27 July 2021
Direct mail marketing and print advertising can be powerful additions to a comprehensive marketing strategy. Don’t believe it? According to Smallbizgenius, people who receive a piece of direct mail spend 28% more than those who don’t. At St. Gregory, we’ve been helping businesses launch direct mail advertising campaigns and print advertising endeavors for over 30 years. One area where we’ve seen many businesses flounder is with measuring the return on investment of these campaigns. And if you aren’t effectively measuring, you aren’t getting across the finish line! Below we’ll share two ways we’ve successfully helped businesses measure the impact of their direct mail and print advertising campaigns as well as pro tips to help you avoid common pitfalls. Call Tracking with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising Is your business the type that lends itself to phone calls, such as customers calling to make an appointment or reservation? If so, call tracking is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of your direct mail piece, print advertising campaign or magazine ad. The concept of call tracking is simple enough; you use a separate, dedicated phone number in the ad and calls to that number are counted. These calls may even be recorded so that information can be gathered about the callers themselves, such as gender and FAQs, and “conversions” can be counted. (Conversions might be the number of callers that actually make an appointment or reservation after speaking with your business.) Pro tip: Call tracking is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, but it isn’t just a marketing tool. Listening to calls is also a fantastic way to collect customer feedback and monitor employee-customer interactions with the aim of improving your business’ overall customer experience. For more information on improving the customer experience (and why it matters) read Customer Experience: Getting the Customer is Only the First Step. In theory, call tracking sounds great, but how do you implement it? You could do it manually. Get a separate phone number, have your employees count the number of calls and take notes about the outcome of each call. But let’s be real—that sounds like a huge hassle, right? Luckily, there are much more automated call tracking solutions available. For example, one that we’ve used here at St. Gregory is CallRail. CallRail allows you to get multiple phone numbers, so if you were doing a direct mail advertising campaign and a magazine ad you could have two separate tracking numbers. The service also records calls so you can listen to them later and integrates with Google Analytics so that you can compare call data with other conversions and compare your various traffic sources. Pro tip: Call tracking isn’t just for mail and print advertising. You can use call tracking phone numbers in any form of advertising from social media campaigns to television commercials. In fact, CallRail integrates with Facebook and other platforms to make the process as painless as possible. For more information on successfully implementing call tracking in any of your marketing and media campaigns, call St. Gregory today. Landing Pages and UTMs with Direct Mail Marketing and Print Advertising If you plan on using your direct mail or print advertising campaign to drive website traffic, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about the URL that will be in the ad. There are two solid options to consider. Append UTM parameters to an existing page. The easiest tracking option is to simply add UTM parameters to an existing URL. UTM parameters, also known as URL parameters, campaign parameters, and campaign tracking parameters, are pieces of code you add to the end of a URL. This code passes information back to Google Analytics so that you can better categorize and measure the results of your campaigns. Pro tip: If you’re unfamiliar with UTM parameters and how powerful they can be for most marketing campaigns, dive in with Intro to UTM Parameters. Not only are UTM parameters free to use, they’re also fast and easy to deploy. The only issue with UTMs is that they can make a URL very long. A long URL is unsightly, may be difficult to fit on a direct mail or print advertising piece, and may be asking too much of your perspective customers. In other words, no one wants to try to type in a URL that is 50 plus characters long. And even if your customers are willing to do so, the longer the URL is the more likely it is they will make a typo and end up on a 404 “page not found” error page, which is beyond frustrating! The solution is to drop your URL, complete with UTMs, into a link shortener tool, such as Bitly, TinyURL, or Rebrandly. A link shortener simply takes a long URL and cuts it down. It does not strip off your UTM parameters or interfere with tracking. Use a dedicated landing page. What if you have a special offer or price you want to make available only to the people that receive your direct mail piece? Or for some reason can’t (or don’t want to) use UTMs? For example, if you’re using a web tracking service other than Google Analytics, UTMs might not be an option. In that case, you could create a separate landing page on your website specifically for your direct mail marketing or print advertising campaign. Whether you are creating a brand new page with unique copy or simply duplicating an existing page in order to measure direct mail or print campaign traffic, there are a few things you’ll want to do: Make the page is an “orphan” page. When a page is an orphan, that means that no other page on the site links to it. You do not want anyone to be able to get to the page unless they have the URL, which will only be in your direct mail or print advertising piece. Tell Google (and other search engines) not to index the page. Again, you want to ensure that no-one can get to the page unless they have the URL; the purpose of this is to try to keep your data as pure as possible. By telling Google not to index the page, you’re preventing your direct mail or print ad landing page from showing up in organic search results. Test your data tracking service, whether this is Google Analytics or some other application. Make sure you are able to collect visitor data. Ensure the page has a URL that is easy to type. Keep the URL as foolproof as possible. Pro tip: If you are duplicating an existing page, avoid duplicate content issues on your site by adding a canonical tag to the original page. Read more about canonicalization here. By using the methods in this post, you’ll be able to get a much better understanding of just how effective your direct mail and print ad campaigns are. At St. Gregory, we have talented team members that can help you design a new webpage, write effective sales copy, and implement a solid UTM strategy to get the most accurate tracking possible for your direct mail or print advertising campaign all while driving sales or leads. If you’re ready to see how well your campaigns, direct mail or otherwise, are really performing, let’s talk!
07 July 2021
Author: Steve Bleh
Too many food service operators—particularly in casual restaurant formats, and specifically, the more premium casual restaurant concepts—misjudge the multiplier effect of a strong weekday lunch business. Sure, you can simplify the menu and turn over the tables a lot (sometimes) faster, but some operators still argue that even so, there’s not enough return to invest more when the tickets and the margins are often much less. So why should you invest in lunchtime traffic, even if ticket sizes are better later in the day? That reason alone is actually exactly why—because lunchtime guests are also more likely to visit your restaurant in the evening and on weekend … when they’ll spend even more. For guests, lunch is often about convenience. (For operators offering quality food service, that’s too often.) But consider this: When hanging out socially with family or friends, we all want a dining option that’s reliable and predictable. In short: familiar. Lunch guests also are more likely to bring new guests with them. The destination for a midday meal at work is usually the product of a negotiation, meaning it’s likely there’s one or more people in a party for whom your restaurant wasn’t previously in consideration. And because work lunches are social occasions, they’re a popular topic of conversation around the office, with coworkers asking where others are going, where they went, what they ordered and if they’d recommend it. Serving up a pleasant lunch experience also lets you leverage the social psychology of your guests to build your brand: People like to be the first in their network to discover a new experience, whether it’s a restaurant, a band or a joke. Being in the conversation is another step toward more effective restaurant marketing. So, how do you build the lunch business at your restaurant? Here a few common approaches we’ve worked with clients to implement over the years, with QSRs and casual and premium casual restaurants alike. Restaurant loyalty programs The mere mention of loyalty programs—whether you call them rewards clubs or SUBscriptions or what have you—make some operators’ eyes squint. Here’s a secret: Many restaurant guests feel the same way. But you can do better. First, don’t make your guests carry around a ragged old card when they’ve already got a perfectly good mobile device in their pockets. Go digital. Make it shareable, so they can brag to their friends that they’re eating for free (and WHERE). Most important, don’t make it an annuity program. If the reward is the incentive, make it attainable, even if it’s less than a complimentary meal. Offer discounts on sides or select beverages at a lower transaction count to keep guests engaged. Pass-along promotions You want them to talk about their positive lunch experience when they get back to the office, right? Give them something to share, like a certificate for an upgrade on a meal for two that’s valid within the next week or so. Give them something to offer their coworkers to come along next time. Bounce-back promotions Casual formats that serve alcohol have even more options. For example, while lunch for most people is a timed exercise, after-work drinks and appetizers usually are not. An incentive to return the same day with a party of four or more means an additional table, probably bigger ticket, and definitely more margin. It likely will take some experimentation, but a discount on the second appetizer is a great place to start the bidding. Online ordering Lunch guests during the workday are on a timer. They have a finite amount of time to get to your restaurant, appreciate the superior experience you deliver, run that errand and get back to their desks before the bell rings. You can put their mind at ease by taking their orders—and their payment—in advance digitally. By scheduling their meal time instead of their seating time, you not only save their time waiting for food prep, you save your time waiting for that table to turn over. Limited delivery Consider a delivery model that suits your specific menu and margins. Delivery has become an expectation in many segments, particularly following the madness of 2020, but there are strategies for restaurant delivery that can keep the hands of the Silicon Valley app bros out of your pocket. Set minimum order sizes and delivery areas to mimic catering offers, for example. Also consider limiting your delivery menu to those items you’re confident will travel well. Sampling Contact businesses in your area to offer sampler trays of your best catering menu items. Just do your research first. The person whose lunch you really want to pay for is the one who makes the catering decisions, not the guy who answers the phone. Depending on the particular company, that’s usually someone with a title like office manager, business manager or the admin to the CEO. Call first and schedule a day and time that’s best for them. Business card drawings Hey, I never said these would all be new, but you can make more of collecting business cards than a one-time giveaway. Rewarding your lucky winners with the social status of bringing two or three of their friends to your restaurant at lunch is obvious. But also track where those cards are coming from, month over month. If you see a rising number of visits from employees at a certain company, make sure you’re letting the person in charge of their catering orders or their business lunch scheduling know that your menu is the house favorite. The food service industry faces challenges today that most of us have never experienced. Rather than see that as a negative, view it as the best time get creative. Try different combinations and variations of these approaches. Soon, you’ll find the idea that works best not just for your guests, but for your business. Now, go finish your shift.