Personalise or Perish

In more than a decade of developing database marketing software, I’ve never been so excited. Gone are the days of capturing customer data via the fishbowl at the end of the bar or guests signing up to membership programs with pen and paper – a slow and steady approach that would often generate an illegible list of email addresses and little else.

Technology has become more agile and responsive in recent years. It has become far easier for hospitality businesses to capture more data – not only in vast volumes but also rich, actionable insights.

Visit frequencies, transactional data, products purchased and much more now sit behind a customer’s email address, but this increase in available data is accompanied by stronger legislative measures designed to protect consumers.

In a post-GDPR world, it’s no longer a valid (or sensible) strategy to send an email campaign to your list and expect results. There are increasing numbers of businesses vying for your customers’ attention in their inbox and the number of company lists they subscribe to has diminished. On top of that global email opening rates are falling, with the foodservice sector seeing average open rates of only 15.48%. The problem has become one of more data, less engagement.

So do you throw the baby out with the bathwater and focus your marketing efforts elsewhere? No. The simple answer – and the reason I’m so excited – is to do email marketing better. More customer data and stricter measures on what you can do with it should be seen as an opportunity to take the next step. Put simply, you must personalize or perish. This is the challenge, and slick operators are starting to think more seriously about their database marketing and what’s possible in terms of driving customer loyalty.

It all starts with collaboration. For years operators have had systems such as guest Wi-Fi, booking platforms and loyalty programs in their business that capture customer data in isolation. The challenge has been to bring it all together, to make sense of it, and use it to ultimately grow the business, something that’s difficult and expensive. However, it doesn’t need to be and neither should it. I always say to customers it’s not the task of operators to design data flows and integrations – that job is down to suppliers.

Luckily there are many software providers in the hospitality sector who are only too keen to work collaboratively. It makes sense for all involved, especially when a partnership creates a system where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Once you’ve got your systems playing nicely and all your data is being piped through to your CRM, it’s time to start personalizing your campaigns and here’s why it’s so important – it’s actually more economical to send one-to-one messages than one to all.

Surely it’s more expensive and time-consuming to set up hyper-personalized, one-to-one messages rather than sending a campaign to 5,000 contacts in one go? Yes, you need systems to manage these campaigns with the required integrations and they have a cost, but what we should be focusing on is the end goal, which is to generate another visit or stretch the customer’s spend during their visit.

These are the goalposts so which campaign is going to score more easily – a one-to-one message that resonates with the customer and puts them at the centre of your business or a one-to-all message with the same generic content as the other ten emails they might receive from your competitors?

When working back from the results, personalization is actually far more cost-effective. For one multi-site pub group we work with these campaigns have driven impressive rates of return footfall and resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds of additional spend while more than doubling the number of downloads of its branded app, which allows the business to capture even more data.

Personalisation is about creating a one-to-one experience. There’s nothing greater than that warm feeling of being recognised as a loyal customer. Amazon, along with Netflix and Spotify, is a brilliant example of how to do it right on a huge corporate scale – recommendations rain down depending on your on-site activities. This can offer you a huge competitive advantage in an increasingly challenging market place – so what are you waiting for?

Words By David BirdImpact Data UK Managing director

Make the most of the festive season.

Party on with Impact Data.

The festive season is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times within the hospitality industry. Venues are full, booking lists are long, spirits are high and, so is revenue. Then, come January it all… slows … down…It doesn’t have to! Read our top tips on how to make the festive season last the whole year.

  1. Capture your guest’s data. 

Have you integrated your booking data with TalkBox? We now have integration with most major booking systems such as Quandoo, The Fork and Now Book it! One of the easiest ways to keep your revenue flowing is by growing your contact list and inevitably growing the number of people you can communicate to. You can build your contact list during this busy time, with booking data and / or guest WiFi

2. Make the most of group bookings.

Did you know you can tag and segment those customers who may have made group bookings in the past? By using a filter to segment those who have made a group booking eg. for 10 or more guests, you now have an audience to sell your group booking packages to next year.

3. Ask them to come back.

Over 50% of guests never return for a second visit, most of the time they are never even asked. You can automate communications to send to your guests at set times after their first visit to invite them back. You can also include a voucher or promotion to entice them further.

4. Get personal.

Inboxes are full of batch and blast messages, you can cut through the noise with considered, clever communications. By personalising your communications with merge fields customers are 50% more likely to open your message. 

Does this all sound great, but don’t have the time? Our clever marketing application TalkBox can automate communications to get your customers coming back. We do all the hard work for you, so you can get on with running your venue. 

Contact us to keep the party going all year long.

Hello@impactdata.com.au

Improving Email Engagement

Do you struggle to keep up with all the emails and messages you receive? So do your customers.

Email open rates have started to decline industry-wide. If customers stop engaging with your emails, their email clients could make your communications a lower priority — Gmail might move them to the ‘Updates’ tab, for example — reducing the chances that your customers will see them in their inbox.

It’s more important than ever to stand out from the communications crowd and show that your emails are worth reading.

The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to improve email engagement. We’ve put together some tips to help your emails get opened, not deleted.

1. Spend more time on your subject line
An enticing subject line can be the key to a great open rate, and it’s worth crafting carefully. Use natural language and avoid unnecessary punctuation, particularly exclamation points (!), pipes (|) and combinations (?!). Subject lines that read like proper sentences are less likely to trigger spam filters, too. Learn more subject-line tips and tricks here.

2. Take advantage of preheader text
Preheader text appears directly after the subject line in most email browsers. Although not necessary, it’s an additional opportunity to attract customers’ attention and highlight what’s in your email, which could mean the difference between someone deciding to read it or delete/archive it. Learn more about preheader text here.

3. Get personal
Adding a personal touch improves deliverability and engagement, whether it’s including the customer’s name in the subject line or incorporating customer information in the body of the email.

4. Send targeted emails
Customers respond better to communications that are relevant to them. The data you collect from your customers could be used to create more targeted communications — for example, someone who has just signed up to your database or loyalty program could receive a series of welcome communications. Or a new purchase could trigger a follow-up email about similar items available for purchase

5. Avoid image-only emails
Emails consisting entirely of images can increase load time for customers and trigger spam filters. Aim for a balance of text and images instead.

6. Add alt text to your images
Alt text (alternative text) describes an image to readers who are unable to see it, because the image has failed to load  — some email clients don’t display images automatically — or the reader is visually impaired and uses a screen reader or text-to-speech technology. Use alt text to let readers know what information they’re missing, which can improve engagement and accessibility.

7. Use a reputable email service provider
You might be tempted to communicate with customers via Outlook or a WordPress email client, but these tools are not built to handle large-scale ongoing campaigns. Look for a reliable email service provider focused on helping you improve deliverability, that has high integrity with service providers like Google and Bigpond.

8. Keep your data fresh
Make sure your email service provider is managing your undeliverable, unsubscribed and bounced email addresses properly so they don’t negatively affect your email deliverability

For more information on how you can create a greater level of engagement with your customers and members, contact us at hello@impactdata.com.au

TalkBox has a new design!

TalkBox has had a refresh, focusing on a clean and modern look. It’s designed to be easier to navigate, as well as utilise the whole screen.

To use the new look app, click on the ‘Switch to new design’ link at the top of the screen. 

The old design will eventually be phased out but for the time being, you can switch back and forth between the old and new designs. 

We’ve also relocated a few features and simplified others to make it easier for you to send great communications.

Some of the more obvious changes include:

  • The main navigation is on the left-hand side, rather than at the top
  • Your account settings are now located under Settings in the top right 
  • Automated communications now have their own section called Automated in the left-hand navigation (previously located under Communicate).
  • The calendar is now located under Tools (previously located in the main navigation)
  • There is now a Reports navigation button, replacing the old Sent communications

Less obvious changes include:

  • Segments are now called Filters. You can still find them under Contacts.
  • Flyers are now called Promotions. If you send an SMS communication that links to a voucher and/or other new content, that content is known as a promotion.

We are continuing to improve TalkBox, so keep a look out for further updates. If you have any feedback regarding the new design or run into any problems, please let us know by emailing support@impactdata.com.au.

Top 5 tips to get the most out of your TalkBox account

Are you using TalkBox to its full potential? Although TalkBox is pretty simple to use, it comes with a lot of bells and whistles that you might not know about. Here are five ways to help increase your chances of success.

  1. Grow your database.
    Create a signup form (from the ‘Tools’ menu) to automatically grow your database, letting customers subscribe from your website and/or social media pages. For more rapid database growth, our data-integrated packages tap into the power of your guest WiFi (Fydelia) and bookings system (Collins)
  2. Increase your email open rates.
    There are many reasons why emails might end up in contacts’ spam folders; if you don’t have a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record set up for your domain, it’s probably a contributing factor. Click here for more information on SPF records, including how to set up one.
  3. Boost your functions bookings with automated communications.
    TalkBox allows you to send automated communications to contacts on or around their birthdays or anniversaries, and you can include special-offer vouchers (find them in the ‘Tools’ menu) in those communications. Milestone-birthday communications, sent several weeks or months before the big day, are a great way to drive functions business and advertise your venue-hire services without lifting a finger.
  4. Get more rave reviews (and prevent negative comments from ending up on TripAdvisor).
    Find out what your customers think of you with TalkBox’s feedback-survey tool, and automatically send different follow-up messages based on their responses. You can invite positive reviewers to post a review on TripAdvisor, Facebook or Google, and thank negative reviewers for their feedback, giving them a way to share their experience without posting it online. Dalziel Park Hotel in Lancashire has jumped from third to first place on TripAdvisor for hotels in its region since it started sending automatic feedback surveys. Learn more about feedback surveys here and here, and how to set up automatic communications in this article.
  5. Create a marketing plan
    If you’re not getting great results from your marketing efforts, implement a marketing plan. And don’t be afraid to ask for help — the Impact Data support team is here to help you get the most out of TalkBox.

Impact Data holiday hours

We hope that you have a happy holiday season! Please note the 2018-2019 holiday trading dates for our support and technical times:

25-26 December – closed*
27-31 December – normal support hours
1 January – closed*
2 January – normal support hours resume

* We will still keep a close eye on things and any urgent technical matters will be responded to as a priority. All other requests will be handled promptly when we reopen.

Dalziel Park and Impact Data WiFi Package

Getting to #1

Mark Tunstall from Impact Data recently asked Cameron King from the Lisini Pub Company Ltd for some feedback on using the Impact Data WiFi Package at Dalziel Park

Here’s what Cameron had to say: “Impact Data’s WiFi Package has been a fantastic tool for our business, helping us grow our database and increase our event bookings.

In the four months since signing up for WiFi Package — combining Fydelia with TalkBox — we have added 4,260 subscribers to our database.

The support team helped us set up an automated email for new subscribers, asking for feedback after their visit.

Customers who rate us highly receive a follow-up email inviting them to review us on TripAdvisor or Facebook, which has seen us rise from third to first place on TripAdvisor for hotels in our area. This has been a goal of ours for some time and we couldn’t be more delighted.

We’ve also been using TalkBox to promote our tribute nights and party nights, which has increased our event bookings by 20-30%.”

If you would like to learn how an Impact Data WiFi Package could deliver for your venue click here.

 

Our support just got better

We now have one support email address for all of our clients worldwide. Please send all support queries to support@impactdata.com.au and they’ll be handled speedily by our support staff — and we’ll be able to track their resolution through our ticketing system. This is important, as reviewing these tickets gives us insights into opportunities to make TalkBox and SmartShift even better.

Also, we know many of our clients use TalkBox at night, so we’ve linked our support teams in Melbourne and Manchester for extended service. Australian clients now have access to support until 2am from our UK support team, and access to our Australian support team during business hours (AEST).

Simply email support@impactdata.com.au or phone 1300 885 447 in Australia or +44 0 161 618 1092 in the UK with your query.

Your TalkBox account is GDPR compliant

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) represents significant EU data privacy law reform, and came into effect on 25 May 2018. Great news, having a TalkBox account with Impact Data means that you are compliant.

Like you, we take your customer’s data and privacy seriously, and in fact are important foundations to the products and services we offer. We view these rights as core to the relationships and trust you have with your contacts, which we help you develop.

We have updated our privacy policy and our terms of use. We’ve also made changes to the Privacy Collection Statements which are accessible by the end contact from each email and SMS message send from TalkBox. This means notice supporting your GDPR compliance will be attached to each message you send.

Impact Data continuously invests in improvements to our products. Our hosting arrangements are GDPR compliant. The TalkBox platform itself has been designed to ensure default use results in best practice with respect to legislation worldwide.

It is important that users of TalkBox consider how contact data was obtained and if appropriate consent to receive marketing material was provided by the individual at the time the data was provided. Note that under the GDPR requirements anyone under the age of 16 must have their parental guardian provide consent to receive your messages.

For all new contacts created in TalkBox, we have added a default feature to give all TalkBox account holders certainty that all contact data collected via TalkBox forms is done so with consent from the contact to receive your messages. TalkBox forms now have a checkbox requiring the contact signing up to confirm consent to receive marketing messages. For users in UK and European regions the default text considers the GDPR requirement to parental guardian consent to be provided if they are under the age of 16. When added this checkbox must be ticked for the form to be submitted and for the data to flow to your TalkBox account for potential communication receipt. Impact Data recommend this option is used on TalkBox forms and a similar process to obtain positively identifiable consent is used anywhere data is gathered for use in TalkBox or for any other marketing communications purpose.

You will need to satisfy yourself that data obtained outside TalkBox forms, such as with data integrations or uploads, has been appropriately obtained.

If you need assistance in creating these forms for your TalkBox account or would like to talk to our Support Team about getting the most out of TalkBox please contact support@impactdata.com.au

Holiday Update from Impact Data

We’ve moved

Impact Data has a new Melbourne office:
Level 1, 428 Lt Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000

Holiday hours

We hope you have a happy holiday season! Please note the 2017–18 holiday trading dates for our support and technical teams:

15 December Closed from 2pm AEDST for our company Christmas party*
16–24 December open
25–26 December closed*
27–31 December open
1 January closed*
2 January Office reopens; normal trading hours resume

* We will still keep a close eye on things and any urgent technical matters will be responded to as a priority. All other requests will be handled promptly when we reopen.

If you’re a TalkBox user and you don’t receive Make an Impact, our TalkBox newsletter, let us know: support@impactdata.com.au