Master CRM & SMS: own-channel essentials for food business success

Using and growing CRM and SMS enables you to talk directly with your customers, and not rely on other 3rd party platforms. It's all about boosting your customer relationship marketing to deliver on your goals. Build your own list of customers who love hearing from you, and you've got a direct line to gain their loyalty and repeat visits. Plus, you're not at the mercy of other platforms' changes or fees. CRM stands for customer relationship management and covers the opportunities you have to reach people through emails (newsletters) that you can regularly send out. SMS stands for Short Message Service and is simply a text message to phones.

1. CRM and SMS: great things come in regular small packages

CRM and SMS marketing come a good third place in terms of marketing your business (first and second are website and social media). The game plan? Send out bite-sized updates, like monthly or bi-monthly newsletters. And SMS? Perfect for shouting out about special offers. Just remember, it's all about balance. Keep in touch enough to stay on the radar, but don't bombard customers—you really don't want them hitting that unsubscribe button.

i) CRM = Smarter email marketing 101
CRM gives you more room to chat about what you're cooking up compared to a quick SMS. Pro tip: sync your email newsletters with what's happening on your socials and website. It's like hitting multiple birds with one stone—easier content creation and a consistent message across the board. Got a monthly special on your website? Spread the word on your socials, in your CRM newsletters, and through SMS (for those who've opted in). It's all about keeping your food story the same everywhere.

  • You should build your newsletter in a similar way to how you build a website—design should match your other channels and there should be clear sections.
  • Make sure all links are set up properly and do drive to the right place. Most tools give you a way to test-drive links before sending out emails for real. Also drive to your most engaging content to keep customers interested.
  • Like a chef works to plan their menu, you should work with a marketing calendar. Got weekly specials or some juicy behind-the-scenes stories? Share them! And remember those big days – Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's, or hey, the FIFA World Cup (hello, fry frenzy!).
  • Soon you'll have a growing list of engaged customers. In the next step you'll be slicing and dicing that list into different customer interests. It's all about serving up what people crave.

    ii) SMS - Short Message Service Marketing 101
  • The good news for SMS marketing is that most people have their phones with them at all times. The open rate on SMS is approx. 98% which is way higher than the approx. 33% of CRM/email marketing. This makes SMS marketing really cost effective compared to other forms of digital marketing.
  • Some CRM systems have an option of also sending SMS messages. Making it easy to do both within one tool.
  • For SMS marketing, you will need to find some software that can help you send out multiple messages at once. You won’t have to design SMS marketing since it’s only text in a message but do think about the offer and that it’s clear how people can get access to it. For example, a specific word when ordering, or a code at checkout.
  • SMS marketing as a good addition to all your other channels.
  • Wanting folks to opt-in? Dangle a carrot—like a rewards scheme with exclusive deals for your regulars.
  • Setting up opt-ins is key. You can up those numbers through partner apps or your website during orders. And remember, it's cool to let people opt-out. Not everyone's into SMS alerts, and that's okay. You've got many other ways to stay in touch.

2. Think of CRM and SMS marketing tools as your sous-chef


Like with all things digital, there are many tools that you can use to get sign-ups, plan, automate, send out, and track your CRM or SMS marketing. You can also make use of them for plug-ins that work on your website. Feel like a pro? Do this yourself. Need help? Then use an expert to show you the ropes.

  • It’s the age of digital design and there are loads of templates and tools out there to help whip up simple newsletters to grow your email list. They’re like a sous-chef for digital marketing.
  • These tools aren't just about crafting newsletters; they're also handy for setting up sign-up moments, like on your website via plug-ins.
  • And the best part? They will dish out juicy stats – like your open-rate, which bits people loved, and which CTAs they clicked on. It's like a sneak peek into your customers' minds.
  • With these insights, you can fine-tune your content and offers to really hit the spot with your audience.

3. Use the 80/20% rule when marketing to people


Don’t try to sell to people all the time, this quickly feels like too much and turns people off leading to unsubscribes. Content is still king here, so it should be interesting and informative 80% of the time. The other 20%? That's your chance to serve up a sales pitch (like a chef's special) and see how it's received. Of course, if your customers have signed up for an offers-only stream, then they're all in for those deals and you can keep sending them.

4.  Ideas to gain sign-ups and keep people engaged


Like elsewhere in your marketing, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place and find ways to create engaging content. We recommend you start with the following to create content around:

  • Birthday wishes
  • Discounts
  • New menu/specials/seasonal menu changes
  • Events at your restaurant
  • Retail events like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s/Father’s Day

Download our handy CRM/email and SMS checklist.