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3 Keys to Optimizing Your Email Database

Email database
Photo credit: Song_about_summer - stock.adobe.com

While text and social media are increasingly central to digital marketing, email marketing should still play a key role in small businesses’ efforts. After all, 55% of consumers say if they want to stay up-to-date with the businesses they support, email is their most preferred means of communication, according to Constant Contact research.

But email doesn’t just support brand awareness and education; it also can drive store visits and business results. Despite the growing number of channels at their fingertips, Statista found that email is still the leading way consumers discover coupons. 

“Email marketing is one of the best channels to leverage to foster repeat business and is considerably less costly than mailed coupons or no promotions at all,” said Matt Zibell, VP of Product for POS company TouchBistro.  

Email marketing allows small businesses to engage with their customers on a personal level and in a branded environment. While platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok may suddenly change algorithms and negatively impact your reach, you can control when and how messaging gets to your audience via email.  

The most successful email campaigns offer attractive, intriguing and engaging messages. In a HubSpot survey, about one-third (31%) of marketers said new product or feature announcements had the highest click-through rates, while the same amount (31%) said special offers or promotions work best. By accessing campaign results and other back-end performance data, you can determine which messages and offers resonate best with your audience.

Businesses can also capitalize on the data linked to each subscriber. Your database can retain records ranging from subscribers’ ZIP codes and birthdays to information about the last time they opened one of your emails or made a purchase, including what they ordered, how they ordered it, and how much they spent.

Combined, these benefits pack a powerful punch for businesses that need to develop scalable strategies that drive audience engagement, sales results and return on investment (ROI). Email delivers just that: each dollar spent on email marketing nets a return of $36, according to Constant Contact. 

Email Marketing Glossary

What is the goal of sending an email? Engagement, which is demonstrated by open rates, click-throughs (when a reader clicks on a link to your site) and actions, such as making a reservation, setting an appointment, using a coupon code or purchasing a product/service. 

Here are a few critical terms to understand as you optimize your email database: 

  • List Segmentation: This is when you subdivide your subscriber list into smaller, targeted groups based on specific criteria such as location, buying habits and type of customer. 
  • CTA (Call to Action): This is the action you want readers to take, such as clicking on a link in your email to place an order. 
  • Metrics: These are the numbers that measure the success of your email campaigns, such as how many recipients open an email, how many click on your CTA, and how many convert (purchase). 
  • Open Rate: This is the percentage of recipients who open your email. 
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): This is the metric that measures how many readers clicked on a CTA or other link in your email message. 
  • Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of email recipients who take a desired action, such as clicking on a link, making a purchase, setting an appointment or signing up for a free trial. 
  • A/B Testing: This is when you send two separate offers and compare their performance via metrics. “For example, restaurant owners and operators can test if a ‘half-off on a large pizza’ promotion generates as many sales as a ‘buy one medium pizza, get one free’ deal,” said Teddy Tsang, VP of Product Marketing at Toast, another POS provider. This enables operators to “refine campaigns and send the most effective message.” 

Email Database Management Tips

These best-practice tips apply whether you are managing your list in-house or outsourcing to a vendor. If you’re managing it in-house, you are best served by using email marketing software such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot or one of their many competitors. These tools provide critical automation features as well as useful metrics. 

Outsourcing your email marketing? That might mean simply paying someone else to manage your email marketing with one of the tools just mentioned, paying an expert to use a more sophisticated and robust email marketing tool or utilizing an integrated solution such as a POS system that includes email marketing as part of the package. 

In any case, here are some major factors to consider to get the most out of your email database. 

Quality Email Addresses

A high-quality list is built, not bought. 

“The first step to good email database management is to ensure that you’re collecting as many compliant and high-quality email addresses as possible,” advised Tsang. In this context, “high quality” refers to customers or potential customers who have voluntarily provided their email addresses. Give your customers a reason to opt in by promising benefits such as a loyalty program, discounts and coupons and deliver those benefits to maintain customer trust. 

Some platforms include embedded tools to collect addresses. “When the email database management tool is part of the same platform as other key products, [you’ll] never miss an opportunity to collect the contact information of [your] guests, with their permission,” said Tsang.  

Toast, for example, offers restaurant owners multiple touch points to collect a customer’s email address, including during an online order journey, when paying via mobile phone or gift card, or when joining a loyalty program. Stripe and Square are similar POS systems that enable email collection and loyalty programs, while companies like Shopify and PayPal can do the same for ecommerce transactions.  

E-mail List Segmentation

By segmenting your email list, you can target messages to specific groups, which will translate to more personalized and successful email campaigns. Depending on how sophisticated your tools and database are, your segments can be based on geographic area such as ZIP code; demographics such as age; signup channel (in person, online, by text or via loyalty program); buying habits; buying frequency; and more. You can even craft a survey or quiz that will glean data on customer preferences that you can link with their email addresses. 

Zibell of TouchBistro urges operators to “know your audience – look at their ordering history to determine what offers will resonate best with them.” You can also personalize promotions with birthday discounts, sign-up anniversaries, or discounts on specific items or services customers generally purchase. It’s also important to track unsubscribes and other responses to determine the communication frequency best tolerated by your customers. 

Integration with POS

Integrating your email marketing database with your POS has obvious advantages. The most effective and trackable email campaigns “use technology that integrates your customer database with your POS, loyalty program and online ordering,” said Zibell. “That will make it fast and simple for your customers to order what they love the most using their loyalty awards and it will streamline operations, which reduces staffing time. You’ll also be able to track what has resulted in the most sales, the best times to send promotions, and which customers you should target.” 

Likewise, Tsang said that instead of managing multiple vendors, “you want a tool that lets you run your email marketing activities on the same platform you already use to run your business.” He added that managing your email database with a third-party application “will require additional importing and exporting and could limit the type of data you can pull into segment groups of guests. Skip the export: it should have all the guest information in one place, so you never have to export or import emails from a third-party tool.” 

These vendors, along with your actual email publishing system, will also have features in place to help you comply with laws around database privacy and spam prevention. 

Email: Here to Stay

E-mail marketing has withstood two decades of challenges and is still going strong. Thanks to the ease and sophistication of current database technology, you can harness your email database and the wisdom it contains to target your digital communications for optimal sales and success. 

This article is adapted from a piece initially published on Pizza Today by Annelise Kelly, who is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer.

3 Keys to Optimizing Your Email Database

by | Sep 15, 2023

Email database

While text and social media are increasingly central to digital marketing, email marketing should still play a key role in small businesses’ efforts. After all, 55% of consumers say if they want to stay up-to-date with the businesses they support, email is their most preferred means of communication, according to Constant Contact research.

But email doesn’t just support brand awareness and education; it also can drive store visits and business results. Despite the growing number of channels at their fingertips, Statista found that email is still the leading way consumers discover coupons. 

“Email marketing is one of the best channels to leverage to foster repeat business and is considerably less costly than mailed coupons or no promotions at all,” said Matt Zibell, VP of Product for POS company TouchBistro.  

Email marketing allows small businesses to engage with their customers on a personal level and in a branded environment. While platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok may suddenly change algorithms and negatively impact your reach, you can control when and how messaging gets to your audience via email.  

The most successful email campaigns offer attractive, intriguing and engaging messages. In a HubSpot survey, about one-third (31%) of marketers said new product or feature announcements had the highest click-through rates, while the same amount (31%) said special offers or promotions work best. By accessing campaign results and other back-end performance data, you can determine which messages and offers resonate best with your audience.

Businesses can also capitalize on the data linked to each subscriber. Your database can retain records ranging from subscribers’ ZIP codes and birthdays to information about the last time they opened one of your emails or made a purchase, including what they ordered, how they ordered it, and how much they spent.

Combined, these benefits pack a powerful punch for businesses that need to develop scalable strategies that drive audience engagement, sales results and return on investment (ROI). Email delivers just that: each dollar spent on email marketing nets a return of $36, according to Constant Contact. 

Email Marketing Glossary

What is the goal of sending an email? Engagement, which is demonstrated by open rates, click-throughs (when a reader clicks on a link to your site) and actions, such as making a reservation, setting an appointment, using a coupon code or purchasing a product/service. 

Here are a few critical terms to understand as you optimize your email database: 

  • List Segmentation: This is when you subdivide your subscriber list into smaller, targeted groups based on specific criteria such as location, buying habits and type of customer. 
  • CTA (Call to Action): This is the action you want readers to take, such as clicking on a link in your email to place an order. 
  • Metrics: These are the numbers that measure the success of your email campaigns, such as how many recipients open an email, how many click on your CTA, and how many convert (purchase). 
  • Open Rate: This is the percentage of recipients who open your email. 
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): This is the metric that measures how many readers clicked on a CTA or other link in your email message. 
  • Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of email recipients who take a desired action, such as clicking on a link, making a purchase, setting an appointment or signing up for a free trial. 
  • A/B Testing: This is when you send two separate offers and compare their performance via metrics. “For example, restaurant owners and operators can test if a ‘half-off on a large pizza’ promotion generates as many sales as a ‘buy one medium pizza, get one free’ deal,” said Teddy Tsang, VP of Product Marketing at Toast, another POS provider. This enables operators to “refine campaigns and send the most effective message.” 

Email Database Management Tips

These best-practice tips apply whether you are managing your list in-house or outsourcing to a vendor. If you’re managing it in-house, you are best served by using email marketing software such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, HubSpot or one of their many competitors. These tools provide critical automation features as well as useful metrics. 

Outsourcing your email marketing? That might mean simply paying someone else to manage your email marketing with one of the tools just mentioned, paying an expert to use a more sophisticated and robust email marketing tool or utilizing an integrated solution such as a POS system that includes email marketing as part of the package. 

In any case, here are some major factors to consider to get the most out of your email database. 

Quality Email Addresses

A high-quality list is built, not bought. 

“The first step to good email database management is to ensure that you’re collecting as many compliant and high-quality email addresses as possible,” advised Tsang. In this context, “high quality” refers to customers or potential customers who have voluntarily provided their email addresses. Give your customers a reason to opt in by promising benefits such as a loyalty program, discounts and coupons and deliver those benefits to maintain customer trust. 

Some platforms include embedded tools to collect addresses. “When the email database management tool is part of the same platform as other key products, [you’ll] never miss an opportunity to collect the contact information of [your] guests, with their permission,” said Tsang.  

Toast, for example, offers restaurant owners multiple touch points to collect a customer’s email address, including during an online order journey, when paying via mobile phone or gift card, or when joining a loyalty program. Stripe and Square are similar POS systems that enable email collection and loyalty programs, while companies like Shopify and PayPal can do the same for ecommerce transactions.  

E-mail List Segmentation

By segmenting your email list, you can target messages to specific groups, which will translate to more personalized and successful email campaigns. Depending on how sophisticated your tools and database are, your segments can be based on geographic area such as ZIP code; demographics such as age; signup channel (in person, online, by text or via loyalty program); buying habits; buying frequency; and more. You can even craft a survey or quiz that will glean data on customer preferences that you can link with their email addresses. 

Zibell of TouchBistro urges operators to “know your audience – look at their ordering history to determine what offers will resonate best with them.” You can also personalize promotions with birthday discounts, sign-up anniversaries, or discounts on specific items or services customers generally purchase. It’s also important to track unsubscribes and other responses to determine the communication frequency best tolerated by your customers. 

Integration with POS

Integrating your email marketing database with your POS has obvious advantages. The most effective and trackable email campaigns “use technology that integrates your customer database with your POS, loyalty program and online ordering,” said Zibell. “That will make it fast and simple for your customers to order what they love the most using their loyalty awards and it will streamline operations, which reduces staffing time. You’ll also be able to track what has resulted in the most sales, the best times to send promotions, and which customers you should target.” 

Likewise, Tsang said that instead of managing multiple vendors, “you want a tool that lets you run your email marketing activities on the same platform you already use to run your business.” He added that managing your email database with a third-party application “will require additional importing and exporting and could limit the type of data you can pull into segment groups of guests. Skip the export: it should have all the guest information in one place, so you never have to export or import emails from a third-party tool.” 

These vendors, along with your actual email publishing system, will also have features in place to help you comply with laws around database privacy and spam prevention. 

Email: Here to Stay

E-mail marketing has withstood two decades of challenges and is still going strong. Thanks to the ease and sophistication of current database technology, you can harness your email database and the wisdom it contains to target your digital communications for optimal sales and success. 

This article is adapted from a piece initially published on Pizza Today by Annelise Kelly, who is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer.