Here is a very common scenario: A customer walks in to your restaurant, eats, enjoys their meal, leaves a good tip, and then leaves. What is wrong with this picture? The missing link of course is that in most cases the restaurant has no method in place to capture the customer’s information such as name, phone, and email.
This is such a common practice that it leads one to believe that most people do not understand the value of such information and if they do, they don’t know how to gather it. Let’s tackle each of those issues one at a time.
Most of the research, and most of the business experience tells us that repeat customers are the most valuable customers. One of the reasons for that is that the initial customer acquisition cost is much higher than bringing them back in, assuming of course that there is a system in place to proactively bring them back, which leads us to the importance of a customer database.
For those non-techies among us, a database is simply a collection of information, which in this case is Customer Name, Phone Number, and Email Address. In general this collection of information could be on a napkin, on a legal pad, or in some type of computer program. Of course the information is much more useful in a computer because it can be much more easily accessed and used so when we talk about a database it will be in the context of a computer.
As mentioned above a database consisting of customer information can be used for many types of marketing including email blasts and texting. The beauty of having such information and of being able to do digital marketing is that now you can proactively reach out to customers to drive business rather than hoping that they randomly come back in. Not to mention the fact that personalized, one-to-one digital marketing is much cheaper and much more effective than typical mass media. Last but not least, it can be done at any time, without any of the typical delays associated with old-school marketing. What this means in the end is that customer information is very, very valuable and not gathering it is an expensive mistake.
The next issue to discuss then is how customer information can be gathered. In the good old days this was done with a fishbowl sitting on the counter that people dropped business cards in. This was fairly effective, especially if there was an accompanying offer to get a free lunch from the weekly drawing. It is not clear what the businesses did with all of those cards, or why it was worth a free lunch, but nonetheless they at least got the names.
Fast forward to the 21st century and not only do we have many methods to gather names but we also have lots of ways to use the data. One of the easiest ways to get customers to give you their contact information is to have your own mobile app. The reason for this is that you can proactively motivate your customers to download the app with an offer for a free or discounted menu item, just like the good old fishbowl days. They are happy to provide the information to you for something free. And since the data is collected electronically, and stored in a database, a whole new world of digital marketing will open up to you.