Fishbowl, Inc. Proves That Timing Is Everything For Effective Email Campaigns

Leverage Holidays to Make the Most Impact with Audiences

Pick any day of the year and you’re sure to land on a holiday, whether it’s traditional or quirky. A recent analysis from Fishbowl, Inc., the leading data, marketing and analytics solution provider uniquely serving restaurants, shows that tying into people’s desire to celebrate special events is a keen marketing strategy. They examined the successes of their customer’s 2017 Valentine’s Day promotions to gauge the impact of timing and messaging on email open rates and engagement. Just like love, they found that it’s all a matter of timing.

Fishbowl, Inc. Proves That Timing Is Everything For Effective Email Campaigns
Eric Douglass

“Across the board, all retailers and restaurant businesses can benefit from a strategy that leverages timely, relevant events for their audiences. While traditional thinking is that the December holiday season and Mother’s Day are key drivers of restaurant traffic the fact is, any one-day occasion if properly conceived and promoted, can be a big win… for all dining categories,” said Eric Douglass, Senior Vice President of Customer Success.

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The Fishbowl analysis found the following results.

  1. Timing is everything – Open rates for emails sent 1-2 weeks in advance of Valentine’s Day were 39% higher than those sent the week of the holiday.
  2. While personalization typically drives responses, use of the first name in the subject line was not a strong driver in the holiday lead-up.
  3. Emails using Valentine’s Day message in the subject line outperformed those that did not use it.
    • Words that performed highest included Sweetie, Sweetheart, and other variations on “sweet,” as well as Love, Lovers, and Amore.
    • Valentine’s Day symbols and emoji also performed well when placed in subject lines.

“What this proves is that using appropriate messaging and tactics leading up to a holiday can drive engagement,” Douglass explained, “This creates a great deal of opportunity for restaurants that can tailor their offerings to capture the already-motivated consumer.”

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Fishbowl’s analysis also confirms what has been a growing trend in the industry – the shift away from fine dining being the exclusive category for “occasion-based” dining. As more and more brands in the quick-service, fast casual, and casual dining sectors expand their focus, the need for strategically crafted email content is amplified, and so are the rewards.

One of Fishbowl’s clients, The Krystal Company, serves as a perfect example. The large quick-service burger brand had already developed a limited time offer (LTO) menu with a slant toward Valentine’s Day – a cola slushie featuring Red Hots candy flavor. For Valentine’s Day specifically, the burger company developed specific marketing messages such as “Krystal Spices Up Valentine’s Day” and a “Two Can Dine for $6.99” offer. Designed to run from the beginning of February, the event-oriented approach is expected to boost sales during a period previously thought out of reach for quick-service restaurant (QSR) brands.

“In our segment, value is critical, but it can’t be your sole message. We’re a brand that is all about celebration, so combining a flavor-filled offer at a great price during a holiday period with which folks don’t naturally associate us, is compelling. No one else can offer a ‘2 can dine for $6.99’ deal – ours features six Krystals, two fries and 2 Red Hot Slushies – and letting our guests know about it ahead of the holiday drives traffic and incidence by hitting on the three key motivators of ‘value,’ ‘fun’ and ‘unexpected’,” said Alice Crowder, Vice President of Marketing for The Krystal Company.

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For the holiday of love in 2017, Fishbowl client Bojangles’ developed a marketing campaign to encourage guests to #BreakUpWithBland – a perfect fit for the regional chain of quick-service restaurants specializing in one-of-a-kind southern flavors like fresh, never frozen, Cajun-inspired bone-in chicken and made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits. The star of Bojangles’ campaign was the use of the hashtag, which gave guests the opportunity to share the Valentine’s Day LTO with their friends and family through social media platforms, and takes email marketing to the next level.

“Our 2017 Valentine’s Day campaign encouraged guests to bring flavor to their life with our Heart-Shaped Bo-Berry Biscuits. Getting ahead of the holiday was the key factor to success, and with the incorporation of the hashtag, #BreakUpWithBland, the more time guests had to share the tag, the more people knew about our LTO. We created the email marketing campaign to inform guests about the limited time offer as well as our sweepstakes for the chance to win a hotel stay, personal biscuit-making lesson and a romantic Bojangles’ dinner,” said Brian Little, Senior Marketing Communications Director for Bojangles’.

Fishbowl’s data reveals that whether it be Valentine’s Day, graduation day or the Fourth of July, the theme of a single day truly can make a difference when applied correctly.

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