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Email Valentines: How Restaurants Snag Couples 02/05/2018

by Ray Schultz , Columnist, Yesterday

Couples like to dine out on Valentine’s Day, and restaurants are gearing up to pull them in. But they should get those email promotions out now: Emails sent a week or two in advance are 39% more effective than those sent Valentine’s Day week, according to a study by Fishbowl, a provider of data and analytics solutions to restaurants.

What else did Fishbowl find in this study of its clients’ 2017 Valentine’s Day emails? For one thing, that you can get a boost by mentioning Valentine’s Day in the subject line. First names don’t work as well. But Valentine's Day symbols and emojis do.

What’s more, the study shows that words like “Sweetie,” “Sweetheart “perform best in subject lines, along with “Love,” “Lovers,” “Amore” and variations on "sweet.”

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Fishbowl also discovered that fine dining isn’t the only category that attracts diners on happy occasions: quick-service restaurants (QSR), fast casual and casual dining can also pull them in with “strategically crafted” email content, the company says.

Case in point: The Krystal Company, a burger chain, believes it can use email to boost sales during a period that used to be seen as out of reach for QSR brands.

Krystal developed a campaign that runs from the beginning of February, featuring subject lines like "Krystal Spices Up Valentine's Day" and a "Two Can Dine for $6.99" offer. It already had a limited-time-offer menu offering a cola slushy featuring Red Hots candy flavor.

"In our segment, value is critical, but it can't be your sole message," states Alice Crowder, vice president of marketing for The Krystal Company. "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.”

Last year, the regional chain created a campaign that encouraged consumers to #BreakUpWithBland. It also invited them to savor the firm’s Heart-Shaped Bo-Berry Biscuits.

"Our 2017 Valentine's Day campaign encouraged guests to bring flavor to their life. 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,” states Brian Little, senior marketing communications director for Bojangles'.

He adds: “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."

All this proves again that “all retailers and restaurant businesses can benefit from a strategy that leverages timely, relevant events for their audiences," states Eric Douglass, senior vice president of customer success.

There’s only one wrinkle this year: Valentine’s Day is on the same day as Ash Wednesday. The Archdiocese of Galveston has urged Catholics to “skip any romantic steak dinners that day,” according to ABC Eyewitness News. hat probably goes for burgers, too.