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7 Suggestions for Successful Restaurant Direct Mail Campaigns

7 Suggestions for Successful Restaurant Direct Mail Campaigns

If you think direct mail is an outdated way to attract customers to your restaurant, think again. A 2021 study by the US Postal Service found that 60% of millennials believe the information in direct mail is more useful to them than email, with 80% looking forward to seeing what they receive each day.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how owners like yours can get started with restaurant direct mail campaigns. You’ll hear from restaurant marketing experts who know all about direct mail campaigns. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

 

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What is direct mail?

  • Direct mail is any form of printed material that you can design and deliver to your people who might like to dine at your restaurant
  • For a restaurant, this might include flyers, pamphlets, postcards and refrigerator magnets 
  • Some estimates suggest direct mail campaigns can achieve open rates as high as 90% compared to 23% open rates for emails

 

Why should restaurants use direct mail?

Audiences that have become immune to click-bait links are more likely to trust direct mail, said Ed Kohler, president of Jet Mail. “Plus, the message is right there with print. With a tangible mail piece, consumers don’t have to click and scroll through dozens of website pages to find what they’re looking for.”

 

What are the best times for restaurants to use direct mail? 

Still, knowing when to do a restaurant direct mail campaign is important. Stephanie Tay is the founder of StarGFX, a marketing agency that handles design, print and direct mailers for many restaurant businesses. 

“Specials, special events or holiday menus do really well,” said Tay. “If it’s a one-off event or special, we target a larger audience with one promotion. If it’s something along the lines of a new location or ongoing event, like a Thursday night wine dinner, we typically target a smaller audience and create multiple designs to send at various times.”

Here are some other great times to send restaurant direct mail campaigns.

For your grand opening

Direct mailers are a must ahead of any restaurant grand opening. When a local community hasn’t heard of your restaurant before, you need to get the word out to as many potential guests as possible. If you have a limited budget, you can save costs by going door-to-door and leaving mailers in people’s mailboxes rather than sending them out via the post office.

People love checking out new restaurants and you can pair your opening announcement with lots of different grand opening offers, such as 2-for-1 deals, drink specials or local discounts. 

Before customer birthdays

If a customer is registered in your system, birthdays are always a great time to send out direct mail, said Brittany Mendez, CMO of Florida Panhandle, which provides information about restaurants, attractions and vacation rentals in the Florida region. “This makes the customer feel appreciated by the restaurant, and they feel acknowledged.”

Before annual vacations

Big holidays are also a great time to send out restaurant direct mail promo campaigns, according to Mendez. Holidays are when people spend time with family, and they often cook together. If they have a special deal or reason to not cook for a night, then they will gladly use a promo campaign as an excuse.”

For deals and promotions

When it comes to promotional campaigns, any time is a good time. There’s no need to overdo it. “Something as small as adding a free drink for a limited time or specific day would do the trick of creating urgency and grabbing attention,” said Mendel Cohen, CEO of Krafted Digital, a Miami-based digital agency.

A mailroom with two rows of yellow mailboxes attached to the wall with a large number 52 in neon lights above them.

 

7 suggestions for successful restaurant direct mail campaigns

So that’s the why and when. Let’s turn to the how. Here is what you can do to ensure your next restaurant direct mail campaign is a hit. 

1. Work with marketers

A do-it-yourself approach is probably best avoided, especially if you’re already too busy to work on every aspect of a restaurant direct mail campaign. “You have many options when it comes to third-party vendors that specialize in creating these campaigns, and they will handle all the logistics, from the design to sending the actual mail,” said Cohen.

You can ship these jobs out to different vendors. But some marketing fulfillment partners will also provide all-in-one services such as printing and direct mail. Kohler recommends this option. “Be sure to consolidate these services with a single vendor rather than working with a print shop and a mail house. This will reduce costs and expedite delivery times,” he said.

2. Build your mailing list

Your mailing list is everything. You can obtain info from your customers already dining at your restaurant. If that’s not possible, Tay suggests restaurants find a reputable mail house that can provide you with a list of your ideal customers. 

Direct mail campaigns can also be easily targeted via zip codes, meaning anyone within a five-mile radius could be a potential diner. “Another target audience could be found on any social media channels you might have,” said Brittany Mendez of Florida Panhandle. “Although you can find a target audience digitally, that doesn’t mean that you have to use digital techniques for a campaign.”

3. Pay attention to design

Less is more when it comes to the contents of your direct mailers. Resist the temptation to fit too much information on one mailer. “Create some incentive to visit the restaurant or the website,” said Tay. “Use large clean fonts, and always keep your brand consistent. Go with a larger quantity when it comes to printing. You will save on printing costs, and you can always mail them more than once, hand them out or leave them with a customer’s check.”

Marketing consultant Gab Small recommends restaurants stick to a concise, colorful design that features pictures of the food, drinks and ambience. If you are including a special offer, include a perforated card on the mailer that recipients can simply tear off and bring to the restaurant to redeem the offer.”

Here are some more quick tips for great mailer designs:

  • Add QR codes that link to your website
  • Incorporate colors and pictures
  • Use large text that is easy to read
  • Include an offer with an expiration date
  • Include your contact information 
  • Avoid including too much text
  • Avoid generic addressing info

4. Personalize the mailers

Simply adding a recipient’s name to a direct mail piece can increase response rates by 135%. Consumers have become immune to generic advertising, and “spray and pray” direct mail campaigns go straight from the mailbox to the trash can, said Kohler. 

“Successful direct mail marketing campaigns are personalized and hyper-targeted,” he said. “Names can be personalized, but nearly every component of your mail piece—including messages, offers, logos, images, URLs and QR code—can be personalized too,” said Kohler.

5. Prepare your website

Yes, restaurant direct mail is all about reaching people offline. But you need to get your website ready, especially if you plan to direct people there via a QR code or link on your mail.

“Your keywords and search terms need to be spot on, and all your information needs to be complete and correct with sites like Google and Yelp,” said Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. “You need appealing images and great menu descriptions. When prospective customers receive direct mail, odds are good the first thing they’ll do is check you out online.”

6. Post your restaurant direct mail

While it’s possible for restaurants to execute direct mail themselves working through the postal service, direct mail agencies can help you focus on your day job while saving you costs on print production and customization across multiple formats.

7. Track the results

“Whether it’s an online code for a carryout order or a physical coupon, make sure you collect data about the number of people who responded,” said Labunski. “Assess the cost of your campaign, both the money you spend on the mailers and also the cost of a discount or free item offered. Factor in things like average check size for people who respond and you’ll begin to get an idea of whether or not your ROI was worth it.”

While much of marketing has been digitized, restaurants shouldn’t underestimate the power of a local direct mail campaign to drive business. People see hundreds of digital advertisements every day. In the average household, people don’t throw away mail for 17 days. This creates the invaluable opportunity to gain extra impressions with your target audience at no extra cost.

 

Use technology to keep guests coming back

With Lightspeed’s restaurant POS and management system, you can offer tableside ordering, start a loyalty program and view reports to see what’s working and what needs updating. Chat with one of our restaurant experts to see how technology can help you streamline your operations and make more informed decisions. 

 

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