have a perspective on.

You know, whenever I moved to Jersey Mike’s, Jersey Mike’s is 98% franchise-owned. Only about 30 to 40 of their locations are owned by corporate and of the 98% that are franchisee owned, it’s mom and pop’s mainly. And so we had like hundreds of franchise partners and getting…I always called it, it was like herding cats. It was really trying to understand every single challenging market challenge, and of course, you know, you’re dealing with 1,300 square feet and sandwiches, and you know, really doing a lot of work and a lot of explaining and coaching and bringing everybody kind of along for the ride versus just shoving information down their throats. Franchisees do not like that. I always say dealing with franchisees is a lot like dealing with my husband. If I can just make them believe that it was their idea all along then I’m doing my job.

But when I moved over to Twin Peaks and I was dealing more intimately with each franchise group because we were smaller, it really started to make sense in terms of, you know, franchise system, you know, and what they’re looking for in the decisions that corporate is making in bringing them along for the ride and talking through data to support the decision. You know, there are certain things that you can definitely argue, you know, creative ideas, you know, maybe even some operations direction, where to put this, where to put that, how long to cook the a steak. But I think at the end of the day, you know, I’ll go back to Marketing Vitals, we were able to show them information based on their locations and say, “Look, this is the data we are seeing based on your sales and the true challenges you’re facing. Not just what you think because you sit at the bar and watch everybody all day long, but really what’s the POS data telling us? What is our email club data? What is our guest analytics data telling us?”

And really sharing that in a way that was palatable and understandable, because a lot of these guys are operators. You know, they’re not finance guys. They’re, you know, not data and analysts. They really need it broken down in a simple way. And I think, you know, we were able to share that information and really show them the why and the how and so what was next, and really try to get their buy-in and also get their opinions first before a lot of execution was done. So it didn’t feel like, “Hey, this is what we’re doing. See you guys later. Hope you’re on board.” But it was really more of a conversation and discussion and then providing those next steps and, again, bringing them along for the ride, not just putting them on the bus and saying, “Here’s where we’re going. Sorry, you have no choice in this matter.”

Now, there are some things that obviously, you know, have to be a little bit more directed. But I think overall, that would be my advice to anybody that’s dealing with a franchise system is, you know, kind of think about it from their shoes. In every organization I’ve been in, there’s corporate versus franchise. And I think the one way you kind of bridge that gap or, you know, calm those waters is make the franchisee feel very important because at the end of the day, they are.

Jamie: Absolutely, that is fantastic advice. And, you know, I think sort of, you know, connecting your wonderful answers sort of with the next question here, you know, making your franchisees feel important is great, but also making obviously these guests, you know, feel important is also vital. Again, kind of going back to email because that is a topic near and dear to my heart, you know, when you can be more relevant, when you can make the, you know, person in the inbox sort of have a great experience, that is always going to take you a little bit further. And one question that we have often from our clients I know is really about not just the content that they’re sending, you know, they might feel like they are listening to the data and they have that part down, but really it’s the timing in general, both on a micro level down to the hour that they send, all the way to, you know…I know for restaurants, there’s a lot of event-based sort of dates and key times on the calendar when things ebb and flow.

So Ben, I know you had some really great thoughts here. What are really sort of some of those when you’re working with a client, these date-based events that kind of reign supreme in your space when it comes to coaching a client on the timing of, you know, how you use all of your digital marketing channels and make sure that those, you know, aren’t just kind of, again, that one-and-done, that you’re not just sending something on a key date and then losing people in those in-between times? So how do you combat that and how do you make sure that the content’s right, everyone feels on board, and that the time is also the right thing too?

Ben: Sure. Sure. So we work with a lot of our brands around holidays and promotions and things like that. You know, take Black Friday as an example. I know it’s kind of in the ecommerce vertical, but you know, on Black Friday, I think every one of us who’s listening here always gets 100 emails and it’s a good reminder of all the different email lists you’re subscribed to. And I think it’s kind of like of all those brands that sent that email, no one wants to be left out on a major holiday. But what we’ve found is that it may be a lot more effective for you and your restaurant brand to think about other more localized events, you know, whether it’s based on the geography or, you know, sports teams, things like that, that can kind of connect with certain segments of your customer base or segments of your list in really targeted ways.

You know, Bruegger’s Bagels comes to mind here. Recently, they ran some awesome geo-targeted and segmented campaigns around Cleveland. So when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championships, they did some really nice geo-targeting for anyone who landed on their site and anyone in their email lists around their Cleveland stores. That was a huge success. They also did something similar around the NHL finals in Pittsburgh. And these are kind of opportunities that, you know, they thought a couple days in advance, maybe an hour or two in advance, and they’re able to kind of be agile and get these out the door using the data around the customers that they have. And by doing so and acting fast, they’re getting in front of their audience in a way that probably the other brands are in the Cleveland area couldn’t pull off. So it may not have been a huge holiday that’s nationally recognized, but that was a nice way for them to kind of lift sales in a targeted region using segmented email marketing.

Jamie: Absolutely. Very cool. So, obviously, we’ve talked about email quite a bit, but you know, there’s a lot going on both online and offline that plays into restaurant marketing. But specifically with digital on the online realm, what are the other channels that you found to be most effective for restaurants to use? And what are kind of the most overlooked and why? And with each of those channels, whether they’re kind of winning or not winning, what are sort of specific data points that marketers, restaurant marketers specifically, should be paying attention to in those channels to help inform their decision making?

Kristen: I can kind of speak a little bit to this. Again, it always depends on the brand. It depends on the industry, and it depends on the market. You know, if you’re in Houston versus, you know, Wichita, Kansas, some of the media mix or some of the, you know, tactics whether it be a focus on social media or, you know, television, radio, those types of things, there’s a lot of, you know, depends. I hate to say the word, but it always depends. But I will say that there’s I think some of the things that people…and marketers have a really bad rep for doing this. You know, you don’t need a whole lot of marketing if your execution and your operations, especially in the restaurant industry, are top notch. And, you know, I talk a lot about this a lot with operators because it’s an unfortunate truth that if everything’s running smooth inside the four walls, then that does a lot more marketing for you than you realize.

And I’ve worked with some incredible brands that have been great examples of that. And then I have worked with a lot of brands that are like, “Hey, we’re doing everything we can. Our operation is great. We’ve got a great team. We’re making great food, and we’re still not seeing, you know, the traffic or, you know, really the sales there.” And then you have to start kind of looking outside your box and saying, “Okay, what is our competitive landscape? Who’s right next door to us? Or what are the issues?” And again, it definitely helps to talk to your guests, whether it is through your Facebook page or look at your Yelp reviews and ask your email club. I mean, a lot of guests and fans like to be asked questions, and they like to engage with you, especially if you wanna know something, even if it’s, “Hey, what did you think of our new food item?” People love that. And so, you know, don’t shy away from wanting to engage your guests and get feedback because nowadays, that is golden. They expect it too, and they’ll do it even if you don’t ask them to, which is a lot of fun.

So, you know, I think you really take a look at what, you know, people are saying and really understand where your guests are. If you have a brand that really focuses on, you know, females and maybe older females, well, the fastest growing group on Facebook is my mother. And so older women, and they’re doing it solely so they can stalk their children in college. But then you’ve got a great opportunity with Pinterest. I mean, Pinterest is still now, I think, over 90% female based. So you’ve got a lot of really amazing social media opportunities that are fairly low cost. I mean, you still have to pay somebody to do all this work and need a little bit of creative and maybe some boosted posts or ads, you know, that you can do to reach more people and share your message. And I would inform everyone to come up with a strategy for those platforms. You can’t just come up with a general social media strategy. You need to really look at each platform and how you’re gonna use it.

But on the other end, if you have a brand like Twin Peaks that, you know, a majority of your audience is, you know, men, you know, there’s other digital channels that are definitely efficient there or sporting events that make sense. And then your message is also different. You know, we would talk about Black Friday, you know, to these guys, but definitely not the same way that Kohl’s or Target talks about Black Friday. So, you know, it’s all in how you kind of craft the message to be relevant and resonate with your target consumer. And again, I’ll go back to, you know, the data, understanding what they’re doing, where they’re doing it, how they’re doing it, what they respond well to, and utilizing all the insight that you have on different platforms to really understand not just click through rates or open rates, but what are they doing once they make those next steps, and how they’re being efficient with that and making sure that you’re responding accordingly.

Jamie: Absolutely. And I know you guys have been amazing and we are kind of running low on time, and I do wanna get to a couple of audience questions. So I wanna skip ahead, though, just really quickly and ask a question directly of Rom and both Ben and it’s the same question but would love your perspectives. You know, we’ve obviously heard, you know, how you guys have helped Kristen or how Marketing Vitals has helped Kristen. We actually have someone on the line, Tammy, who is with Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, who uses both Marketing Vitals and Privy who has heaped praise. She has not asked a question. She was just sharing success stories, which I will read at the end if we have time absolutely. She is a big fan. You’ve obviously helped her considerably in her brand. But, you know, obviously, you guys are doing some very effective things. You know, from a data perspective, obviously both of you serve that up at different points in the process, for your clients. What are sort of the top pain points that you guys are seeing when a client comes to you? What’s sort of the number one problem? And Rom, we’ll start with you because, you know, you’ve been quiet right now, so I wanna direct that at you.

Rom: And it’s hard for me to do.

Jamie: I know.

Rom: I gotta tell you, it’s not natural. Good thing I’m on mute. But no. So the number one thing that I think everybody can share if they’re in restaurants or not is understanding guest frequency, understanding guest affinity. I mean, everybody thinks they have this huge fan base. Customers are so loyal to them and no matter what you do, they’re gonna come. They’re gonna try our specials, they’re gonna do our special events. But I don’t think there’s a lot of clarity beyond, you know, loyalty clubs of how much of that participation really happens. And even with loyalty clubs, some of the top performing loyalty systems out there are only capturing the 20s, the early 30% of guests. So looking at things like additional data points or credit card data and so on, you can get up to the 80%, 90% capture rate, really understand how people perceive your brand.

You know, if you just rely on surveys and communication, you’re not gonna find as much. And that’s why I’m saying, it’s not a mining game because not necessarily have all the data you need. You’re gonna have to learn how to capture more data without tasking your customers to engage more with you. And I think that’s the big shift everybody wants. And I think that’s the shift consumers want. They want the brands to engage them and not them have to engage the brand all the time. Right? How many more questions and how many more cards and how many more apps do I have to have before I’m showing you how loyal I am to your brand when I’m showing up and I’m buying? I’m here. I’ve done my part as a loyal guest. So a lot of people are trying to uncover that information. How does the fan base really look like and what makes them a fan?

Jamie: I think that’s fantastic. And Ben, what do you see when someone’s engaging Privy whether it be a restaurant or not?

Ben: Yeah, great question. So we work with a ton of restaurants, retail, and other verticals as well. And we really sit at the top of the funnel in terms of initial customer acquisition. So one of the things that we’re really seeing is marketers hungry to understand the paths by which new customers are finding them and then tailoring that initial marketing conversation based on the past or other attributes that you can detect about that initial customer visit. Usually, that kind of drives, you know, whether it’s from a Yelp search or, you know, Google search on a phone or wherever it is, it’s usually driving them to your site and that’s kind of the opportunity to leverage all the data that happens before they get there to create what feels like a very personalized experience when they actually do land there. And then, of course, capturing that relationship, driving them in store and tracking all of that.

Jamie: Fantastic. And so now I’m gonna hop in, we’re gonna transition. We actually got a few really good questions from the audience, both at registration and now. And if you’re listening and you have a question, feel free to type that into GoToWebinar. We will be scooping those up and adding those to the list. But just to sort of hop right in here, Aislinn [SP], I hope I’m saying that properly, who is on the line wants to know everyone’s opinions on SMS marketing for restaurants. So what do you think about it? Are you guys doing it? Have you done it and it did or didn’t work? Everyone gets a shot. And we can actually start with you, Kristen, if you’d like.

Kristen: Sure. You know, it’s been a while since I’ve had some clients that were really interested in SMS marketing just because of some of the complications around, you know, consumers and all the different carrier companies and some of the just how it gets done and really what the overall reason for it is and what type of marketing you’re hoping to achieve with that. You know, I will say one of the companies that I did it for was a Hispanic-baced sports restaurant. So their core demographic was, you know, 21 to 44 Hispanic males. Well, a lot of them don’t read emails and a lot of them had their phone on them all the time. And so we did for a couple of years text messaging marketing versus email marketing and it worked really well. The challenge that we kept running into wasn’t content. We knew what kind of content. We talked about sports, we talked about games, we talked about happy hours. So the content was there. It was very easy to execute. The challenge we ran into was the carriers and making sure that messages were delivered and, you know, from Boost Mobile to Ant Mobile to the AT&T, to Verizon, it just was a challenge to really make sure that what we were sending out was being received.

And I will say, I mean Chili’s never really got into it. We’ve looked at it, but it was almost kind of like, “Okay, if we’re gonna focus our efforts around social media and email, we really feel like we needed, you know, SMS or text marketing platforms.” And Twin Peaks was actually the same way. We really felt like, “Well, if we wanted to roll out an app, does that really trump doing text marketing whenever there’s so many kinds of challenges and hurdles along the way that make it kind of difficult to manage on the brand level?” So I know that’s not the best answer, but it’s my experience.

Jamie: No, I think that’s great. And I think the point of, it truly comes back to what you guys said earlier, which is, it’s where your audience is. It’s the profile of your audience and obviously that data will help inform that. So if you think your audience would connect with texting over email, then it’s worth a shot.

Rom: I’m gonna jump in quickly just because please I do have some feedback.

Jamie: Yeah, please do.

Rom: I mean, yes, the Holy Grail that KC touched on it, is having an app and having in the hands of consumers, but I don’t know if that’s a long-term plan anymore. There is so much app fatigue and there’s so much competition for what apps are installed. And. you know, if somebody has an app on their phone and they only visit you once every two, three months, the odds are they’re not gonna interact with the app and it’s probably not gonna make the next cut when they free up some memory. So I will tell you that more than SMS, you need to start looking at beacon technology and how you can leverage apps that already exist on people’s phones like Facebook, Twitter, and so on towards the beacon marketing as opposed to the SMS.

Jamie: That’s perfect. Very good advice. And Ben, do you have anything to add there or…?

Ben: No, I’m all in with Rom on that. I really would encourage you to potentially think twice about building a native app unless your frequency is so high that it makes sense and you’re Starbucks or Dunkin’ or someone like that. The appeal that we’ve seen and we it hear from a lot of clients around SMS is around the open rates, right? I think a lot of us in here are probably email marketers, are very familiar with kind of, I don’t know, 10% to 20% open rates. But SMS, you know, when was the last time you got a text that you didn’t read? Open rates are typically 100%.

Jamie: Sure.

Ben: But I think, you know, it’s been covered already, but definitely it’s got to match your audience. And the worst thing that we’ve seen clients do is open up the marketing channels in kind of, you know, a half-hearted manner without going all in. And you have to do work to get subscribers, whether it’s SMS, an app, or email. So unless you really have a strong strategy around a continuing with that channel or after you grow that base, then, you know, a lot of our marketers haven’t been too successful with that approach.

Jamie: Well, and to that end too, I mean, this is kind of taking it back to basics, but you know, something that we didn’t foundationally kind of touch on earlier, Kate wants to know, you know, how do I build my contact database? So I mean, Ben, that is your domain. So I might kind of direct that at you first, but would love everyone’s thoughts. I mean, obviously, it’s something that we hear Emma talk about frequently. But when you’re approaching a client or working with them, how do you kind of help them get started with that? And is that a common starting point always, or is that the only starting point always when people are coming to Privy?

Ben: Yeah. So we kind of feel new users in two categories. Some are coming to us and they’ve got, you know, hundreds of thousands of subscribers and they want to take it to the millions. Others are really kind of new businesses just starting out with zero. And I think what we recommend in informing your initial strategy, this could go on for an hour or so, is that you look at your site and other customer interaction points and pretend you’re a customer and you really, really wanted to sign up for the brands in that list. How many clicks is it taking you to do so? And what we’ve found is that, you know, most brands who say they wanna grow their list really make it a challenge for the customer to actually register. Like Rom was saying in the beginning, there’s tons of fields in their forms. They’re deeply nested, you know, in the footer of the site. So just kind of reevaluating where you’re leading those signup opportunities into the consumer flow can have a huge impact on accelerating list growth.

Jamie: That’s a great answer. And specifically too…and do you guys have anything to add to that as far as…I know, Kristen, you mentioned earlier that you took…you know, there’s an email list that started at a million and went to 5 million, 10 million. And obviously, that was an initiative for you guys to grow that, any found inherent value there. But sort of just tactically, what were some of the steps that you guys took specifically to see that kind of astronomical growth?

Kristen: Well, I mean I was on a team of a lot of people that were involved in this and I know that there was, I mean, one, finding the right partner to help us, you know, develop a strategy that made sense for the brand at the time. You know, there was combinations of how do we grow the database, you know, from an email club both inside the restaurant, you know, getting our food servers, the front lines to talk about it? What kind of incentive do we offer to make it valuable for people to give up their information? And then, in terms of acquisition, so what other kind of tactics or really a strategy is out there that is more about email acquisition and names that we wanted to go after and, you know, groups or markets that we wanted to go after? And there were a couple of companies I know that we did choose partner with.

Unfortunately, this was all going on within the couple minutes that I was transitioning out. And so, you know, like I said, I was on the front lines of the team for kind of the initial planning but not in terms of the execution. So I would hate to speak too much out of turn because I don’t have a lot of those details, but I know that finding a company was a big…finding a Privy or finding an agency that really understood, you know, how to go about it and what the right, you know, tools are that you need is probably the first and foremost. Unless you have an email, you know, acquisition expert on your team, you know, which a lot of marketing, corporate marketing teams are more jack of all trades versus really focused on one area. So it really helps to have a good guidance system in place to tell you where to go.

Jamie: Perfect. So I think we have time probably for one more question. So I’m gonna find the best one here. And this is actually a really good one from Francis. So in your opinions, what type of campaigns, ads with coupons, celebrity brand ambassadors, which we have not touched on yet, etc. really drive actual traffic from social channels that translate into actual sort of customer interactions in your opinion? Or do you find those things? Do you find that social is a significant consistent driver of, you know, foot traffic in these restaurants?

Kristen: Can you read the question one more time? I’m sorry.

Jamie: Sure. Sure. Francis is asking what type of campaign specifically on social media translates, or I guess to sort of simplify it, translates to actual customers coming into the store? And then I kind of added to that, or do you think that social is a big driver of people actually making it…you know, getting their butts in seats?

Kristen: Again, it goes back to the brand. You know, if you were Subway or if you were, you know, a certain brand that has a demographic that is in the social media space actively or even millennials, you know, I feel like it’s so old to say that word now because now they’re all grown up. But, you know, younger demographics that have done nothing in their life other than live on social media, well, there are certain tactics that definitely you can take in certain platforms. You know, now, Snapchat, which I mean, I feel so old when I say I just can’t stand Snapchat, but there’s ways that companies are doing a great job with it. But whenever you look at certain demographics and what you’re trying to promote whether it’s food or beverage or an event or a special, you know, certain platforms make a lot more sense, you know, for that social media space depending on your target audience.

Facebook has done a really good job of innovating for brands. They’ve also made it very challenging where now it’s a pay-to-play a game. So, you know, there’s good and bad to that. Twitter is great to share news, but not much else. You know, there’s great things about Instagram, but it’s challenging to advertise. There’s great things about Pinterest, but I still struggle to figure out how to use Pinterest on a business level. So there’s things like that you just have to understand. And a lot of times people are like, “Oh, just hire a 22-year-old and they’ll be able to tell you everything you need to know about social.” Well, yeah, maybe, but not really on a strategic level or what makes sense.

And then you worry about what they’re gonna post about you at work. So, you know, it really does boil down, just like anything, with television, radio, billboards, any traditional media, social media is no different. It’s just understanding the platform, where your audience is, and what your messaging is, and then how to best utilize their assets to deliver that. And then the nice thing is they do measure good analytics and provide some interesting results that should tell you real time what’s going on.

Jamie: That is an amazing answer. Rom, Ben, do you have anything to add there before we bid our audience goodbye?

Ben: No. I thought that was great. Honestly, a lot of what we do is coach our marketers on just trying to figure out, and put infrastructure in place to measure whatever they’re testing, because a lot of times, you know, you wanna go test something, whether it’s does social drive sales, or you know, does [inaudible 00:58:36] drive sales and stick around, whatever it is. And you haven’t thought through how you’re gonna measure the effect of that. Obviously, Rom’s company can do a masterful job at that. We’ve got tools that focus on that as well. So, you know, before you just start asking the question, “Does something even work?” I would just encourage you to think about how you’re gonna measure the effect of that channel driving sales for you first before you go out and test it.

Rom: Yeah, and I’ll echo Ben, test control. It’s all about doing a lot of tests in control.

Jamie: Perfect. Well, to round out today, first of all, thank you guys so much. Such wonderful insight that really I think can be helpful to anyone regardless of what you do, whether it’s restaurant marketing or just any old marketing. So thank you so much, each of you. I do wanna end with Tammy’s praise because I think it’s pretty fun. And actually, in my several years doing webinars like this, I have not had someone who’s been this active, actively praising. So Tammy says, “Privy has been very helpful to Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, helps us drive awareness of social media during a grand opening process and allows us to utilize and offer in-track redemption. Now we have brand awareness, social media fans, and offers to drive traffic. We see up to a 68% redemption at some openings through Privy. Those that don’t show up for the offer, we’re still able to contact them afterwards.”

And then she says, goes on, this is a separate comment, “We can set a Privy offer and then launch through social media and then define the way that we target the consumer with that offer.” And then she says, “Sorry, I’m acting like I am on the panel, but I love Marketing Vitals and I love Privy, so I wanna share these stories.” So thank you for sharing those insights, Tammy, but here you go, guys. We’re not, you know, pulling your chain here. Privy and Marketing Vitals have helped tons of people, and obviously Kristen as well. So thank you again so much. You guys have great platforms, great services, and thank you to everyone on the line for sticking around. And you know, if you think of anything, you can email us at and we can direct your question to the right person. But thank you again so much. And yeah, have a great day, everyone.

Kristen: Thank you.

Ready to do your best email marketing?

Request a tour

We use cookies to serve personalized content and targeted advertisements to you, which gives you a better browsing experience and lets us analyze site traffic. Review our cookie information to learn more. You can manage your cookie preferences at any time.