Traditions 118 had a problem that wasn’t linked to the price of lobster or even the ample competition in the eatery market. Put simply, its mailing list was slowly passing its freshness date.
Owner Michael Lubic started the restaurant’s mailing list in 2010—six years after opening the restaurant—because it offered a cost-effective way to communicate news and offers to regular customers. But he never hit upon a consistent method to attract and retain subscribers, so attrition was taking its toll and eroding the size of the list.
Granite Springs, where Traditions 118 is located, is about an hour from New York City. Lubic knew he needed to attract locals typical of the area—family-oriented homeowners with high median incomes and children. Finding a solution that combined the demographics he wanted and the rich delivery options afforded by email, however, was a significant challenge.
Early attempts to go it alone were less than successful. Social network audience targeting seemed overwhelming and delivered indeterminate results; managing his own display advertising account presented more options than Lubic knew what to do with. “Facebook and Google give you a lot of data about views, impressions, and costs. It’s all a little confusing,” he says. “I get it, but I don’t really get it.”
Lubic wanted to be able to measure results in the form of tangible coupon redemptions, not ephemeral impressions, views, and click-throughs. Group discount sites offered the clear-cut metric of the coupon, but the demographics were wrong.
Lubic’s goal was to build a loyal, family oriented clientele for Traditions 118. Group discounts were instead bringing in city-dwellers looking for a bargain night out who were unlikely to ever return. These customers were not converting into email subscribers—a group that historically performed well with repeat visits. “It can be good at times to bring in people who are looking for a deal, but it just wasn’t an authentic fit for us,” Lubic says. “And some of the elite in this area associate a stigma with it; they’re not big fans.”
To find new subscribers, he wanted to reach his target prospects with a call-to-action of joining the mailing list. Lubic decided to skip social outreach and instead pursue presenting a discount incentive for mailing list sign-up online and via mobile apps. But selecting ad networks, optimizing keyword buys, and balancing a display advertising budget isn’t the most comfortable fit for any restaurateur, let alone one who keeps technology at arm’s length.
He found a suitable sous chef in Opt-Intelligence, whose LeadServe solution offers the right blend of automated outreach and demographic targeting on display and mobile ad networks. Traditions 118 ads are carefully geotargeted to appear to users within 15 miles of the restaurant. “People like learning about new, local businesses,” says Craig Anderson, Opt-Intelligence president.
With an appeal that offers the right blend of elegance and vice (a free glass of wine for new sign-ups), Traditions 118 saw results in a hurry. More than one third of recipients opened the welcome email containing the coupon. In total, 18% of all sign-up coupons are redeemed in-restaurant.
Traditions 118 pays Opt-Intelligence only for sign-ups, approximately $1 each, and sets a cap for sign-ups each month to manage the acquisition budget. Newly acquired subscribers are automatically sent to the restaurant’s third-party email service provider for future campaigns.
For Traditions 118, new subscriber numbers are up considerably and the email program is healthy once more. Successful conversions are worth an average of $75 to the restaurant, an appealing return on the cost-per-acquisition. The mailing list audience is twice as large as when the campaign started, with many more in-market prospects still untapped. “In this business, one good table can pay for the entire LeadServe service for the month,” Lubic says. “I could create a coupon that’s borderline ridiculous and still make money.”