What would you do?

I want to work on aggressively building my e-mail database. From what I can tell, with paying only $249/month with Repeat Returns, if I can build up my database significantly, I can market to thousands of people on a weekly basis, for pennies per person per week.

So my thought was to go to the businesses in the area, and explain to them that we are doing a special promotion and would like to offer every member of their staff (and this is where I’m split) either a FREE Pizza or a $3 Large Pizza.

So I am stuck between the two options, and here’s my thoughts on each.

Free Pizza - This would be a free small (10") pizza with one topping. On the coupon it would state that they can upgrade to a Large for $5. The obvious selling point here is that it is an absolutely free pizza, which means a larger percentage of people would be willing to fill in their e-mail address to receive it (because everyone likes free). Another plus is that since it is a free items, the employers are more likely to include it with their payroll to all the employees. In addition, it is possible that the person trying it may also get an additional item or pizza for a family, etc. But this is the case with any free offer and is subject to complete randomness. The downside is obviously that it costs $1 per person (not that this is expensive, considering we are getting an e-mail address and product in a potential future customers mouth) but it is more cost than my other option.

$3 Large Pizza - This obviously is a very discounted product with one topping, just slightly above cost or at cost depending on the topping. The disadvantage here is that people may be less likely to fill in their e-mail address to redeem it because it isn’t a free item which would lead to less redemption. Also employers may be hesitant to give this to their employees because it’s not 100% a reward as much as it is just a special offer. I also worry as to whether or not this will “undervalue” my product as we are discounting it and not just offering something for free. The advantage of course is that I am virtually paying nothing for the e-mail list I am generating, (minus my operating costs which would be there anyways).

So I am looking to you fellow TTers to see which offer you think would work the best. In the end I know the decision will be split but at least it will give me some insights and perhaps other pros and cons that I may not be thinking about (perhaps maybe even someone may have tried this and it went bust or didn’t work near as well as planned).

All thoughts and opinions are appreciated!

Added note: Also, depending on the success of this I may advertise special days on Facebook and Twitter where I randomly post “Stop in today to redeem a coupon for a (insert option here)”, just to encourage people to also engage in the social media aspect.

A couple of thoughts:

  1. My retail business utilizes Campaigner for sending email newsletters to our customer database of 29K people. At about $150 per month, no advertising I’ve found is cheaper or more effective. It’s important to tell a good story and give the customer something interesting to read. Each newsletter features three products they can click on in several places which takes them to the shopping cart for a quick sale. I send about 2 newsletters per week. You can use a database generator by have a “sign up for our newsletter section” on your website.

  2. I am personally against “giving” away main dishes at discount prices. It cheapens your brand and customers will start waiting for the next give-away. It seems to be the last gasp for many businesses. If I were to run a promotion, I’d lean toward a free desert or appetizer but not one of my large pizzas. I would consider my 18" pizzas to be the best that could be purchased anywhere and they’d never go on sale. However, while I have considerable retail business experience, I don’t have a restaurant yet, so take this advice with some salt.

You may be able to build a large list of folks by “coercing” them into giving up their email address, however, most will tune out very quickly and/or mark your address as “spam”…Also, if you are just adding collected emails to your list, they will not have “double opted in” which is a requirement these days…So before you do any marketing to the list, you will have to send an email asking them to confirm they want to receive your emails…

The best way to build an email list is slowly…Lots of good links on list building if you google it…

When I first started gathering e-mail addresses in 2007 I basically did what you’re referring too… grabbed as many as I could without a care about who they were.

Five years later, that list was 7,000 people strong and mostly garbage. There’s a big difference between a “mailing list” and a “database”. Having a massive list of e-mail addresses just leads to batch ‘n’ blast e-mails, and I ended up marketing to the lowest common denominator to get the results I wanted (conversions.)

I have used Repeat Returns to correct this problem. The power of the loyalty program is being able to gather customer data and track their purchasing habits. The point of giving away points for me is it’s a reason to get the customer’s phone number on every order so we can gather even more data about them.

I use RR to gather data, and I still do my own e-mails using Constant Contact (RR still handles the birthday club and rewards e-mails obviously._ I can now segment e-mails based on household size, ZIP code, purchasing preferences, coupon preferences, presence of children… the options are almost unlimited. I have an e-mail address tied to a customer’s record now.

I guess what I’m saying is, I think you’ll be disappointed with the results of this campaign. Give away the pizza, let them taste it and decide they love you… and THEN get them on the rewards program.