This advice is mainly for Takeaways and Restaurants in the UK and is based upon my experience of using systems like these in order to get customers on board. The two systems I’m going to talk about today are Emailing lists, and Chatbots. In short, don’t use them, but if you want to know why, I’m happy to enlighten you as to my experiences.


Emailing Lists – More like E-Failing Lists


So we’ve hit a point in marketing where people generally look at less than 5% of emails, and those that do don’t generally stay long. Marketers have had some success by adding story to emails, however even now, it’s beginning to drop off. All story does is potentially keep a customer reading the email a little longer so they don’t get a bounce in the system.


How often have you signed up for an email newsletter, or subscribed to some kind of update service with emails online? If you have and you read every one, you are in the minority. Most people couldn’t care less about emails, except emails relating to their employment, emails from friends and family and emails from billionaire princes who want to give them millions of pounds. 


Emailing Lists are often looked at as a staple of marketing. A lot of marketers still recommend them, because even though they have a really low hit rate, they can have a small degree of effectiveness… Occasionally. The problem is that if you put out even a spectacular deal through emails, it’s unlikely anyone will come in through them…


My main thoughts about them are pretty simple. Low hit rate, costs, maintenance and time… If someone is running them for you so you don’t have to stress and struggle through Mailchimp, that will also cost money. A lot of marketers are happy to add an emailing campaign to your package for a tasty sounding price. I, as an experienced marketer not out to get your hard earned cash, implore you to spend your money running Facebook ads instead. (Check out my blog post: here, on how to do this effectively!) You will get a much higher return on investment. 


There are additional complications that come with emails marketing. You have to store your emails. If you got them in your email list before GDPR came in, you’ll need to scrap the list. The issue with collecting emails is that they are customer data, meaning they’re a pain in the neck to deal with if you get a data breach. It’s better to keep things as simple as possible and avoid emails, except as a form of people contacting you. Spend the money elsewhere. It’s better value.


Chatbots – A Digital Disaster


In the USA, there exists a Restaurant Marketing Legend. His systems and developments are huge and he makes a fantastic and phenomenal difference wherever he goes with his exceptionally set up system. His name is Matt Plapp, and he is without doubt, a fantastic restaurant marketer.


He developed the ROI Engine, a tool to help digital marketing agencies work with restaurants, and prove, without doubt that they could make a great return on investment. The ROI Engine is one of the smartest programs I’ve ever worked with and there is no doubt in my mind that it does a fantastic job… At least in America.


My experiences with the ROI Engine, working with an exceptional advertising agency here in the UK before I founded Fantasoft, were dismal. Money was going out, and the trickle coming in was not good. We weren’t doing anything wrong, its just the mentality of people in the UK is vastly different from that of the US. People here are very, very hard to sell to. As English people, we are also easily irritated.


The system uses a Chatbot which collects customer data and stores it. (This requires good knowledge of Data Protection!) The customer sees an ad, and clicks a link. The Chatbot messages them. They sometimes respond with text, not knowing to press automated replies, then become upset that they aren’t being responded to. Those that follow the responses and press the ones set up can be enrolled into a loyalty scheme… If they want that.


This creates some really annoying issues with customers, business owners wanting to push things out and quirks in the Chatbot, Zapier, Google Sheets and a lot of other bits and bobs that have to harmonise to make the system work. Overall, the system has not been successful here as far as I know. Chatbots are annoying and inhuman and whilst they sound good, they will alienate people pretty quickly, no matter how well they’re programmed.


Social Media is for people to interact with people. It’s not always an easy thing to respond personally to people, however, its better than automated responses and programmed bots. These will drive customers away over time, and you will regret getting involved with them. Be wary of any marketer who recommends Chatbots. Trust me, I know, I used to recommend them, until I saw the damage they could do. 


The UK is hard on marketing, we can’t just take a system used effectively by another country and employ it effectively. Culturally, we have to work within the boundaries set by the people we live with. People get worn down by attrition here quite quickly. Bombarding people with emails, loyalty scheme offers, and other irritating things is as annoying as going to a site like mine and having to see pop up ads smashed across your screen. That’s why I don’t use them! I value the people who read my content and I hope they benefit from my experience. I hope this has helped!


Oh, and if you were thinking about push notifications… Yeah. Don’t do it. That’s my secret Number 3!