t’s a familiar feeling—wishing there were 12 more hours in a day. Marketers have a laundry list of ways they want to engage customers, but struggle to put all of the impactful and exciting ideas in play. It's not feasible to be there every time someone closes an online order or abandons the waitlist to connect and entice them back unless...it’s automated.
Automations allow marketers to build set-it-and-forget-it communications that reduce repetitive tasks while still increasing engagement with guests.
So let’s dig in—where should you start to automate outreach?
Step 1 — Take Inventory
Start by looking at what you’re already doing to engage guests. (If you don’t already have a map of your current customer touchpoints and communications, it’s a good idea to begin to document.)
After taking inventory, ask a couple of questions of each touchpoint:
- When a guest does x and we do y: can this be automated but still personalized?
- When a guest does x and we don't do anything currently: could we automate something to engage them?
For example, it’s predictable that guests sitting down in your restaurant will try to login to your guest WiFi and you’ll capture their email address, but what do you do with it? This is an opportunity to set up an automation that connects with guests and adds value to their day. (i.e. “Still daydreaming about brisket & burgers? (Us too.) Bring the barbecue to your backyard with our weeknight meal kits!”)
Step 2 — Build on First Steps
Scale up automations by continuing to target exactly what can and should be automated to drive marketing goals:
- Lifetime Frequency: Enable hyper-personalized comms at-scale based on guest preferences and behavior, timed to increase that customer segment’s frequency
- Customer Retention: Engage customers with a structured cadence of communications and incentives (i.e. proactively gather feedback)
- Brand Loyalty: Market evergreen promotions (i.e. beer club, wine club, family meal kits, annual special dinner series, giving back to the community week) to keep guests engaged and connected to your purpose
- Seasonality: Automate a year-round strategy to build energy around regularly occurring special events and holidays (i.e. gift card promotions during the holiday push and beyond)
- Brand Consistency: Maintain a calendar of brand-wide comms that intentionally make space for local efforts to be pushed too—to ensure brand consistency while allowing for personalization by location
Step 3 — Examine, Improve, Repeat
Finally, while creating your Automation strategy it’s important to build a framework and keep it up to date:
- Regularly scheduled maintenance: Do a monthly check-in with your creative content and the conditions that trigger your automations. Is your most current branding reflected? Are there new initiatives you should promote with some of your predictable touchpoints? Are there new predictable comms that could be converted to automations?
- Maintain your map of customer touchpoints and be strategic about content: Think of automations as a web or eco-system. When adding automations, consider how they might interact, enhance, or detract from other successful automations. Can you put a spin on repurposed content so it makes sense for multiple touchpoints?
- Optimize what works: Test new automations and monitor changes in customer lifetime value, guest frequency, and retention. Watch guest segments, not just overall stats, closely to see if any further personalization in automations is needed
Maybe you already have triggers in place to ping guests on their birthdays and anniversaries and you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s enough, right?” Well……
Automations can jumpstart a system that permanently redistributes your every day work away from predictable communications, and reaches guests in ways you weren’t able to before.
Try going beyond the birthday (or other traditional trigger) automations and see what gifts are on the other side to celebrate.
Photo Credit Nicholas J. Leclercq